Monday, March 31, 2008

Quidditch Just Isn't Very Well Thought Out


The rules of quidditch are really stupid, and I'm going to explain why in excruciating detail.

Now I'm guessing that you, the reader, either already know the rules of quidditch, saving me the need to rehash them, or - you're saying "what's a quidditch?", in which case I predict you're really not going to care once you find out. Either way, I don't need to explain the rules. But here they are anyway as a reference.

OK. Imagine soccer. Except somewhere on the grass there's a little chocolate bunny. And when the chocolate bunny is found, the game ends and the finder's team get 15 extra points.

Now, how much effort would you put into scoring goals in this version of soccer? Not too much, huh. Wouldn't proper strategy dictate that the whole thing just turn into a massive bunny hunt? And when a player spotted the bunny, he would call over his "seeker" to grab it, and that would be it?

I mean, why would you even bother with the soccer ball?

This, basically, is Quidditch. Who would give a rat's ass about scoring a goal in this game? The majority of the positions and players in the sport involve scoring goals through floating hoops - but in almost every case, the winner of the game will have nothing to do with how many goals are scored. The goals mean nothing. For the goals to ever make a difference, one team would have to score at least 15 more goals than the other team.

And if one team scores 10 more goals than the other in a soccer-like scoring environment, but loses anyway, then what kind of game is that?

The only game I can think of in real life that has a similar cheap-win mechanism is 9-Ball pool, wherein a player can make 8 consecutive, exquisitely perfect shots, then screw up the last shot and allow the opponent to immediately win the game. But even in 9-Ball, you play best-of-7 or something.

And why the hell are fictional games & sports in sci-fi and fantasy always just 3 dimensional versions of familiar sports? Quidditch is just field hockey with a z-axis. (And a chocolate bunny.) Where's the invention? Where's the fantasy? Is the future of sports really going to be the sports we already know, except we all fly around?


40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Stumbled across your rant in my random web wanderings and thought I'd just point out how you are completely wrong, even though your post is super old and you probably don't care.

1. A Quidditch Game does not have a set time limit, catching the Snitch ends the game it doesn't just give you bonus points.

2. Seeing as a Game can last for several days/weeks or many hours, the chasers have plenty of time to set up a match winning advantage.

3. Scoring with the Quaffle is much, much easier than catching the Snitch. Scoring with the Quaffle is nothing like scoring in Soccer. I assume you have actually read the books and you will see that they actually score quite a lot.

4. If you have one whole team all looking for the Snitch you will almost certainly lose, the other team will just score heaps.

5. Most current sports have evolved over hundreds of years, so yeah it makes sense that in the future we will have the same games but updated to fit in with that era.

Adam LaVey said...

I also stumbled on this post in a random search and here is my take on your article...

J.K. Rowling differenciated the Wizarding world from the Muggle world in terms of logic and creativity. It's evident all through the books. Even in the Philosopher's Stone, Hermoine commented on Snape's trap as being logic based which would thouroghly confuse the average wizard but since she was Muggle born it was simple to her. Quidditch isn't really supposed to make much sense and is more abstract in nature, as is much of the details of magic and the wizarding world in general. Hell, even Voldemort is an idiot and probably wouldn't last long fighting against muggles.

Then again, just about any work of fiction, and even real life, is full of plot holes and goofy abstract behaviour.

Cool article though.

Rowsdower said...

Let me chime back in here. I'm still completely 100% correct. To anonymous: Look, someone on the web has compiled an almanac of every quidditch result ever mentioned in the seven books, along with the scores.

http://www.hp-lexicon.org/essays/essay-quidditch-almanac.html#results

What you can see there is that in every single match except one, the snitch made all the difference and the quaffle goals counted for nothing. Whenever a team wins by less than 300 points, that means the goals were useless to the team that scored them. Absolutely useless. If I beat you 200 to 190, that would mean you were winning 190 to 50 - scoring nearly four times as many goals as me, an absolute whomping, when I got the snitch and locked up the cheap-ass win. If you beat me 290 to zero, that would still mean the goals were worthless, because I could have caught the snitch instead and won: 150 to 140. You'd need to be ahead by more than 150 points to take the snitch out of the equation. And if you did get ahead by that much, why would I catch the snitch even if I saw it? As I said - this game wasn't designed well.

Your argument about scoring heaps just doesn't jive with the actual records. Again, except for just one game, every score in the record book was within a 300-point differential, and therefore decided purely by who caught the snitch first.

I repeat: Quidditch is not well thought out.

Zos said...

Not that i do not agree with the strange nature of quidditch as well as its scoring system, one must take into consideration how fast a snitch moves and how hard it is to actually see. The snitch is so quick that it sometimes takes months for a game to end. The seeker catching the snitch will more often than not be a player with incredible flying skills, superfast reflexes and an insanely acute eyesight. Trying to understand the game as a Muggle is very hard to do. However, imagine the books you have read and the world that has been created, Whoever has the skill, stamina, eyesight, and cool to catch the snitch, in my opinion, DESERVES to win the game. I feel that THAT is the concept.. Its just so hard to do that when you do, you WIN.

Anonymous said...

Rowsdower is 100% right. The game is illogical and stupid, just admit it and don't try to defend it with some "well us muggles can't understand it" crap. If Rowling actually did some research on various sports and their structure I'm sure she could've come up with a better game but she was busy I guess. Just losing the goddamn snitch and having it just be a hockey game in the air would've been a thousand times more better. Oh but I guess that's not good enough for the chosen one HP, he has to have the special (& completley contrived) role.

Anonymous said...

To be completely honest ALL of you are really stupid. The idea of the seeker and the snitch just adds a new level to the game that is more exciting and gives it a time limit. And although yes the game is quite often determined by the catching of the snitch, it is in the entire league where the points count, because in order to win the Quidditch Cup the team has to have the most points rather than the most wins. It even says in one of the books during a Quidditch match that Harry is flying around looking for the snitch, but has to wait a until the chasers have scored enough goals to build up their point total before catching the snitch and winning the Quidditch Cup rather than just the game. So although it may not be intentional, having the snitch does work in favor of the game and the chasers aren't just pointless.

But most of all, it is just a fictional game and you're just looking too far into the details. There is no real point to the argument.

Anonymous said...

You are still wrong, and that "essay" about Quidditch that you linked to was extremely pointless and stupid. Who cares if JK didn't "add up" some scores properly? Anyway, to the list.

1. Hogwarts Quidditch is slow, much, much, much slower paced than Professional Quidditch. When they're at the world cup Harry has to use his special binocular things just to be able to make the players out. Therefore Chasers score much more often in Professional matches than at Hogwarts.

2. Harry is supposed to be an "amazingly talented seeker", so he always catches the snitch fairly quickly. This obviously isn't a "normal" thing in Quidditch.

3. I also wouldn't be surprised if the snitch's they use at Hogwarts are slower than Professional ones. Obviously School games can't go on for more than a day because they have lessons and crap.

4. The amount of Points Chasers score count towards the rankings ladder. Just like in lots of other sports. Usually called "Goal difference" or "Percentage".

So if you are losing by more than 150, there is still a point in catching the snitch. Also it's less embarassing to lose by 10 points than it is to let the game drag on and lose by 500 points. Fans wouldn't be too happy about that.

5. JK could hardly string out the Quidditch matches for very long, it would get extremely boring reading about it. They say many times that Quidditch games often last for more than several hours, sometimes days or weeks. But she is hardly going to write about those.

Despite you being just generally wrong, there is one very stupid rule in Quidditch.

1. Substitutes are not allowed. This I find really, really stupid as it dissproportionately favours fouling. Quidditch is supposed to be a "brutal" and "highly dangerous" game, seems very stupid that you can't bring on subs.

Michael said...

Rowsdower got it right. The mechanic of the game is illogical. Defending Rowling by saying she's talking about a "magical" world and so it isn't supposed to make sense, or that the game is so super fast that it is competitive is just ignoring the issue.

The whole point of having a "Seeker" position is to give Harry a talent of his own. Up until he is chosen as Seeker everything "special" about him is due to circumstance or someone else. It's either his parentage or Voldemort's failed attack that has made him special. Being talented on a broom gives him that inner talent that all the young fantasy escapists need to be able to justify their-- I mean Harry's being special.

Rowling couldn't make Harry an athletic god. He couldn't be faster, able to score goal after goal, or even a keeper able to fend off every attack. That would make him a sports star and all the disenfranchised youth Rowling originally was writing this for would then no longer be able to really identify themselves with him.

This special position of Seeker allowed her to make Harry into a hero on the pitch without making him a jock. He could single-handedly win the game yet not dominate the field.

But her implementation of the rules created the problem that this blog identifies. Introducing the snitch into Quidditch ruins the rules of the game.

It would have been simple for Rowling to come up with a better implementation. Instead of a single snitch, make 3 snitches worth 50 points each. Or 5 snitches each worth 30. The seeker who caught the majority of snitches would then give their team a powerful lead.

Of course, if one player caught all 5 snitches they would still determine the match just as if it were one, but 4-1 or 3-2 would be more likely and leave the rest of the quaffle scoring players relevant.

Secondly, having a predetermined timed ending to the game if the (last) snitch is not caught would work without preventing Harry from still being the hero if he catches it quickly. Imagine if not catching a snitch before time runs out was fairly common, but Harry is good enough to actually catch it. He'd be even more special and valuable.

Despite whatever protestations you might want to make, Rowsdower is right on the money. Rowling invented the most popular fictional nonsense game ever.

Kula said...

Hi, I agree with the original rant that the rules of Quidditch don't make sense. The way I see it, the socring by chasers is just window dressing to the seeker's role; the chasers/beaters/keepers allow the crowd to "get into" the game by providing entertainment, nothing more. Whereas the true game is the seeking of the snitch.

I would have changed it so that unless a team scores a certain number of goals (let's say about 5 or so) the snitch would be invisible to the seekers. This makes the scores important for the seeker to be found. If one team scores enough points, then their seeker (and only the seeker) would then be able to see the snitch. Then the rest of that team's goal becomes stopping the other team from scoring while still trying to increase their lead for the rankings (or just to ensure their win). Once both teams gain the ability to see the seeker, then both teams now must still try to take the game out of reach for the opposing team.

Haivng the snitch be magically hidden until a set number of goals are scored ties the snitch to the actions of the rest of the team and helps explain why they care at all about scoring.

Of course, this also means that the snitch should be much harder to catch than shown in the films. It's not just a matter of a small, fast object to catch - the snitch should be almost impossible to catch and only by shear luck does on catch it at all. This way, if a team has a head start on finding it, the odds are agianst their seeker catching the snitch before the other team is able to catch up in points. Just my two cents worth.

Anonymous said...

Came across your post looking for exactly that. Worst. Sport. Ever.

Anonymous said...

Bless you sir. I have thought this ever since I read the first book. The rules just don't make sense at all, no matter how many contortions one goes through (Anon #1 there is a perfect example) to try to get it to work. For it to even resemble a real sport, you have to invent all kinds of scenarios that the matches in the books don't bear out as being at all normal.

Anonymous said...

I never really thought about it before but, reading this post, and the defenses of Quidditch, it's pretty obvious that Rowling didn't care about the sport, she conceived of it in terms of what it would mean for Harry. So she created a situation where he could rise up and be this great seeker. Then, when the books became hugely popular, and kids loved Quidditch, she realized she had to write it into every book and had written herself into a corner, but just kept on with it.

thepapers said...

There are a lot of things in the HP books that are not well thought out. One that comes to mind is the movie/book where one of the teachers is a werewolf. It's this big mystery of who could possibly be the werewolf. Meanwhile there is a new teacher in school who's last name means wolf in latin. Gee.. I wonder who could be the werewolf? JK's writing sucks.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of the criticism of the logics of Quidditch above. Quidditch, in its fictionality, would be a 'reasonable' sport, if one or the other tiny change of rules was applied:
- Have it last a predetermined time, say 60-120 minutes, like any real sport. Then, if the snitch is really difficult to catch, it only every now and then is caught, making it more exciting.
- additionally, reduce the value of the snitch to, say, 50 points, but have it re-released after being caught during the course of a game.
- Catching the snitch as the only way to end the match is just stupid - unless, games are only done in league-mode where finally the highest point difference determines the winner.

Anonymous said...

OP is an idiot. Quaffles do make a difference. Snitch catchings don't always guarantee a win. Hurp-fucking-durp. Anon#1 & Adam are correct. Rowsdower, quit trolling.

Anonymous said...

Just came across this while googling the rules. I thought, clearly I misunderstand because the game can't be that silly. But apparently it is! Haha, thanks for the laugh!

Anonymous said...

I like Harry Potter, but you're right, Quidditch is an awful sport. Having the snitch win no points, but it still ending the game would be better and have the same result. The seeker would be a much more tactical role as they would have to wait until their team has more points before they catch it.

Dupont Hotspur said...

I disagree with some of the comments on here now that I am aware that the total points scored at the end of the season determines the champion. Assuming that each decent side has a capable seeker, it may very well be the case that a fair amount of luck determines who ultimate catches the snitch and thereby scores the 150 points, etc...so it may be wise or even crucial to have a very talennted side score the 10 pointers which requires team work, strategy, etc. and could be more reliant on ability and tactics than the unpredictability of catching the snitch. As the points are cumulative, a championship side would like always have minimized their losses through superior goal scoring when they fail to catch the snitch and build on their lead signficantly when they do catch it. And as already has been pointed out, these games can take quite a long time and scoring goals is fairly simple so one could easily build a far greater lead than 150 if clearly superior in the other facets of the game. In fact, a team winning may choose not to catch the snitch while it continues to increase the lead if they feel it's worth the risk. And a losing team that is behind by more than 150 points may have every incentive to limit their margin of loss by catching the snith and finishing that match with fewer points if the margin they are losing will likely increase if the points are cumulative since there's no guarantee they will snag the snitch at some point later and that's a big chunch of points to a team that is falling further and further behind. That's a long way of saying...makes sense to me.

What doesn't make sense is the scoring calcualtor used by the official scorer has a "ones" key as well as a "tens and "hundreds" key I think...but there is not scoring that I know of where the one's place in the score would be anyting other than a zero...or do I remember this wrong?

Anonymous said...

Your comments about all the games and scores mentioned in the books are valid and as you point out are all but one, won by the snitch being caught, making the goals useless.
But in terms of the 'world' of Harry Potter, all those games are essentially college games that go for a short time. As some other users point out, a lot of games in the professional league (which in relation to our world would be the games everyone knows of because who really pays attention to amateur college games) can run for weeks or months meaning that the scores could be much, much higher than 150 or 200 and since catching the snitch ends the game immediately, the goals would be a huge part of who wins.
And I like your point about if the other team was so far ahead and you saw the snitch, as a seeker you just wouldn't catch it, but remember you are up against another alert seeker who if he catches it while you are purposefully avoiding it, then you look like quite the fool who lost the game and screwed your whole team.

All are valid points but that is just my opinion :)

Kelvin james said...

Quidditch world cup:

Bulgaria or whatever catches the snitch

Ireland wins anyway

argument - over

buggy said...

I like one of the posters ideas about the invisible snitch and I have tweaked it a bit to what I think should be much better rules of quidditch:


The snitch is worth 0 points but finding the snitch *wins* the game outright. The snitch originally starts out the usual size. Based on the score differential, the snitch becomes marginally bigger and bigger (or more and more visible) to the higher scoring team's seeker and less visible to the other team's seeker (This is one thing we can't do in muggle land but with magic, we can control how much of something someone sees). This gives the higher scoring team a considerable advantage to finding it and therefore winning the game.

Now, Harry Potter still has his ability to shine. Imagine if he could keep catching the snitch even when their team was down by lots? He'd shine even MORE!

Games now will be a lot more exciting, especially the long games. If one team tires and can't shoot goals? The other team will capitalise, scoring highly, brightening the snitch for them and let their seeker finish them off. So it will be non-stop action the whole way! See, how much better would it be if Rowling stopped to think about her game for longer than 0 minutes. Quidditch ruined Harry Potter for me.

Anonymous said...

Thank god someone else thinks this-I thought I was just a nerd. This is all so true. Die hard harry potter fans can try and deny it and make up excuses like 'all the points are added together at the end so the goals do make a difference' But at the end of the day if your team has got a good seeker who catches the snitch before any goals are even scored then your team is definitely going to win. I mean seriously the other players are pointless and this really bugged me for some reason while watching the first potter film- haha. The position of seeker only exists because J.K rowling wanted to create a player for harry to be that the whole game basically revolved around.

jed said...

Unlike the other potter fans here i found the accumulated points total even more idiotic... For example lets say for arguements sake the scores in the school competition were

Griffindor 150-0 Slytherin
Hufflepuff 250-220 Ravenclaw
Hufflepuff 210-300 Slytherin
Griffindor 150-0 Ravenclaw
Slytherin 180-250 Ravenclaw
Griffindor 150-0 Hufflepuff

lets say through Harry's Brilliance he managed to catch the snitch within 5 min of all 3 games (like in the first book v Hufflepuff)

The table would read:

1st Slytherin 1 win 480 points
2nd Ravenclaw 1 win 470 points
3rd Hufflepuff 1 win 460 points
4th Griffindor 3 wins 450 points

That seems dumb as anything to me

Anonymous said...

this is all she needed to do. snitch ends the game thats it. no points. when your team is leading you have to catch it. if u catch it with the lead its over. the other seeker trys to stop him.

Michael Every said...

If the Quidditch Cup is decided by total points aggregate for the year then it would be a disadvantage to have a good seeker, as it would mean shorter games and less points scored.

Anonymous said...

Man, you can ALWAYS spot the FANBOYS on any forum for any topic by the way they jump in and call the OP an IDIOT despite all the LOGIC in the world on the OP's side. People need to get over their LOVE for the fiction and look logically at what's being said. Quidditch IS ridiculous. A time limit to end the game with a more limited bonus score makes 100x more sense for a reasonable game (a time limit alone would make it at least workable since you wouldn't always catch it).

But in general, JK created a fun magical fictional world, but obviously isn't much of a tactician. How many times do the characters just STAND THERE while creature/person "X" attacks them or they just 'run' like a muggle? Other times, they blast away dozens of creatures into stunned states like it's nothing, but yet just turn their head and prepare to be clobbered/eaten for pure effect? Geeze, if a dragon is attacking you and you're going to die if you do nothing, you could use the killing curse and save your butt EVERY SINGLE TIME. Oh, but it's 'illegal' and so you're supposed to just die? They could stun/levitate/teleport/etc/etc in almost ANY given attack scenario, but they RUN or duck instead. Sorry, but if this was a real magical world, they would react like karate students and have a defense/attack for any given scenario. The only things that could hurt them would be other wizards battling with them. But that wouldn't make monsters scary anymore.

And don't say it's just the kids. Ron's dad just stood there while a snake bit him over and over and over again. He's an adult and fully trained wizard for the Order of the Phoenix and Voldemort's pet snake just whooped his butt like nothing. Give me a freaking break. The point is that JK isn't about "believable" or "realistic". She's about story-telling and emotional involvement with the characters. You HAVE to "suspend disbelief" or the books/movies will drive you nuts!

Kate said...

Thanks, OP. It's nice to hear my Harry Potter pet peeve discussed. Such an oddly thoughtless game conception on Rowling's part.

Manuel said...

I still can find anyone that can give a reason why Quidditch is not bullshit, only justifications.

Rowling is not a good writer, she lacks of resources, that's why the books have many stupid things with stupid reasons, because she couldn't come up with better ideas.

The fact that HP is so successful and she become rich is out of the discussion

lanz hernandez said...

this is why the team must score!

example
TEAM A : 160 points
team B : 0 POINTS

then team B finds the snitch
but its only 150 points
so the game ends but team B still lose because the other team have higher points

PS: I'm ONLY 11 years old and you d-mb-ss is older than me and you still don't understand the game, don't understand the rules, don't understand the book and DON'T UNDERSTAND OTHER PEOPLE'S WORK!!!
SO ---- YOU i LOVE HARRY POTTER AND QUIDITCH

Viperpaw said...

In the quidditch world cup Ireland won even though Bulgaria got the snitch, it may be uncommon, but if you had a horrible seeker, but beast chasers, then you might be able to pull it off as your last shot.

ME said...

Wow. A lot of argument about a FAKE SPORT that exists in a FAKE WORLD.
My advice: everyone just calm down because this sport DOESN'T EVEN EXIST.

Anonymous said...

Why would team even catch the snitch if they were so far behind that they'd lose anyway? Wouldn't you intentionally avoid catching it while hoping your team would close the gap enough that you could win by catching it?

Anonymous said...

OK, I know that finding a snitch is much more difficult tran scoring quaffle, BUT 150 points for snitch and 10 points for quaffle??? Come on... that really doesn't make sense. it would be more appropriate if the snitch gave you 30 points, p.e.

Anonymous said...

What if they both have terrible seekers, choose not to catch the snitch or combination of both? They'd just play forever, run up the score and win the championship this way.

Anonymous said...

The idea of the final standings in the league determined by overall points instead of wins is also totally idiotic.

Think about for examble the matches in last round of the league. Why would any team try to catch the Snitch? Every team would just keep the game going for years to get more points.

Even the team in the lead would be taking a HUGE risk by cathing the snitch in the last game, as all the other teams would just keep playing their final games until the end of time.

The whole game with it's rules, league and game descriptions is too stupid to bear.

Anonymous said...

Quidditch is flawed. And you could spin it anyway you want. What is the point? It could be 300-0 and as long as the snitch is caught the team could technically win 150-300. It should be the first team to 150 OR catch the snitch (since it is worth 150 points) then there would be a reason for playing the other parts

Anonymous said...

No no. You can still catch the snitch and lose. The snitch just ends the game. The team with the higher amount of points wins.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with the fact that sometimes it doesn't make sense, you do have to remember that it IS a made-up sport. If you hate Quidditch that much, why write a whole essay on it? Just ignore it, dude!

jedipotter said...

What do chocolate rabbits have to do with a MADE UP SPORT?

Anonymous said...

So many butthurt potterheads trying to defend quidditch lol. There was only one match in the books that there was enough points for anything but the snitch to matter and, even if there were enough points more regularly it would still be stupid. Say your team is down 200 points and you see the snitch. All you can do is hope your team gets back to 150 under or less to catch it and the winning team will have that entire time to be able to catch it unintended. I loved the books and enjoyed the movies but, let's just admit jk Rowling jus isn't much of a baller.