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READER QUESTION: Why do Norwegians rate things out of six? 

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
READER QUESTION: Why do Norwegians rate things out of six? 
Why do Norwegians use dice to rate films, TV shows or books? Pictured are dice.Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

If you see a film, restaurant or album given a six in Norway, it's been met with the highest possible accolades rather than middling reviews. So, where does this unique ranking system come from? 

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Question: Why do Norwegians use a dice roll to rate things? 

This is an excellent question that even those who have lived in Norway will often ask themselves. 

Many have been left scratching their heads after hearing someone wax lyrical about something, only for them to say it deserves a score of six. 

For many foreigners, it may not make sense that films like Verdens verste menneske (The worst person in the world) received a score of six, despite being such a critical darling worldwide. 

Six for many represents a respectable score, but it's the highest accolade possible for films and the like in Norway.

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Also, grades in Norway are ranked from one to six, with the highest-grade students can aim to achieve being a six, showing just how strongly the number six is associated with excellent achievements. However, the origins of the two systems appear to be unrelated to one another. 

How does the system work

The reason why six is the highest score awarded for media, restaurants and cultural performances is that Norway uses the teringkast or dice roll system to rate things. 

When using dice, six is the highest number you can roll. Many film posters, book covers, and product advertisements proudly display their favourable "dice scores". The score is usually displayed as red dice with white pips representing the product's score out of six. 

Therefore, it is more common to hear things ranked out of six rather than five or ten, as there are no commonly used dice with this many sides. Some publications will award scores of one or seven to heap heavy praise or criticism on something. 

Furthermore, as much as parts of Norway's wilderness can feel like a fantasy world, Dungeons and Dragons has yet to hit the mainstream in a way that means a D20 is adopted as the new universal scoring system. 

And (don't let any Norwegians hear this), when scores are displayed on products on a dice, see the example for Verdens verste mennesk below, the system kind of makes sense. 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Verdens Verste Menneske (@verdensverstemenneske)

Where does the system come from? 

The system is over 70 years old, first appearing on March 31st 1952, in an issue of Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang (VG). 

Film critic Arne Skouen introduced the format as he wanted to summarise a film's quality in a short and concise manner. To do this, he devised a system of displaying the film's score on dice so readers could easily see whether the movie would be worth their time. 

While this system is certainly easy to digest for readers, it is perhaps strange that it has caught on, given Norway's conservative attitudes to gambling. 

These days, the system has been adopted by most online publications and newspapers for reviews. 

Such is the popularity of this system, it has even been extended to rank the performance of political leaders during debates.

Dice rolls for scores are especially Norwegian, rather than a quirk unique to Scandinavia. The system is rarely, if at all, found in neighbours Sweden and Denmark. 

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