Wikidata and the sum of all video games − 2021 edition

It’s that time of the year! After the 2018, 2019 and 2020 recaps, let’s cover what happened in 2021 with the project that has been much out of my focus this year (but still in my heart), Wikidata’s WikiProject Video games. If you are not familiar with that endeavor, I will refer you to the mushroom-rambling blog-post I wrote in September 2019.

Overview

As of January 29th 2021, there are 45.3K video game (Q7889) items on Wikidata − a 7,8% growth (3,3K items) over the year.

As always, let’s have a look on how well these items are described: 6,4K have no platform (P400), 10.5K no publication date (P577), 12.3K no genre (P136) − somewhat worse numbers than last year: again the overall proportion of well-described items went down, as we added more items.

Regarding external identifiers: only 800 items do not have any (1.8%). Like last year, this is still slightly misleading, as this figure includes items with vglist video game ID (P8351), which is itself based on Wikidata. Excluding vglist, we arrive at 1.2K items (2.6%). Down from 12.5% a year ago, 22% the year before and 40% the year before that − we are still on a good trend 🙂

…or so I thought: by improving the query to only count properties related to video games (Q28147643), the number goes up to 6557 items. After a couple of spot checks, my guess was that the main contributor to this discrepancy was Freebase ID (P646) (and a quick query does seem to indicate this accounts for over 4.3K items). So I guess we are back at 15% 🙂

Externals identifiers

We have now reached 274 video-game related external identifiers (compared to 240 external last year). Again, the additions cover various languages: Japanese (Japan PlayStation Software Database ID (P9636) or Famitsu game ID (P10144)), Czech (Databáze her ID (P10096)), Italian (everyeye.it ID (P10248)), Spanish (AbandonSocios ID (P9987)), French (IndieMag game ID (P9870) or Gameblog.fr game ID (P9702)), German (WiiG game ID (P9806) or Adventure Corner video game ID (P9747)) and quite a few in Russian (StopGame ID (P10030), Games@Mail.ru ID (P9697) etc.) taken from the Russian-language-Wikipedia list of videogame-related reliable sources − an amazing (and ongoing) work from Russian-language editors!

In terms of specialization, most of this year’s databases are fairly generic ones, besides the occasional platform specialization (Nintendo64EVER ID (P10137) & N64-Database ID (P10169) for the Nintendo 64) ; IndieMag game ID (P9870) focuses on indie games and Adventure Corner video game ID (P9747) on adventures games. I’m however pretty pleased with the inclusion of Games und Erinnerungskultur Datenbank ID (P9709), I believe the first and only scholarly database of video games we have so far.

Most of the identifiers are about games ; but we also got a new identifier for genres (Glitchwave genre ID (P10049), courtesy of Wikiproject Music “herder of genres” [[User:Solidest]]) and for series (Igromania series ID (P9835) − together with some nice OpenRefine batches by [[User:Kirilloparma]]).

Mix’n’match catalogues, which we use to align the external database with Wikidata, went from 209 to 235. Among these are the platforms and genres from the late AllGame (Q18984) database, continuing my interest in defunct databases.

Some other things in no particular order

Data modeling

I don’t believe our data model evolved at all this year − no new properties, and no new documented modeling. The only instance I can think of was the failed proposal for an “alternative title” property, which more or less consecrated the use of multiple title (P1476) (with relevant qualifiers) statements.

EDIT: meanwhile, Kirilloparma reminded me of announced at (P9731), which as a qualifier to announcement date (P6949) specifies at which important event a game or hardware was announced. And here is a little query to sort events by number of video games announced.

The road ahead

Dare I say it? We still did not make progress on whether we want to implement a more sophisticated data model for work/releases. Perhaps that will not happen after all, and we will stick to a single, Work-level data model (which is after all what made sense to start with for Wikipedia articles). However, I do think we must eventually expand our grammar and vocabulary to model things like art styles, perspective/viewpoint, pacing, narrative style or gameplay features. Maybe one day 🙂

Besides that, and while I try to keep my ambitions contained − there is one area I would like to facilitate: while the project is active with several contributors, it often feels that each one of us works in isolation on their own topics. I miss the days of collaboration of the month/quarter on French Wikipedia, perhaps I will try to facilitate a focused effort − can be on a genre, or a platform, or anything really: just something to make greater strides and see more visible results. Let’s see!

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