The semester report for early 2015

A book displaying "Semester Readings"The single months’ worth of TripAdvisor that are tracked in the League Table feature are only really meaningful as snapshots in time. However, with sufficiently many of them, it is possible to draw slightly more meaningful trends – or, at least, to reflect on how far the industry has come. The Timeline shows that the number of known open exit games in the UK more than doubled over the first half of 2013, more than doubled again over the second half of 2013, doubled over the first half of 2014, more than doubled once more over the second half of 2014 and more than doubled once more still over the first half of 2015. (Those numbers: 1 to 3 to 7 to 14 to 30 to 64.) Past performance is not an indicator of future results, as you may have previously been told, which is just as well or the metaphorical king’s chessboard will become swamped with rice. Already the latest square is looking alarmingly full.

It’s worth occasionally looking at trends in popular reviews of exit games in the UK and Ireland, taken from TripAdvisor statistics. This site is using a little more reserve than once it did with regards to what it says, bearing TripAdvisor’s terms of use in mind; the aim is not to laud or criticise particular sites in this regard, more to look at the bigger picture. Besides, if you run a site and care about your performance in this regard, it’s probably not difficult to work out which site is which from context. As usual, there’s more than a hint of truth in xkcd’s snark about online star ratings; in this world, anything other than full marks (and, especially if you’re on eBay, several pluses and stars) is a “diss that don’t miss”. It’s not necessarily a healthy state of affairs for anyone who cares about subtlety, graduation and shades of light and dark – but, with this in mind, are five-star ratings quite as common as they used to be?

Here’s some raw data, aggregated over the universe of TripAdvisor reviews for exit games in the UK and Ireland that this site was able to find.

Time period Number of reviews Number of 5* reviews Proportion of 5% reviews
To end of June 2014 1665 1532 92%
Second half of 2014 2240 1998 89%
First half of 2015 4248 3900 92%

From these figures, it would be tempting to suggest that the market has increased in quality over the last six months. Indeed, using a z-test, it is statistically significant at a highly meaningful (0.01) level that the proportion of 5* reviews has increased from H2 2014 to H1 2015, but there is no statistical significance in the changes between reviews from “H1 2014 and before” and reviews from H1 2015. These are not quite comparable statistics to the ones that this site presented six months ago; these reflect reviews of all exit games open at that time, rather than comparing like with like directly. They also make the considerable (and untestable) assumption that the standard required for a 5* review is the same as it ever was. An explanation may be as simple as people enjoy playing (mostly indoor) exit games more when they do so in the relatively cold first half of the year than when they do so in the relatively warm second half of the year.

It may be closer to comparing like with like to only consider the 22 sites that have been open since before July 2014, where we have meaningful numbers of reviews (10+, and even that’s a stretch) for H2 2014 and for H1 2015.

Site location Second half of 2014 First half of 2015
  Reviews 5% reviews Prop’n 5% Reviews 5% reviews Prop’n 5%
South 49 41

84% 79 70 89%
N.I. 28 16

57% 24 18 75%
N.I. 28 24

86% 15 13 87%
Midlands 16 5

31% 11 1 9%
South 53 50

94% 64 60 94%
Scotland 226 204

90% 203 167 82%
Scotland 36 35

97% 103 98 95%
Scotland 21 21

100% 119 113 95%
Scotland 68 66

97% 122 109 89%
North 221 210

95% 200 194 97%
North 66 63

95% 156 150 96%
London 292 270

92% 189 178 94%
London 381 348

91% 220 207 94%
London 80 68

85% 37 30 81%
London 92 70

76% 71 54 76%
London 20 19

95% 23 22 96%
London 61 48

79% 104 73 70%
North 14 14

100% 31 30 97%
North 150 133

89% 172 155 90%
Midlands 32 21

66% 27 20 74%
North 232 217

93% 210 203 97%
North 16 16

100% 95 90 95%

The first column is classified as Scotland, Northern Ireland, London, and provincial England is split roughly into North, Midlands and South. There is further ordering in the table which this site chooses not to make explicit but is not hard to deduce. (If you run a site and can’t work out which site you are, you could always ask.)

So, only among these 22 popular and well-established sites:

Time period Number of reviews Number of 5* reviews Proportion of 5% reviews
Second half of 2014 2182 1959 90%
First half of 2015 2275 2055 90%

Practically unchanged – though, beyond the decimal point, a rise from “just under 90%” to “just over 90%”. If one particular site had been getting 100 reviews with 90% 5/5s previous to one half-year and then another 100 reviews with only 75% 5/5s in a half-year then there might be cause for alarm, but the sample sizes here are generally so small that there are only one or two cases in which the observed lowering of the percentage for a particular site is at all meaningfully significant. Run your own tests!

There is one very important assumption that this analysis makes, that the reviews that people leave are a genuinely representative sample of participants. Different sites seem to perform more or less effectively at converting participants into reviewers and it is not clear why. Looking at the geographic locations of reviewers, it’s also sometimes possible that more than one member of the same team might choose to leave a review for some games, though there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that; it’s conceivable that different members of one group might leave – say – both a ***** review and a *** review, rather than the group leaving a single **** review. It’s not unknown, in the wider world at large, for there to be such things as fake reviews; this site isn’t aware of it having happened in the exit games it covers, but it’s not as if it has performed meaningful investigative journalism in this regard.

In conclusion: exit games were awesome up until the second half of 2014, and have been just as awesome in the first half of 2015 as well.

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