Among us gamers

Hi there! Eddie here. At Datawrapper, you can find me on the other side of support@datawrapper.de answering any questions you may have about the tool or data visualization itself. (I speak Spanish and French, so you are always welcome to reach out in those languages.) Today I’m going to tell you about one of my favorite pastimes: video games.

Like millions of people worldwide, I suddenly found myself with some time to spare. I filled up that time by experimenting with new recipes, attempting (and failing) to learn some Chinese, exercising, and, most recently, playing video games.

My favorite games of all times

Stardew Valley is an open-ended country-life RPG, where users can do anything from farming to mining or building relationships. Released in 2016, the game was developed over four years by only one person: Eric Barone (ConcernedApe).

Samorost 3 is a point-and-click adventure released in March 2016 and developed by the Czech independent video game company Amanita Design. The game follows a gnome on his journey through space, where he has to solve puzzles.

I’ve always enjoyed video games, but I never really had the time or interest to commit to one game from beginning to end.

Then I discovered Stardew Valley.

This farm simulator allows you to do almost anything: from growing your vegetables to exploring mines or building relationships with other villagers. Its premise might seem simple, but this game captivated me with its beautiful pixel-art, music, and wholesome story development. And even more so when I discovered that this brilliant game was built by one person only: Eric Barone (also known as ConcernedApe).

And I’m not alone in the praise for Stardew Valley:

The success of indie games

Stardew Valley is what we know as an indie game, which by definition, means a game created by an individual or a small development team. That’s also true for the current sensation Among Us. When this game was released in November 2018, it was received with little fanfare. However, and thanks to stream services like Twitch and Youtube, the game’s popularity is growing and growing among teenagers and, most recently, even the U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that all indie games will end up in success. To understand if they are as acclaimed by users as they seem to be, I decided to look at the Best of Steam in 2019. It lists the games with the most simultaneous players on Steam, a distribution platform[1]. I scraped the data from Steam’s website to create the following scatterplot:

In 2019, 31% of the most played video games on this list were indie games (including my big favorite Stardew Valley – yay!). The rest of the games were either created by large development companies or conglomerates. Indie games also scored better on the list, with almost 90% of them receiving “overwhelmingly positive” and “very positive” reviews, compared to 78% of non-indie games.

What are gamers looking for?

But not everything is about being indie. Gamers seem to lean towards games with specific characteristics:

Steam’s users seemed to enjoy genres like Action (69%) and Adeventure (51%), but also valued positively other features like the atmosphere, the soundtrack, and the story:

The How-To

While creating the scatterplot above, these Datawrapper Academy and blog articles helped me out:

  1. How to insert images almost anywhere helped me to add the game covers from Steam to the tooltips.
  2. Brelinski doesn’t like 100% chocolate — This Weekly Chart by Lisa taught me the art of jittering, which is a great method if you have a scatterplot with too many overlapping data points. The same is true for this other Weekly Chart by Fabian.
  3. How to calculate in added columns helped me to calculate the jittering directly in step 2: Check & Describe in Datawrapper.
  4. And finally, Scatterplots: Add custom lines and areas taught me how to create these grey boxes in the scatterplot.

And a final thanks to Lisa for always making my visualizations look better!


That’s everything for this week! Do you also enjoy indie games? What are your favorite games? Feel free to drop me an email with the answers to those questions at edurne@datawrapper.de, or leave a comment below. Next week, my colleague Aya, also from our support team, will be in charge of the Weekly Chart. See you next week!

  1. Steam is the largest digital distribution platform for PC gaming, getting used by around 20 million users at any given time. ↩︎

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