So, continuing my thoughts:
Right so for the casual reader I believe play through word count is not useful as I’ve already outlined. As for the dedicated reader/writer, (i.e. most of us here) well there is what I want to call the “looping length problem”. That is, some games have intentional loops, repeating parts of text repeatedly or otherwise have various chunks doing work outside of the scope of what they might do without subroutines or loops. This is primarily an HG problem, but it’s not exactly unheard of with CoG.
To point a few HGs out as examples, The Great Tournament has a huge section of simulation game style wandering around from town to town to power up, My Day off Work is predicated on the idea of wandering around town finding things to interact with, and The Iron Destinies is entirely dedicated to the idea of replaying as a gameplay mechanic, to the point where large chunks of the game are locked off until you reach certain endings. Not one of these games provides a clean method of determining what “counts” when you start talking about gameplay word count.
Do you count every time it lists your HP in a fight in TGT? My Day off Work includes descriptions you can poke at, but not get into, and a lot of paths take a bit of dedication to reach, dedication that is possible with a real reader, but not really common if you just randomly mash buttons (as
randomtest does). And what about The Iron Destinies? You’re meant to play through again, playing through just the one time is not a full game. What counts there?
To sum up my point, the random play through length is not a good indicator of the actual shape of a game without the proper context of how games are designed, which is why I don’t think listing playthough word counts if useful for the dedicated reader/writer either (at least in it being in game descriptions). If someone wants to see that, it really only becomes useful in a whole spreadsheet with notes on how the game structure may differ from the standard branching/delayed branching.
IIRC, average play through length (i.e. the length you get from running
randomtest with word count on), was longer in Foraker. It was larger in every respect.
I believe you’re right, but the general point still stands. Most readers don’t actually have a good sense of the size or design of games.
And to the point that a long game can ‘feel’ short and a short game can ‘feel’ long by pulling the right emotional strings, well, I think that’s just another thing to throw on the pile of why I think average play through lengths being listed is not useful.