Inverse Rule of Gaming: Part III–Early Results

Okay, the initial results are in!  I sampled 100 games at random on Boardgamegeek, recording the average rating (of all games that I found with at least 5 ratings) and assigned a salicousness score from 0 (no females depicted) to 5 (practically softcore pornography) based on the cover art/photo (nb: if there was no cover art/photo, I omitted that game).

I found games from 2017, games from pretty much all decades since the 1940s, some classic games (like monopoly), and even some games from my childhood that I had forgotten about (I’m talking about you, Chopper Strike!).

Here are the results:

Is there a correlation between game rating and salacious rating?



Game rating: score on BGG 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest)

Salacious rating: score from 0 (lowest) to 5 (highest)


Hypothesis: the higher the Salacious rating, the lower the Game rating.  


RESULTS (from n=100, simple random sampling)



The trend line is clearly a negative relationship: then greater the Salcious rating, the lower the BGG rating.  However, there are a number of issues.

  1. There are not many cases where Salcious > 0.
  2. There is not a single case where Salacious > 2.
  3. There is a single case with both a low BGG and Salacious = 1 that might be driving the estimate.

What to do?  Well, for my next analysis I am going to use cluster sampling.  I already have enough cases where Salacious = 0.  I will need to look at batches of possible cases and sample only those with Salacious > 0.  This will give me enough cases in the sub-groups to run a more robust analysis.


Early Verdict:

The small sample (n=100) seems to imply that the hypothesis has some credibility.  However, a larger sample with more cases of salacious marketing on covers needs to be done.

Next Time: The Inver Rile of Gaming: Part IV–The Final Results


Inverse Rule of Gaming: Part II – The Methodology

Welcome back!  Today in Part II of my examination of the Inverse Rule of Gaming, I outline my research methods.  Wait…you don’t remember what the inverse rule of gaming is?  Well, I am here to help!

Inverse Rule of Gaming: The more female flesh and/or salacious images used to market a board game/table-top game/RPG/war game/etc., the more likely the game is poor.

If you need more information, check out Inverse Rule of Gaming: Part I — The Theory.

Research Methods

The first thing is to operationalize my variables.

Independent variable: Salaciousness — the degree that sex as represented by female flesh, sexual poses, sexual innuendo, etc, is depicted in the cover art of the product.  This is an objective measure and your faithful narrator, me that is, is going to code box covers.

Here is the ordinal scale that I am going to use:

0 – No female representation at all

1- Female(s) depicted, but in normal/appropriate clothing

2 – Female(s) depicted with exposed flesh/nudity

3 – Female(s) depicted with/without nudity and in an alluring/suggestive pose

4 – Female(s) depicted in a pose that connotes a sexual posture or a great deal of flesh exposed

5 – Female(s) depicted in a pose that connotes pornography or sexual acts

Clockwise from top left: Indy Car Unplugged=0, One Deck Dungeon=1 (females, but all clothed appropriate for combat), Warlord: Sage of the Storm=2 (notice the breasts sticking out and unneeded skin showing), Android: Infiltration=3 (basically a nude robot), Tales of the Arabian Nights=4 (a lot of flesh and a sexual posture), Oral Sex! The Game=5 (duh!).

Sampling Method

I will employ simple random sampling for my poll.  How do I do this?  Here is the method:

1- go to

2 – Hover the cursor over “Browse”

3 – Click on “Random game”

4 – Obtain the “average rating” and determine the “salaciousness” of the art.

I intend to sample 100 games for my “early results” just to see if any association is present.  I hope to sample 1000 games for my complete results.

Data Analysis Method

Given that the independent variable is ordinal and the dependent variable is interval and likely normally distributed (or a simple transformation can make it approximate a normal distribution), a One-Way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) would be the best associative method to use.  For those unfamiliar with the method, check out the Wikipedia entry  here.

Okay, that’s it for now until Part III – Early Results.

Make Mine Marvel!


Inverse Rule of Gaming: Part I — The Theory

This is the first in a series of blog posts on a sensitive subject: The Inverse Rule of Gaming!

What is the Inverse Rule of Gaming you ask?  Well, I am here to tell you!  Let’s start with some basics.

The Inverse Rule of Gaming: The Theory

First, game designers and publishers have some idea about how “good” their game is going to be once it is released.  They have some knowledge of the quality of the materials, the quality and clarity of the rules, the overall presentation, the complexity of the game, the enjoyment of the game, etc.  Much like any economic “good” or “product” if you prefer, be it a car, a shovel, a song, a piece of art, or a board game, the producer of that good has some estimation of the overall quality.

Second, game designers and publishers seek to have their game as profitable as possible.  This is a business, and making profits allows game designers to eat and feed their families and game publishers to survive and grow.  Thus, game designers and publishers would like to sell as many units of their game as possible.

Third, marketing is one way to both inform and entice consumers to buy your product.  You must have an enticing message in order to lure in customers in a crowded marketplace.  This message can take many forms and contain any sort of information that might lure or convince a consumer to purchase the item.

Fourth, and here is a basic tenet of the board game industry: most of the consumers are male.  Yep, still the truth.  It is changing as more females have become board game consumers, and maybe someday there will be an equal number of male and female consumers.  But right now, this is not true, and in the past it has been even more lopsided.  If you haven’t been to a convention or visited a game store, check it out.  When my wife walks into a game store with me, the place still grinds to a halt as the male gamers turn to look.

Fifth, let’s combine a number of facts to arrive at this point: one way to market to males is to use female flesh.  Yep, throw a picture of a female, especially an attractive or undressed female, near your product advertising and bam! the male brain goes haywire.  Studies have shown that the male ability to do long-term planning drops and the need to satisfy a short-term interest goes up when men are exposed to such marketing.  Thus, should I spend $60 on that game when I need that money to pay bills quickly turns into “I got to buy it!” when a salacious picture appears next to or on the product.  There are many variations of this marketing trick: have actual women promote the product, using female voice-overs on radio, etc.

Sixth, the use of female flesh marketing often is utilized to cover up a lack of quality in a product.  Think of this tactic as a last resort.  If the producer cannot sell you on any particular quality of the product, there is still the possibility that they can get you to buy it by short-circuiting your brain with women.

If you do not believe me, surely you have seen the Game of War: Fire Age commercials with Kate Upton, right?!?

GoW Fire Age 01

Does that “armor” really look like it would protect Miss Upton in this battle?  And how many women engaged in Middle Ages combat anyway?  And even if they did, were they dressed like Miss Upton?  I don’t think so!

Now, mind you, I have never played Game of War: Fire Age even once.  But why would I?!?  Clearly they are trying to lure me in with a buxom blonde babe.  How good could the game actually be?

The Inverse Rule of Gaming: Definition

And this gets us to the point of this blog: the Inverse Rule of Gaming.  We can now clearly define it:

  • Definition: The more female flesh and/or salacious images used to market a board game/table-top game/RPG/war game/etc, the more likely the game is poor.

In other words, if a game gets marketed to the public using the “female flesh” marketing technique, there is a greater chance that the game is below average and that the marketing is intended to cover it up.

In my alter ego, in other words my non-gamer blog persona, I am a social scientist.  So…I will now turn to Science for answers!!!!!

Now I formulate a clear research hypothesis and null hypothesis:

  • H1 (my research hypothesis): The more salacious the advertising, the more likely the game is below average
  • H0 (the null hypothesis): The level of salacious advertising is not related to the quality of the game

This is indeed an important object of study.  In short, does the game industry follow the basic trend of other industries aimed at male consumption?  Does the Inverse rule hold or is the gaming industry different?

Next: Part II — The Research Design

In a forthcoming blog (Part II), I outline my research method to operationalize my variables (salaciousness and quality) and my sampling method to collect my data.  In Part III, I present some initial findings.  In Part IV, I complete the entire analysis and present my final conclusions.

Be there or be square!