While reading a discussion about video games and their ratings on Reddit, an old complaint came up. Since I used to write for IGN.com I've seen this bounced around for several years now. It's this:
Ratings are going up. It's rating inflation. Everything's an 8 or a 9 now. This sucks.
Having been on the inside of the world of reviewing games (spoiler: not recommended) I knew that this was mostly an error in perception. There are plenty of terrible games out there that get low ratings that people don't notice.
What gets attention are the big games. The titles from the major publishers who spend tens of millions on a new game. The odds of these games being good tend to be better than the average game.
I knew that if I tried to make a comment about this no one would care. I'd have to (a) prove that I was a former IGN reviewer and (b) get strangers on the internet to believe me. I didn't want to use my time in that way so I figured that raw data and some charts would be better.
To do this, I scraped all of the game reviews on IGN from their start in 1996 up until November of 2015. I aggregated all of this with some SQL queries and made the results readable with Highcharts.
I posted the link to Reddit in the /r/dataisbeautiful subreddit, but it didn't get much attention.
This was later reposted by someone else to /r/games where it had a net 2,000+ upvotes and 400+ comments.
The reaction was good with many readers seeing that there hasn't been a shift to higher ratings and the conversation was able to quickly move on to a more detailed discussion of the nuances of reviewing games. So overall it was a success and well worth the time to put togther.