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cult of the new?

September 26, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

So I got to thinking the other day about the “cult of the new,” and I began to wonder if there was any way to see if there really was an effect along those lines at BGG.

How did I decide to go about it?  Using two sets of numbers:  first, a breakdown of the number of games in the top 250 ranked games by year, and second, a breakdown of the number of games in the top 250 most popular games by year (as measured by the number of players who have ranked the game).

Is this a perfect way to do it?  No, there are obviously any number of factors that would tend to skew the data in one direction or another.  But it isn’t bad, and all I was looking for was a back-of-the-envelope kind of calculation, anyway.

How did I get the data?  With a little URL hacking, that’s how.

For the number of games in the top 250 ranked games that were published in 1995, for example, I entered the following URL:  http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeksearch.php?action=search&advsearch=1&objecttype=boardgame&range[yearpublished][min]=1995&range[yearpublished][max]=1995&range[rank][min]=1&range[rank][max]=250&B1=Submit&sort=rank&sortdir=asc.  If you follow the link, you will see that there were four.

For the number of games in the top 250 most popular games that were published in 1995, on the other hand, I entered:  http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeksearch.php?action=search&advsearch=1&objecttype=boardgame&range[yearpublished][min]=1995&range[yearpublished][max]=1995&range[numvoters][min]=3362&range[numvoters][max]=250000&B1=Submit&sort=numvoters&sortdir=desc.  The number?  Seven.

(How did I come up with 3362 as the minimum number of voters for the 250 most popular games?  Look at all the games in the database, sort by the number of voters, and see how many votes the 250th game received.  Simple.)

On to the visuals.  In the graph below, blue shows the number of games in the top 250 highest ranked games, broken down by year; yellow shows the number of games in the top 250 most popular games, broken down by year.  Red and green show these same numbers while looking at only the top 100 games in their respective categories.

So what, if anything, does this graph tell us?  Both the yellow and green lines (tracking the most popular games, as measured by the number of voters) peak in 2004 and then drop off.  Both the blue and the red lines (tracking the highest ranked games), however, peak in 2009.

While certainly not definitive, this does suggest that (a) games take a while to be widely adopted by the BGG community, and (b) our ratings of these games do tend to fall over time.  We tend to rank games more highly, in other words, when they’re still relatively bright and shiny, and we tend lower our ratings when games begin to show their age.

If I were on Mythbusters, I’d have to conclude that the myth was confirmed.  What do you think?

 

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