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Some game age statistics

Posted at 19:35 on February 10th, 2008 | Quote | Edit | Delete
Reborn Gumby
Posts: 8818
The following is basically a rant I've written up about something which pisses me off. Although it goes into that direction, it's not really editorial material, so I'm posting it here. Feel free to read or skip at your discretion.

For whatever reason (I'll get to that at the end of this post), there are urban legends about this site which seem to pop up again and again. One of them is (paraphrased) "the site doesn't really have many old games, but mainly amateur ones which are pretty new".

Here's some statistics about this (mathematically correct, but not taking into account that one game entry - the Barschsoft special - consists of more than one game; that entry is counted as one single game, but that isn't significant statistically); as of today, this is the average and median game age on TGOD (presented in a pseudo-table misusing the code tag; in the hope it'll turn up readable for everyone):

System		Games	Average		Median
Amiga		124	1991.0484	1991
Atari 2600	6	1982.1667	1982.5
Atari ST	10	1988.3000	1989
C64		55	1986.3636	1986
Game Boy	4	1992.2500	1990.5
NES		5	1988.2000	1989
PC		274	1992.3066	1993
Plus/4		6	1986.0000	1986
SNES		24	1993.2917	1993
Vectrex		4	1981.7500	1982
ZX Spectrum	10	1985.0000	1985
All		522	1990.9004	1991

First observation is that average and median year of release are always pretty close to each other, the sole exception being the Game Boy (where the one Game Boy Color game pulls the average up). So, looking at the median alone is sufficient (and more telling anyway).

The median year of release of the games on the site is 1991. That was 17 years ago, probably when most of the visitors were born (pure guesswork - the last poll concerning visitor age dates back to 2001). Looking at the median age of each individual system, I'm actually surprised how well we've nailed the middle of the system's lifespan of them all!

Conclusion: I think the statement about the site not carrying many true oldies can be proven false by simple maths as shown above.

Now for my theory where this originates from. Many visitors are only looking for games with a very specific target group in mind. The site allows for that by giving all those (virtually unlimited) ways to group the games.

A very typical visitor will for example look only for games reviewed for the IBM PC. Suddenly, the observed median age jumps down by two whole years. Then, he might not be interested in text adventures, and this would increase average year of release significantly once more. This isn't the fault of the site, though, but it's purely related to the visitor him- or herself. Quite frankly, everybody looking for IBM games made in the 80s which aren't 'special interest' (like text adventures) is a complete fool anyway. CGA? :puke:

Next, there's this prejudice about 'crappy' amateur games. Early in the history of the site, I decided to put up the games I had programmed myself back in the days. Those are really crappy, granted, but they also never got the treatment of 'real' game entries. Still, I figured it can't hurt. I also like reviewing the odd amateur game made by other people at times, especially since those are often quite interesting and original, but again, that's hardly a significant number. All of them follow a well-known 'classic' gameplay definition by the way. Again, it is a purely subjective and unfounded claim to say the opposite. Combine the above IBM selection with 'Adventure', and you'll get 10% games made by me on the first page (most people tend not to look further). That's not enough statistical material to make such a brush-off claim!

So, second conclusion: You get what you select. If you're looking for real classics, don't select systems or genres which simply weren't all that relevant in the timeframe you're interested in. And if you're not interested in amateur games, simply select 'Commercial' licence.

Next time I read a similar claim (believe me, it has happened more than ten times already), I'll have material (this post) to point to.

[edit: grammar]
Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
Edited by Mr Creosote at 09:23 on February 11th, 2008
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