What do your ratings mean in ECTOCOMP?

I’ve seen various people discuss what their ratings mean in IFComp: what each star rating means, in their view, and what a game needs to be to achieve a certain one.

I know ECTOCOMP is a lot less formal, but I’m curious: what does it mean for an ECTOCOMP game to be one-star, or two-star, or five-star, in your personal opinion? What makes a game deserve a certain rating?

(I may or may not be looking for inspiration for how to turn my thoughts into star ratings, because I’ve never been especially good at judging comps, but at the same time I want to give feedback on the games I’ve enjoyed.)


I’m a very particular young lady with very particular tastes- and I like to try to stay positive in my reviews. They’re more of a highlights reel of what I enjoyed, versus attempting to take a stab at play-pretend being Mathbrush or Russo in breadth.

Personally, I adhere to the ‘if I don’t have anything nice to say, best to keep mum and move on’ train of thought: so my reviews will skew broadly positive and my rankings do so accordingly as well: very rarely will I hand out less than 5 stars, though I don’t hand out many ratings or reviews in the grand scheme of things.

But if I had to try to assign a general sense to stars, if say, I had to rate every single game something in a hypothetical comp:

5 stars
I love this. I want to yell about how much I love it from the nearest suitable surface to shimmy up like one of those unhinged philosophers in Fallen London. I’m going to tell all of my friends about it, for sure, and I’ll write a review up as well.

4 stars
This is objectively, a great game! Some parts of it might not have worked for me- (this is usually a genre thing, I am quite the fussy little reader, though it can also just be a format thing, I’m not very fond of parsers or puzzle-y games) but it definitely would resonate with others, who I might pass this along to.

3 stars
It’s a game that I see some shiny potential in, but is not one that I enjoy- maybe it’s hampered by excessively purple prose (I know, I know, guilty as charged!), or it’s difficult to make sense of due to a lack of thorough proofreading, or it might simply just not have worked for me and I don’t think it would for someone else who was in the target audience either (a poorly executed genre work sold on its faithfulness to the genre?). Overall, it could be good, great, even- but needs some serious work, to the extent it hampers my enjoyment and I believe it would for others, as well.

2 stars
It’s just not a game I would recommend or particularly enjoy, but it is a game.

1 star
This is either so buggy and broken I can’t play it at all in a meaningful fashion, or it’s disgustingly immoral or straight up illegal content.


I have different standards for Petite Morts than I do for other games, because there are just going to be problems with games written in that short a time. I base my Petite Mort ratings on: 1.) Writing 2.) Completeness 3.) Did the author make a smart choice for a 4-hour game 4.) How much I liked it, and 5.) Mechanics.

There’s the 5 stars. I really don’t ding anybody for typos or underimplementation unless it’s egregious.

For longer games, my rubric is:
1.) Writing, 2.) Mechanics, 3,4,and 5: Enjoyment.

I do ding authors for sloppy writing or technical problems in games where they had as much time as they liked, and I reserve 3 of the 5 stars for how much I liked the game. If it was OK, a star, if it was good, 2 stars, if it was great, 3 stars.

** edit: in a fantastic display of irony, I originally had “sloppy wiring” instead of “sloppy writing.” Somebody should take a star away from me.


Late to this one, but while I have mostly tended to not do star ratings lately (the review should speak for itself without any arbitrary attempt to fit in some numbers), I think what I’ll probably end up doing is using more like a tier system. That means I’ll have to play all of the games in a given category (or as many as I can) before I can vote on them because they’ll all be sort of relative. I’m thinking of it more like, “I think these were the best games I played [whatever those end up being]… 5 stars.” These were the next best set… 4 stars. And so on.

So far I don’t think I’ve played a game that I would call 1-star; it would have to be basically broken and/or unplayable in some way that goes unfixed and that hasn’t happened. I want to tend toward generosity, especially because I’m sensitive to the idea that any author could otherwise low-ball all the other entries if they wanted to.