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Making the Vote Count

It seems like every Flash game website has a voting system. But I find interesting that the voting mechanism usually tells you the average vote score BEFORE you vote. So that got me thinking, what if the voting system hides the popular vote before playing and voting? For example, lets say that the vote bar appears after playing the game and asks you to vote. You would not see the votes or reviews of users… just the vote bar. Think of how different it feels voting based on your experiences alone.

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Good. Now take a look at this next scale. This scale reflects a voting system that constantly updates as the votes come in.

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Seems much different now, right? You have the popular vote to take into consideration. I think this has three major effects on your voting habits:

Effect #1) I may now vote based on my expectations of the game.

If you see the current score on the graph, you are going to get an indication of how “good” people think the game is. This is going to set your expectations before you even open the game. After playing the game, your vote may be effected by whether or not your expectations were met.

Effect #2) I may now vote based on the agreement or disagreement of others.

Instead of voting specifically for the value you think it deserves, you may vote in agreement or disagreement with the current popular vote. For example, if you think the game was better than the current popular vote, you will vote higher than the average. If you thought the game was worse, you would vote lower. Instead of voting in line with your own opinions, you’ll be voting in such a way to show your agreement or disagreement with how others voted.

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Effect #3) I may now vote on the extremes so I can sway the vote with the greatest impact possible, in lieu of Effect #2.

More is better right? Since you are voting on a scale, there are extremes to how a user can vote: 0 or 10. An extreme vote is going to change the vote much more than one that hits closer to the popular vote already. Throwing a 0 at an average score of 7.5 is much more powerful on the popular vote than throwing a 7. The image below reflects the voting habits of individuals like this:

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So now that these three effects might have altered your vote, does this mean that pretabulated voting is bad? Isn’t it better to get a score that is from personal experience instead of being effected by the crowd’s vote?

That’s a hard question. For a lot of users, seeing the popular vote helps them make decisions on what to play. It doesn’t make sense to buy a car without seeing the ratings and scores of auto reviewers and previous owners, right? Neglecting popular opinion may lead to the risk of getting the wrong car. The same thing goes for Flash games. People want to know which are the best games to play, and not everyone wants to spend their time playing both good and bad games in hopes of finding good ones. People just want to have fun.

However at the same time, I think it’s a genuine way to vote when you are not effected by other’s votes. Voting straight from experience is the purist way to do it. You like or dislike something based on what you think, not based on what you think and what the rest of the world thinks. And who knows, you may love a game that everyone hated.

It seems like voting is caught in a catch-22… more genuine votes or a better game-seeking experience? It’s hard to tell. What do you think? Do you want to spend time finding good games among the throngs of mediocre ones, or just get straight to the juicy stuff and know your vote may be affected by what you see? At Armor Games we have been discussing implementing both methods, so that users can choose their own way to vote. But we are curious about your opinions on the matter!

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