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2021.09.03

Rating Art

Rating things is a real art. Specially if we are rating art. Not much thought is put on it; eventually things start to get complicated and ambiguous.

Time

Also cultural references also change. What was good 100 years ago might simply be unacceptable nowadays. There are plenty of movies, sculptures, paintings and songs that portrait racism, misogyny or prejudice that were normal at the time. It’s complicate to reevaluate them using our modern mental framework.

Also, our own taste changing with time. Things that were cool when we were young might embarrassing years later. #cringe

Technology

Some technological improvements make it change our quality perspective. A silent or black-and-white movie, a radio quality song recording, an Atari Pong. But today, it’s hard sell to have such limitation in a modern piece of art.

Sometimes, these technological changes make plainly impossible to appreciate the art later on. For video games it’s particularly affected, since the medium in which it is consumed is part of the experience. Virtual Boy headaches during hours and hours of playtime were part of the nostalgia, but how to compare with a modern XR game if the hardware itself is hard to find and make it work?

Single Fixed Scale

Finally, we have to reduce all the rich details into a numeric scale.

I prefer an infinite positive scale, that always grows with new titles, would be better. So Pong would never be in the same league as a modern AAA 3D adventure story-driven game. But at the same time, one could honestly appreciate an old movie almost the same as flashy new one.

So having a single fixed scale, from 1-5, 0-10, percentage, or even the super weird American F-A concept, is a easier way to deal things. Almost everyone uses this in some shape or form.

My take

There are much to discuss.

At least for now, I’m going to simplify a bit my ratings. I use a 0-10 scale, with .5 decimals. There is no need for these decimal point. An 0-10 scale is enough to separate good from bad. Numerically, 9.4 is better then 9.3. But in practice, it most convey the information that is an amazing game/movie/book, not that one is better then the other. The details I expect to point are a qualitative analysis in each review.

Also, using half-points in practice doubles the range. It’s in fact a 20 point scale. No need for such granularity.

Updating all these past ratings with decimal points, rounding them up or down, depending each case.

One might notice that I’ve never used the 1-3 ratings and barely used bellow 6. It’s not a problem with the scale per se. It’s more about the selection process that occur before consuming a game or movie. I try to focus on award winning, previously mentioned and commented by someone else before. I might eventually rethink this scale to englobe all bellow threshold in a single category and focus on the above threshold scale.

This way I tend to consume only reasonably good products and, therefore, only set reasonably good ratings! Good for me, if you ask.

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