Sunday, June 4, 2006

Game Clusters

A while ago, I href=>wrote about
game correlations on BGG. I recently thought it would be
interesting to apply a hierarchical clustering algorithm to those
correlations. So I did. What this yields is a
big nested tree of games, not based on shared attributes such as
"Knizia games" or "auction games", but based on correlations among people's preferences.

It produces a lot of interesting results, many very natural, a few
surprising. For example, the GIPF series ends up clustered along with
Go, Crokinole, Ingenious, Abalone, and Quarto. Of course, it also
ends up near Tongiaki and Oasis, which is a little surprising.

Pretty much all of the mass-market games get clustered together, with
Baloon Cup and Street Soccer being slightly surprising "visitors" to
that cluster. Then, there's the "traditional games" cluster which
ends up with a handful of Kosmos 2-players in the same parent cluster.
Those form a super-cluster with the mass-market games, with Tichu and
Sleuth thrown in.

Another surprising grouping was that the "chaotic game" cluster
(Democrazy, Fluxx, Castle, etc) ended up as a sub-cluster of a larger
cluster dominated by heavy and involved games and a bunch of Steve
Jackson games. I would not hae expected Civilization and "Devil Bunny
Needs a Ham" to end up so close.

I was slightly surprised that there was no single "party games"
cluster. Some, like Apples to Apples, ended up in an abstract games
super-cluster. Others, like Pictionary and Balderdash ended up in a
mini party-games cluster along with a bunch of slightly older Euro
games. Still others like Catchphrase end up in the residual outer
cluster of games that aren't especially strongly linked at all.

Perhaps the greatest trend is the extent to which games that came out
around the same time end up clustered. Perhaps Java, Torres and Ta Yu
have some other commonality other than all coming out 1999-2000, but
that seems an obvious shared attribute.

Are there any clusters that havve an obvious theme/category for 100%
of the games in them other than the ones I've already labeled?

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