Discussion in 'Psychology' started by Teh_Shadrin, Dec 6, 2008.

  1. Teh_Shadrin

    Teh_Shadrin New Member

    Specifically, the popularity of 'things', such as music, books, and probably most relevant for sirlin.netters, games.

    So I found this article, and accompanying Slashdot post.

    Basically, it confirms what we already (should) know. What becomes the most popular is pretty much arbitrary and random. Furthermore, popularity snowballs. The most popular become more and more popular, leaving the others further and further behind.

    But, can this effect possibly limited so that the best become the most popular consistently? The Slashdot post explores some ideas about that.

    If you were making say, a game download service similar to Xbox Live. How would you ensure that the best games would become most popular? How do you even define best?

    Also, have this somewhat related article because I thought it was interesting.
  2. 2000 IQ Killjoy Gamer link6616

    2000 IQ Killjoy Gamer link6616 Well-Known Member

    Well, if you wanted to ensure the best games became the most popular, you'd have to really convince everyone that it was the best game first, so they'd buy it/play it.

    Then it would actually have to be one of the best, so that A tells the rest of the alphabet, and they buy it

    Then hopefully the 26 downloads with high ranking on the game will ensure that all the real numbers grab a copy, and hopefully moving on to variables, imaginary numbers and so on.
  3. Teh_Shadrin

    Teh_Shadrin New Member

    Oh, you make it sound so simple. How come I never thought of this before?
  4. 2000 IQ Killjoy Gamer link6616

    2000 IQ Killjoy Gamer link6616 Well-Known Member

    The idea is simple, the execution is not. Which is sad.

    I think that really, you can't ensure the best IS the most popular, because there is a difference between quality and perceived quality. Then audiences.

    So lets say that ST is the best fighting game, period.

    Tekken 5, however, have more moves. So, it looks like theres more to it. It have more characters, and more, well, everything. Why wouldn't I pick tekken?

    SC4 though, has swords and custom characters, awesome, custom characters mean I can have as many as I want, lots of depth.

    Then you look at ST, and see some sprites. Old. Only 17 characters (or however many there are), boring. only a few moves each, boring.

    The best may not look like the best, even if it is. So, really, you need to get the best, looking like the best, which may well mean that the best isn't the best anymore.
  5. FinalSlayer

    FinalSlayer Banned

    Well, that's completely different than what the article said.

    Good songs/movies/books rarely do poorly and bad songs/movies/books rarely do well, unless they have an extreme amount of ads and hype surrounding them.

    That's a very important distinction you excluded from your oversimplified conclusion, and a major reason why anyone cares about quality.

    There's also the issue of a creating a brand name one can trust. The first "Pirates of the Caribbean" made less money than either of its two sequels, despite being the best film of the series.

    However, thanks to the positive association created by the quality of the initial work, the later ones were able to do better than they would otherwise. Alternatively, consider the latest Indiana Jones film and how much it benefited from movies made two decades ago.

    And really, the article merely indicates that marketing, distribution, size of the target audience, etc. are all really fucking important to the success of a product, too.

    And comparing mediums as well as genres, there are a whole host of unique problems intrinsic to each one. Having a good comedy film achieve popularity is completely different than a good action film attaining success is different than a first person shooter making lots of money.

    Which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has thought about the problem for ten seconds.

    First define best. Then we can move on to the actual problem.
  6. Teh_Shadrin

    Teh_Shadrin New Member

    Note the 'pretty much' in my quoted statement. I know what the article said, and I am not disagreeing with it. I even quoted that statement exactly in my OP. I do actually read what I quote and link.

    True, although not specifically dealt with in the study. In some ways, sequels could be thought of as an extension of the first product, but not completely.

    The linked Slashdot response deals somewhat with this. It talks a little about blogs, and how popularity and quality are much differently assessed and achieved from music.

    IIRC the definition the study worked with was to take a random sample of 20ish people to rate the object in question (before released to the public), and then take the average of that. Unless someone else proposes a better definition, that's the one I'm going to be operating with.
  7. snarles

    snarles Member

    People who judge based on popularity do so because they don't have enough confidence in their own judgment. Popularity is a useful guide, since more often than not, what is popular does have some merit, but at the same time, unpopularity tells you nothing about the quality of the idea. An idea that everyone hates is quite likely to be right.
  8. Teh_Shadrin

    Teh_Shadrin New Member

    That's still popularity, it's just of a negative quality. Infamy essentially. Unpopularity would be a lack of attention altogether. How many people hated an idea doesn't tell you much about the quality of that idea. I hate my pseudoscience and religion, and they hate my skepticism and atheism back, so which idea is right? Are my ideas more correct just because more people hate them? Most people hate the way Bush handled his presidency, does that mean he is suddenly right? Choosing based on how many people hate something is as faulty (perhaps slightly more) as choosing based on how many people love something.

    I don't think most people choose solely based on popularity, but it does influence their decisions, if perhaps unconsciously. If I was browsing a music download site similar to the one in the study, I probably wouldn't have the patience to try all various songs, so I would start with the most popular, and work my way down however far I have patience for, downloading the songs that I enjoyed. So popularity in this instance is somewhat influencing my decision, and I'm contributing to the snowball effect.
  9. FinalSlayer

    FinalSlayer Banned

    But it's not pretty much. In fact, what you wrote is completely wrong.

    There IS a very strong correlation between quality and success, which you would know if you examined the article more closely, instead of a connection which you claim is "arbitrary and random". In fact, the whole point of the article is to prove that the latter statement is inaccurate, and where it fails.

    Why do you feel the need to simplify their conclusion even further, to the point where it becomes a wrong or meaningless statement?

    Two sentences, with absolutely nothing to say. I'm pointing out that there's a lot of other things to consider besides the variables looked at in the study. You reply that the article doesn't go into them. I then thank you for repeating the obvious, implied fact in my first statement.


    That's an awful and non-rigorous definition.

    If I took 20 random people off the streets and made them listen to Slayer's 1986 album "Reign in Blood", one of the 3 or 5 most influential, highly-regarded metal compilations ever released, most would hate it.

    If I took 20 random metal fans, it would be about half and half. If I took 20 random thrash metal fans, they would all love it.

    So tell me...how streamlined should the sample be?

    Also, how much background and knowledge should you require from each fan? Certain music is almost an acquired taste, and there are a lot of "poser" fans in each genre.

    To make a video game analogy, there are a lot of quote unquote fighting game fans who only play the Soul Calibur and DOA series, and hate games like Virtua Fighter, Guilty Gear, and Super Turbo.

    If you chose a sample of them to rate the quality of different fighters, you'd get interesting conclusions like Soul Calibur 3 being superior to Super Turbo, for instance.

    So tell me how random you want that sample of 20 to be.
  10. Teh_Shadrin

    Teh_Shadrin New Member

    I think that I'm not communicating my points efficiently, I'll try and clarify.

    To me 'pretty much' implies that the statement is mostly correct, but there are exceptions. In this case, being that the best songs never seem to do really poorly, and the and the worst never seem to do really well. I do however see in retrospect how that could be misinterpreted to be more absolutist then I meant it to.

    I don't see that in the article. I see 'the best' and 'the worst' but not 'good' and 'bad'. There is an important distinction there.

    Two sentences, with absolutely nothing to say. I'm pointing out that there's a lot of other things to consider besides the variables looked at in the study. You reply that the article doesn't go into them. I then thank you for repeating the obvious, implied fact in my first statement.

    Seeing how I linked it, one would assume I read it, and that I wish the reader of my post to read it. Therefore I would assume that we are starting with a baseline that I recognize that the problem exists.

    If I were making a music site, I would choose 20 random people who use the site, and profess an interest in the genre of the song in question. Note, the offer is still open for you to provide a better definition if you so choose.
  11. FinalSlayer

    FinalSlayer Banned

    That's still NOT what they say, though! There's no mention of "really". Good songs do at least decently in the overwhelming majority of cases, and bad songs almost never do well in the overwhelming majority of cases.

    That's very significant, and fundamentally different from what you posted about it being mostly arbitrary.

    What is the distinction, then? I can define "good" as "the best X songs in a given year" and "bad" as "the worst Y songs in a given year".

    You've mostly ignored my question. How specific do you want this genre to be?

    Rock? Metal? Thrash metal? 80's classic thrash metal? 80's classic thrash metal with black and death metal influences? Fans of Slayer specifically?

    How far do you want to take this?
  12. Teh_Shadrin

    Teh_Shadrin New Member

    Sorry for putting in really? In the future I won't include that word.

    To me, '"best" implies a single, perhaps a few if they are of close quality, of the top. "Good" to me means some arbitrary and subjective level where I start to enjoy it.

    Ultimately, any line I draw will be somewhat arbitrary. However, I suppose I would put it at "Thrash metal", if only because that's what gets put on the CDs, and thus what the songs would get known as in the eyes of the public.
  13. FinalSlayer

    FinalSlayer Banned

    Would you rather promote a thrash metal album rated an 8.02/10 by a notoriously fickle, predominantly male, older, more seasoned group of fans, or a teen pop album rated an 8.04/10 by a younger, predominantly female, less experienced group of fans?

    And how would you compare the two genres? Do you take the sizes of the two into account? The percentage chance that they will buy something they like?

    What would be your algorithm for determining the "absolute best" songs (your words) with this definition?
  14. Teh_Shadrin

    Teh_Shadrin New Member

    Ah, I was sorta operating under the assumption that each genre would be it's own self-contained world. So the teen pop song wouldn't effect the thrash metal. In the site I'm envisioning, you could get a list of genres, then sort by rating in that genre, but you wouldn't be able to sort the entire selection by rating, due to the problem you mentioned. Clearly teen pop fans have different tastes and experiences than thrash metal fans, and one shouldn't influence the comparative quality of another. (I don't think I worded that quite how I wanted to... but oh well.)
  15. elliott20

    elliott20 Member

    I personally believe that quality is actually very important to the success of any product. But quality alone does not define the success (and therefore popularity) of a product. After all, your product needs to map to a specific market or else it will fail horribly. That's why the whole AIBO thing by Sony was a flop. The AIBO, btw, was the robotic puppy that showed up on the market for a shortwhile and then promptly disappeared. The reason why? because there was no inherent market for it due to it's high price tag AND it answers to no existing market.

    Having said that though, a crappy product that has a huge marketing effort behind it will only lead to the products infamy. i.e. that game with 50 Cent in it.
  16. FinalSlayer

    FinalSlayer Banned

    There's already a more reliable system for this that has been around for a few decades. Namely, charts for each individual genre, as well as the Billboard Top whatever.

    With the Internet, I'm sure every site has these. They're nothing new, but even within their specific genres, they still do a piss-poor job of identifying what is actually good.

    Since you probably don't know much about metal, so consider video games again.

    Even if you had "fans" rate titles within the genre of "fighting games", you'd get lovely results like DOA4 being rated and SC3 being rated higher than Super Turbo.

    The results would be useless, nothing but a reflection of the mainstream popularity of the fighter.

    Let's ignore useless concepts like infamy and focus on the money.

    I can think of dozens of crappy, unoriginal, sometimes plagiarized products with huge marketing efforts that made lots of money.

    Cloverfield, Dukes of Hazzard film, Harry Potter books, The Da Vinci Code, etc, etc.
  17. Teh_Shadrin

    Teh_Shadrin New Member

    You're rather depressingly right about my lack of knowledge about metal. Anyway, perhaps you could take a group of 'experts' to rate the game, such as game designers, pro gamers, respected bloggers, whatever. Of course, defining who experts are is another problem in itself. Clearly, I am suffering from a lack of inspiration on this topic, and also, I am curious as to any solutions you might have to this problem.
  18. FinalSlayer

    FinalSlayer Banned

    Solutions? Take 3 legitimate experts with a lot of experience and good taste in the genre, and have them give rankings anonymously. Compensate them for giving a completely honest, unbiased opinion of the matter.

    Of course, what you would do with that ranking is a completely different matter.

    And what exactly are you trying to do here? Trying to decide which music gets made into an album, which album then receives heavy promotion, or a recommendation system for widely available albums?

    All three would be approached in completely different manners.
  19. Teh_Shadrin

    Teh_Shadrin New Member

    The bolded. Specifically, in a way that works in making the highest rated albums also become the most popular.
  20. 2000 IQ Killjoy Gamer link6616

    2000 IQ Killjoy Gamer link6616 Well-Known Member

    not biased or prejudiced; fair; impartial

    Okay, you will never get an 'unbiased' answer because you will ALWAYS have bias. Always. I cannot think of a single situation where your opinion on something would be solely based on the actual thing itself, you may not realize the bias you put in, but it's there.

    That's just a little rant, that really means nothing, as the intention of the word is clear.

    The other bolded bit though is really simple. How do you know what good taste is? Popular opinion? Then there's your point on how specific the genre is. Will we say there are fighting games, or 2D, 3D and party fighters. What about 3D free moving fighters compared to restricted 3d fighters (SC vs Tekken). What about technical fighters vs... other fighters (GG vs ST).

    I could go on, although not for much longer, but I could go on. Good taste is a very subjective area. Also, you have to consider expert opinions for normal people.
    (hypothetical, and slightly exaggerated examples)
    Fighting game expert: ST is worth and A++++++

    1 reaction, the 'hardcore' gamer
    John: O rly? It's just another SF game, who cares. I trust you though
    *john plays the game*
    Yeah it's fun, but it's too simple

    2, the parents
    Maggie: Oh, that does sound like an awfully good reason to buy the game, doesn't it Jason
    Jason: Yes dear
    *They go home, and play it*
    Maggie: That is dreafully hard, I have no clue how to play it, this manual thing is just too hard to understand!
    Jason: Yes Dear

    3. the kids
    Maggie: Here josh, have this game, ST, it's really highly recommended.
    Josh: Thanks mum
    Josh: Look a fire ball!
    Jason: Thats nice
    Josh: HADOKEN! Yeah, bam. Look chris I can do a hadoken!
    Chris: How do you do that!
    Josh: it's my secret tech, you're going to have to learn it yourself!
    *1 weeks later*
    Look, mitsurugi so SO much better then Ivy, he has a samurai sword, SLASH SLASH
    *2 weeks later*
    Link is better then marth
    *3 weeks later*
    Ky is better then everyone*
    ... And so on
    (weeks increase thanks to more unlockables)

    I think by these quick excerpts from potential possibilities shows the point that an expert opinion doesn't work for everyone. Many expert opinions will attack a game for being to 'casual' which may well be what some people want. For instance Brawl is hated by a lot of people who want it to be, well, more then just a party fighter. Which it's bad at being, AS a party fighter for those who'd never take it seriously, it's a great game to play. Like mario party isn't all that great as a serious game, but no ever tried to make it one (I hope)

    You need an opinion to match the audience. That means if you are reviewing for male 17 year old idiots with no taste in games, then to recommend something to them, you must forgo your taste and intellect, and then look at how good Tomb raider is for those people.
  21. FinalSlayer

    FinalSlayer Banned

    What an incoherent mess of a post, link.

    You could have just said, "when you say best product, from whose consumer perspective were you talking about?"

    Which, if you'll read, was the EXACT SAME THING I've written my last five posts about. I know you're not an idiot, but honestly, read more carefully next time.
  22. elliott20

    elliott20 Member

    Except those DO serve a market, namely, they accessorize and build off of the movies. Sure, they were not GOOD games, but their success has little to do with quality and everything to do with the franchise synergy. Though, I would hesitate to say that they were huge successes. (I'll have to find some numbers on that.)
  23. Teh_Shadrin

    Teh_Shadrin New Member

    This is easily solved by getting the opinion of more than just a pro gamer. You could get a variety of different opinions from various sources. If you were doing a website, you could have a feature where users would be able to rate the reviewers on how much they agree and disagree with them, and the recommendations would change to accommodate that.
  24. 2000 IQ Killjoy Gamer link6616

    2000 IQ Killjoy Gamer link6616 Well-Known Member

    With that though, you would need to identify what sort of user they are. Otherwise you'd just be dishing out the top X user rated games of game rankings per genre
  25. Teh_Shadrin

    Teh_Shadrin New Member

    I think I know what you're saying, but I'm not quite sure, and I think you misunderstood me.

    A specific user could rate how much they agree/disagree with the expert reviewer, then for that specific user, it would weight the reviewers scores differently. It wouldn't effect the rest of the community
  26. FinalSlayer

    FinalSlayer Banned

    Right...and when did I write that they didn't?

    What games? Did you even read my post? I named several books and movies. No games.

    I think maybe this is where you got confused. Also, "synergy" is probably the single most misused word when people are trying to sound smart. And unfortunately, your post was no exception.

    Maybe not the games...but yes, the Harry Potter books, Da Vinci Code, and two films I mentioned were all enormous successes.
  27. elliott20

    elliott20 Member

    oh you WERE just talking about the books/movies. nevermind then. I thought you were referring to the games here.
  28. R.Kefka

    R.Kefka New Member

    FS is right in that we need to define quality, and that's pretty difficult. If it comes down to how enjoyable something is, popularity is the measure of its quality. You would only know how good something is by how many people enjoy it, and the only way to know if it was enjoyable would be to expose it to more people.

    If you derive "quality" from other factors--enjoyment being one of them, but not the most important--then it's safe to say the "best" won't always be the most popular, which is how Ivory Tower Construction Co. gets all its business.

    If you want to really figure out how to determine if something will be popular, I'm betting you need to do a fuck-ton of brain analysis to figure out what makes something enjoyable, including its marketing. Certain melodies and progressions that click with people and lyrics that speak to them and different kinds of voices that will hit these receptors and how to market a song or band or book or movie in the most psychologically effective way possible and the algorithm for how preferences change depending on socio-cultural circumstances across new generations: that's all you have to figure out.

    Isn't it easy?
  29. elliott20

    elliott20 Member

    this is why business analysis usually tries to shy away from using qualitative measurements for quality and opt for quantitative. the problem is, these matrices still fall short when it comes to what people like and often you'll still need to rely on good ol' fashion instincts to figure out what is good and will work, and what is just junk will fail.

    the marketing side is instead all about matching characteristics of demographics to products. And while that is effective in some instances, you often end up with bean counter syndrome where the marketing runs the development process. (which can be hazardous for creative content products like videogames)
  30. sage

    sage Well-Known Member

    If I recall that is the whole plot of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
  31. R.Kefka

    R.Kefka New Member

    Really? Maybe I'll have to take a look at the book then. I'd heard of it but never felt interest... you just piqued my curiosity.
  32. Radix

    Radix New Member

    Nothing is random. However, a lot of factors enter into something like popularity.

    That's why marketing efforts have begun to move to looking for what people want before actually producing anything at all.
  33. Margalis

    Margalis Banned

    Many of the most wildly successful products are products that people didn't know they wanted until they were available.

    Insert joke about Sony vs Nintendo here.

    Try impossible. Every definition will eventually boil down to "quality is what I and people like me think is quality."

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