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Do Poles evaluate games differently than the rest of the world?

At Try Evidence we have often wondered, frequently together with our clients, whether the observations of Polish players participating in our research and playtests are “representative” for the general population of global players. In short: do Poles experience games the same way as the gamers from other parts of the world do? Or maybe they perceive games a bit differently due to their specific cultural conditions, because of their “Polishness”? To dispel these doubts, we decided to check if there are differences in ratings of 48 games selected by us, between players from Poland and players from all over the world.

In order to do this, we compared ratings for selected games given game by players on two Polish gaming portals – gry-online.pl and ppe.pl – with ratings for the same games given by players from around the world on international sites – GameSpot and Metacritic.

Culturally dependent and independent games – what does it mean and how did we choose them

We divided the games selected for analysis into two groups: culturally dependent and culturally independent games.

Culturally dependent games are embedded in the culture or history of a particular country or region.

People from there may find it easier to identify with the themes depicted in such games. We assume that such a situation may influence the evaluation of a given game not only in terms of the quality but also – perhaps mainly – due to this specific cultural similarity (or affinity).

We hypothesized that, in extreme cases, the cultural influence on game evaluation might be so strong that highly culturally dependent games might even be incomprehensible or uninteresting to people outside a given cultural circle.

Culturally independent games are proposals that can be described as universal – dealing with themes that any western gamer can identify with or understand.

There were 24 games in each group. We made sure to keep the proportion of species. There were as many games of each genre in the culturally independent games group as in the culturally dependent games group. We chose them based on internal discussions within Try Evidence, as well as on hints and opinions of people more or less professionally or research related to the game industry, and finally also in discussions with gamers.

Culturally independent games selected for analysis

In the group of culturally independent games, we identified the following:

All the games mentioned above are universal – they cover topics common to many cultures and are understandable to most players around the world.

Culturally dependent games selected for analysis

Among the culturally dependent games, we selected the following:

RTS

  • Northgard – a real-time strategy firmly rooted in the culture of the Vikings and Scandinavian countries. It draws extensively on Norse mythology.
  • Iron Harvest – a game inspired by the works of Jakub Różalski. It presents an alternative history after World War I. The plot is strongly inspired by the history of three countries – Poland, Russia and Germany.

Turn-based strategies

  • Warsaw – tells the story of the Warsaw Uprising (in 1944, during World War II), which was very important to Poles.
  • Thea: The Awakening – a Polish game which very clearly draws on Slavic mythology. The player takes on the role of one of eight Slavic deities.

Action

  • Ghost of Tsushima – the action of the game is set on the titular Japanese island, the player assumes the role of a samurai fighting against Mongol invaders.
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice – a game based on Celtic and Norse beliefs.
  • Okami – strongly refers to Japanese beliefs and culture. The artwork is inspired by the Old Japanese art of sumi-e painting.
  • NieR: Automata – an action game with classic Japanese roots that conquered the west. It features typical Japanese game mechanics and solutions.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl – a game inspired by the works of the Strugatsky brothers, refers to the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl.

Adventure

  • Paradise Lost – adventure game presenting an alternative history after World War II. The player assumes the role of a Polish boy discovering the secrets of a German bunker.
  • 1979 Revolution: Black Friday – focuses on the 1979 Islamic Revolution that led to the overthrow of the dictatorship of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in Iran. It presents historical events from different points of view. The game tells the story of Black Friday, among other things.
  • Raji: An Ancient Epic – a game set in ancient India, inspired by Indian beliefs. It depicts figures of Indian demons and gods.
  • Kentucky Route Zero – the action takes place in the USA in the state of Kentucky, which gives it a typically “American” atmosphere.
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc – a game belonging to a visual novel genre very characteristic for Japan. The story is set in an elite Japanese school.

RPG

  • Yaga – RPG inspired by Slavic folklore.
  • Operencia: The Stolen Sun – draws heavily on the folklore of Central Europe. Many of the locations are variations on actual existing places, such as Hungarian cities and historical figures (such as Atylla).
  • Kingdom Come: Deliverance – a game set in the historical actuality of the Hussite Wars which affected Central Europe in the 15th century.

Survival-driven

  • My Summer Car – is set in Findland and contains elements of the country’s culture.

Hack and Slash

  • Jotun – a game set in Norse mythology.
  • God of War (2018) – draws heavily from Scandinavian myths – both in terms of locations and characters (e.g. Scandinavian gods), events and themes.

Stealth

  • Assassin’s Creed III – depicts the conflict between the indigenous peoples of North America and the colonists. It also tells the story of the American War of Independence.

Platform

  • Never Alone – a game inspired by Inuit legends. Experts on Inuit culture were involved in the creation of this game, so it faithfully captures their folk traditions and details stories of beliefs such as the Sky People, the Rolling Heads, and the Blizzard Man.

Action with melee fighting

  • Darksiders – a variation on the theme of the biblical apocalypse. Loosely refers to Christian beliefs and biblical characters (angels, demons, Horsemen of the Apocalypse).
  • Yakuza 0 – is called the Japanese answer to Grand Theft Auto (although in reality, modern GTA was the answer to Japanese Shenmue, the progenitor of the Yakuza series). The plot revolves around Japanese criminal groups.

Research Findings

Statistical analyses have shown that, overall, there are no significant differences between the ratings of Polish and global players, both for independent and culturally dependent games.

The differences in average game ratings were minimal even when merely looking at the data, without analysis.

For culturally dependent games, the highest observed difference on the 0-10 rating scale was 1.9 points (Kentucky Route Zero), while for culturally independent games it was 1.1 points (Darksiders). The average difference in ratings between Polish and foreign players was 0.67 points in the case of culturally dependent games and 0.3 in the case of independent games. As we mentioned earlier, these small differences are statistically insignificant* if we take into account all analyzed games; which means that ratings of selected sets of games by Polish players and global players do not differ significantly in general.

The differences in the absolute values of the ratings exist at the level of some individual titles. Unfortunately, we did not have a technical opportunity to check whether, for example, in cases such as Kentucky Route Zero, Jotun Operencia, or My Summer Car, the significant differences in the ratings on the part of Poles in relation to the ratings of global players are systematic or accidental. To check these potential scenarios, we would need access to the specific distributions of each rating (the arithmetic average alone is not a sufficient measure to determine the significance of the difference), which we did not have.

It is therefore likely that

Polish gamers experience and evaluate games, in general, similarly to the global population of gamers. Importantly, if we take into account sets of games, Poles’ ratings coincide with the ratings of global players even in the case of culturally dependent games,

which are sometimes set in cultures other than Polish and deal with themes or historical events with which Poles cannot always identify. Poles also statistically rate games that are strongly rooted in Slavic or even specifically Polish cultural contexts in the same way as global players.

How did we research all this?

We conducted the analysis discussed above in early July 2021. For the list we took 48 games belonging to 10 genres (RTS, turn-based strategy, action, adventure, RPG, survival, hack and slash, stealth, platform, brawler), including 24 culturally dependent and 24 culturally independent games. We took out average ratings given to particular games by players from Poland and by players from all over the world. We calculated the “Polish” rating based on community ratings on some of the largest Polish gaming portals – GRY-Online.pl and ppe.pl, and the “global” rating based on player ratings on Metacritic and GameSpot. We then tested whether there were statistically significant differences in game ratings between the two groups of players.

Below are the tables where we’ve provided detailed ratings for each game, taking into account their genre, cultural dependency, and the background of the players giving the rating.

Culturally dependent games – average ratings

 

Culturally independent games – average ratings

 

If you are interested in what and how gamers play and what do they expect from games, we invite you to read the text containing interesting facts on this subject, from our Gaming Sense (2020) report.

*Statistical significance – statistical significance refers to the claim that a result from data generated by testing or experimentation is not likely to occur randomly or by chance but is instead likely to be attributable to a specific cause. Thus – when we compare the results and it turns out that the obtained differences are statistically insignificant, it can be said that the differences in the absolute values of the scores between the studied groups have no practical significance.

Want to cite this article? Do it in an elegant way:

Cieślak, K. (2021, 09 07). Do Poles evaluate games differently than the rest of the world?  https://tryevidence.com/blog/do-poles-evaluate-games-differently-than-the-rest-of-the-world/