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Love and Hate for Gaming @GIntrospection

Bias in Gaming – Complexity and Toxic Communities – A Small Case Study from League of Legends and Overwatch

Is it just me or is it getting harder and harder to devote time into games that are seemingly more and more complex?

Complexity in many games might not be apparent at first, but some have a surprising depth to them that can make it intimidating to get your hands on, especially after watching people who’ve mastered the game, understand all of the intricacies and nuances of the complexities at play.

League of Legends is the prime example of a game with an astounding amount of depth making it entertaining to watch experts strategize around the depth within the game, but extremely intimidating to pick up and exhausting to keep playing as those strategies evolve, change completely or go extinct like the failed traits of an evolutionary tree because some new apex predator was created leaving a wake or genetic devastation.

Keeping up with the strategies is one troublesome aspect of League of Legends, but what’s worse is being berated by the community for not keeping up with those strategies when you’re trying to be a casual player or a semi-skilled player but one who doesn’t devote more than an hour or so per day to gaming, or by making one bad play causing everyone to criticize you more harshly for the rest of the game. Doesn’t sound like a good time, does it?

Then a game like Overwatch comes along, lightening the load of complexity, less resources to manage, less strategy to manage and making it feel all the more accessible, inviting spectators and players alike much like the early days of League of Legends. A game that’s still new (as of writing this) with a metagame that’s not completely defined yet and a community which doesn’t judge everyone so harshly for one or two bad plays.

Why is it that Overwatch and League of Legends has such differing community behavior, one toxic to all new-comers, casual players and nonprofessionals while the other is currently inviting to the same crowd? Well, that’s probably a bias worth looking into.

Cognitive Load (Complixity of Tasks) and our Behavior

Testing mental performance has been looked into heavily by many fields of the experimental sciences. Psychology, Economics, Biology, Business Management, Advertising and Marketing… Knowing what affects our ability to process information and make better choices based on our surroundings is important so that people can perform their best when working on a task, or perform at their worst when they’re being suckered into buying something that they don’t need and all of the range in-between where we don’t know if we’re making decisions in the best of environments.

What’s important about testing mental performance is how it affects our behavior, or how our setting and the tasks that we’re doing affect our behavior.

Self-Control and Willpower

Around 2007-2008, there were a few studies conducted by Vohs et al around the subject of behavior changes while performing complex tasks. More specifically, how increased cognitive load affects our ability to self-regulate, i.e. affects our willpower/self-control.

The experimenters developed a few tests around being given a few items such as shirts, pens and magazines, where one group was asked to state if they had used the items in the past week (the non-choice group) and the second group was asked which items within the same group that they preferred (the choice group) e.g. Black shirt to white shirt.

Choice and Willpower
Group A – Have you used these in the past week? Group B – Which of these to you prefer

Both groups were then asked to do things that would test their willpower like drinking a concoction of vinegar/water, holding their arm in an icebath or to study for a test in the presence of procrastination-temptations like magazine or video games as doing these tasks would require more willpower to be performed for longer periods of time.

The idea behind this being that if our willpower wasn’t affected by cognitive load than the amount of vinegar/water that we would drink or the amount of time we procrastinated would be similar.

What they found was that even doing a simple decision like picking between articles of clothing and other everyday items caused their reserve of willpower to diminish considerably for each task. 7 oz of vinegar/water was consumed in the no-choice group while 2 oz was consumed in the choice group. 70 seconds in the icebath vs 30 seconds. 8.5 minutes of procrastination vs 11.5 minutes of procrastination.

Willpower-tasks

Across the board, they found that even making a simple set of decisions causes our ability for self-control and willpower to diminish drastically. The above are only a subset of the experiments that they ran, but all experiments in the study held that willpower was depleted more quickly after decision making was made. [1]

Trust

A few years ago there were other studies going on involving complexity of tasks, but this time they were looking at its affect on trust.

One study held by Ainsworth et al went like this: After performing or not performing a self-control task, participants learned and played a trust-game. The trust-game involved a Sender and Receiver. The Sender is given $10 to split however they see fit between the sender and receiver.

 

Trust Game1
Sender chooses how to split their $10

The Receiver will receive triple the amount given.

Trust Game2
Receiver receives 3-times the amount of the money that the Sender has split
Trust Game3
Receiver chooses how to split their money

And the Receiver can now choose to split this portion however they see fit.

 

Trust Game4
Receiver sends back some portion of their earnings, in gratitude from the Senders trust in Receiver (or some other reasoning behind this)

Trust Game5

The implications of the different behaviors of the sender are as follow:

If you (as the Sender) don’t trust the Receiver, then you probably wouldn’t want to give him much of the money (if at all), so you opt to keep the majority of the $10.

Trust Game1
Sender doesn’t trust that the receiver will send any money back (lack of trust in reciprocity), so opts to keep their $10

The more you trust the Receiver then the more you would be willing to give your initial portion, trusting that they will give you back as close to even an amount of the final amount of money as possible.

Trust Game5
Trust of reciprocity was established and now everyone is financially better

If you trust them completely, then you would give them all of the $10 that you had, and trust that they would divide the final $30 equally so that you both receive the maximum amount of income.

TrustGame6

What the game showed was that Senders who performed the self-control task was less trusting of the Receiver, opting to send them less money believing that the Receiver wouldn’t send much (if any) back, compared to Senders who didn’t perform the self-control task.

TrustGame-Self-Control

But there were other versions of the experiment that changed this behavior.

If the Sender believed that they would meet the Receiver after the experiment was completed, then they sent money similarly to Senders that did not perform the self-control task.

They also found that if Senders believe that Receivers were similar to one-another like they were from the same school, same class, same fraternity (e.g. in-group bias) that they sent money similarly to Senders that didn’t perform the self-control task.

TrustGame-Similar

In general, that means that we are less trusting of others when our mental faculties are stressed if the interaction context is anonymous, but less so when the potential of meeting these people are raised.[2]

Persistent Behavior

This last bit doesn’t have much to do with complexity of tasks, but more that our past actions dictate our present behavior. What this means is that regardless of why we did something in the past, we typically will follow doing the same thing again.

In 2008, Ariely and Norton did a study testing this out.

People were asked to perform a boring task and were paid to lie about enjoying the task and then asked if they would be willing to do the task again. They found that people who were paid less were willing to perform the task again, with the idea that if people were not paid enough to justify lying about the task, those participants believed that they derived pleasure from the task and so were willing to do it again.

They essentially convinced themselves that because they did the task previously, they must’ve enjoyed it.[3]

Comparing player experience in League of Legends to Overwatch?

What does all of this research mean when looking at games like League of Legends, Overwatch or the multitude of other multiplayer games in the market. I guess that would depend on the differences in the games and their communities.

Complexity

For League of Legends, you could say that the game is complex to play. Maybe complex is an understatement when compared to Overwatch or an overstatement when compared to Starcraft, but League of Legends definitely has a lot more aspects to manage and master than Overwatch.

League of Legends has a very extensive meta-game to learn, from differences in lane objectives and priorities to item composition and knowing how to adapt if teams counter your team composition or item build composition to every little bit of management that you can think of. Objectives in game; killing minions to increase your income; tracking the refresh time of skills between your skill, your team’s skills and your enemies’ skills; map awareness to know if the enemy team is up to no good because you saw some of them wander towards you teammates half the map away; team communication to let everyone know where you think the danger zones are. The list is pretty long.

leauge_of_legends_ping

league_of_legends_death_heatmap

Compare this to the complexity of Overwatch which has a relatively less defined meta-game, especially since ranked and tournament play isn’t around yet (though competitive play is being rolled out as I’m writing this) but with vastly less things to track in order to play well.

You only have one real objective at a time with very few things to focus on other than the team and maybe the health spawn locations; no income to manage; and only have one or two pockets of where the fighting is happening which makes it easy to know when you have to have your guard up.

overwatch_anubis
Anubis Overview
overwatch_anubis_killzones
Anubis with annotated deathzones

Match Length

The match length between the two games is also a big factor. With average League of Legends match lengths lasting 40 minutes vs the 10 minute average for Overwatch, it requires a lot more effort and is a bigger commitment to play a game of League of Legends

Current Culture

It is pretty wide-spread knowledge that the League of Legends community toxic to play in. Not knowing the current meta-game, criticizing every move that you make, from decisions on when you walk through the brush to when you use your skills to making one bad play. People look for any excuse possible to blame others for how the match doesn’t go their way.

Compare this to the relatively infantile community of Overwatch where the community is seemingly tranquil by comparison. That’s not to say that this won’t change, but at the moment there is very little hate being spread around the Overwatch community. It’s also wholly less competitive than League of Legends at the moment, partly because of the previously mentioned lack of ranked/tournament play.

Implications of their differences

So what? So what if League of Legends is a more complex game than Overwatch? So what if the match lengths are double or triple the length in League of Legends or that the community is already toxic when compared to Overwatch?

Well… here’s the thing.

Remember back to when we talked about how when dealing with complex tasks, that we have less self-control and less trust when dealing with others in an anonymous setting. The inordinate difference in complexity is a large reason why the community in League of Legends is so toxic. Higher complexity leads to less self-control and less trust, both things that you need in order to not criticize your teammates because you would’ve done something different. Self-control to not belittle others and trust that if you communicated something about how to fix the problem, constructively, that they would try to incorporate it into their gameplay.

The long match times also means a few things. You’ve felt like you wasted time if a match doesn’t go right off the bat, that your time commitment was wasted. More related, that your self-control gets depleted more quickly because of those long match times. And like Vohs et al found out, self-control is a finite resource, so it being depleted means that you’re more likely to become agitated, cranky and snap at others if you’re forced to exercise that self-control.

Lastly, that bit about persistent behavior is a problem because once you follow a behavior pattern in a setting, you’re more likely to follow the same behavior when put in the same setting. In this case, if you contribute to the toxicity of League of Legends, you’re more likely to fallback into contributing to the toxicity of the game unless that behavior is curbed early on.

Remediation

That doesn’t mean that League of Legends is a lost cause, nor has Riot (the game’s developers) taken a blind eye to the degrade in behavior in League of Legends.

To combat complexity and time-commitment issues they added multiple game modes that focus on faster turn-around (decreased play time) and less things to manage in game (less complexity), like the Capture-the-point style of Dominion or the everybody-group-up-and-test-team-synergy-style of the Howling Abyss. Both modes are less mentally taxing and as a result were a welcome break from the more-complex classic style gameplay.

lol_dominion
Dominion
lol_howling_abyss_map
Howling Abyss

Riot also tried to address the toxicity issue of the community, building nudges into game like reminders in the loading screen to be constructive or avoiding verbal abuse means that their team loses 16% less often. Funny that they framed it as a loss vs the possibility of winning increasing, as people hate losses more than gains (see Loss-Aversion Bias). They also put plenty of other tools to try and stop toxic behavior like muting other players, allowing your team to surrender after 20 minutes so that the feeling of wasting time can be avoided and reporting other players for toxic behavior.

lol_study_startup_tips
[4]
The big problem that League of Legends is facing is that its community will always have a view of toxicity, a psychologic myopia (short-sightedness bias) that everyone associates with the game because they’ve had one too many bad experiences dealing with toxic players. There was a stat back in 2014 that 95% of players have never received punishment due to toxic behavior. The problem with this is that, assuming equal probability of meeting all players, you’re likely to have a toxic player ever 2 games that you play (given 10 people per game). That means that we’re taking a gamble of having a 50% gamble in every game that we play of dealing with a player who was toxic enough to be punished. That probability increases if we consider players that aren’t necessarily toxic enough to be reprimanded, but are still deserving of punishment some of the time. That really isn’t a statistic that I would want to consider when devoting some time to a game that I want to enjoy recreationally.

In closing

League of Legends is a game 7 years old. It’s not exactly like its community won’t look for something new after playing a game for such a long time. And while Riot has done a lot to make the game fun for everyone, there’s still a lot of differences that make other games like Overwatch more enticing to pick up.

Both games are fun with a ton of polish, and they would have to be to have so many active players currently, but Overwatch has a lot more psychological persuasion than League of Legends at the moment. Overwatch is less complex in many aspects (while still being complex enough to keep things interesting, making every game feel different) but that complexity means that less cognitive pressure is put on you and your team while you play leading to a less toxic environment.

But that doesn’t mean that Overwatch will always stay like this. Competitive play is being rolled out as of writing this, creating a more rigidly defined metagame dictating how everyone should play which means complexity, pressure and willpower will start being stressed. The need to curb toxic behavior will always be present because, like League of Legends, once toxic behavior starts it’ll be hard to keep it from getting out of control, starting the cycle of toxic behavior and perception of a toxic community to continue, making a fun game to be less enjoyable.

Twitter: @GIntrospection

Other Bias in Gaming Posts

References

[1] – Vohs, K.D. Baumeister, R.F., Schmeichel, B.J., Twenge, J.M., Nelson, N.M. & Tice, D.M. (2008). Making choices impairs subsequent Self-control: A limited-resource account of decision making, self-regulation, and initiative. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 883-898 [link]

[2] – Ainsworth, Baumeister, Vohs, Ariely (2014). Ego depletion decreases trust in economic decision making. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 54, 40-49 [link]

[3] – Ariely, Norton (2008). How actions create – not just reveal – preferences. Trends in Cognitive Science, 12-1, 13-16 [pdf]

[4] – Big Data at Riot Games – Using Hadoop to Understand Player Experience – StampedeCon 2013 [link]

Bias In Gaming: How Our Preferences for Games Change, Assortative Mating and Coping Mechanisms

Bias In Gaming: How Our Preferences for Games Change, Assortative Mating and Coping MechanismsGrowing up is weird.

I remember sitting down in front of the TV, finishing a king-size bag of Doritos; watching Rugrats, Doug and Rocko’s Modern Life from sunup to sundown; occasionally popping open a Sprite; and having a great time being entertained by each episode that I’d probably seen a dozen or so times.
rocko-eat-lose

Fast-forward to today, I’d still have a good time watching those same shows, given both nostalgia and the amount of depth the early iterations of those shows contained, but I’d probably feel like getting up and doing something else after the first few hours. I also feel sick just thinking about finishing that king-size bag of chips and I now hate the taste of Sprite.

rocko-doggy

Even for games, we immerse ourself with one type of game, exploring all variations of the genre until we get sick of all of the tropes in each or find that they don’t feel fresh, new or exciting anymore. This is when you move onto something else.

I guess the point is, our tastes change. They change because we relate to more things, different things. We experience more, so we empathize. We’ve tried different foods, seen different movies, talked to different people from different backgrounds and understand more and more that everyone has had a different set of experiences than us and some of those experiences can help shape how we explore new ventures.

Assortative Mating

None of this is new.

What’s worth exploring, however, is how our tastes change.

I’ve only given a few examples of how our life experiences change how we relate to things differently, but are these the only ways that we learn to like new things?

(Obviously not, or this would be a shitty article to write)

A discussion about taste can’t really start without talking about Assortative Mating.

Assortative Mating, in a nutshell, is the trend that within a species, creatures that convey advantageous traits tend to mate with one another and creatures with less advantageous traits tend to mate with one another. Big birds with vibrant color patterns will mate more often with other birds who offer more evolutionary advantages for their species than birds with less girth, paler color patterns or less physical ability.

A similar trend is found in people, somewhat. More attractive people tend to date more attractive people, and less attractive people tend to date less attractive people.

Nothing new. What is interesting is the why.

Do the less attractive people over-evaluate the person that they are with? And how does this help us in our exploration in how our preferences changes?

There was a study published in 2008 exploring this, focusing on how we evaluate potential partners and what are the things that we look for in our partner. (Lee Et Al, 2008)  [1]

What Lee et al did was use rating data from HotOrNot.com, a site where people anonymously rate the physical appearance of others, and data from a meeting-feature within HotOrNot where users can request a date with others on the site. Where the fun bits come in is finding not just how you rate others, but how others rate you and how this translates in how much value you have in the dating pool. The more people that would want to date you, the more value you have (in market terms)

Unsurprisingly, more attractive people tended to get requests and accept meet ups from more attractive people, and that less attractive people were less picky accepting meet ups from less attractive people. For reference, for every 1-point increase (out of 10 points) in attractiveness, you were 130% more likely to receive a positive meet up response, and for every 1-point decrease in the recipient’s score, they were 25% more likely to say yes to a meet up response (other variables being constant).

 Lee, L.; Lowenstein, G.; Ariely, D.; Hong, J.; Young, J. (2008) “If I’m Not Hot, Are You Hot or Not?” Association for Psychological Science 19 (7): 669-677.
Lee, L.; Lowenstein, G.; Ariely, D.; Hong, J.; Young, J. (2008) “If I’m Not Hot, Are You Hot or Not?” Association for Psychological Science 19 (7): 669-677.

What’s interesting is that when rating the people that you were going to meeting up, the ratings were consistent across people in both the more attractive and less attractive groups. This means that more attractive people and less attractive people rated other people with the same ratings, but that the less attractive people were more willing to date the less attractive person.

It means that we don’t delude ourselves into thinking that people are more attractive than they actually are just because we would date them.

But I also know that looks aren’t everything.

In a followup study, Lee et al performed a speed-dating experiment in a similar fashion. People would rate other prospects in 1-10 based on attractiveness as well as rate other criteria: sense of humor, intelligence, kindness, extraversion and confidence. After the 4-minute date they would rate each prospect in each category.

The interesting part is that less attractive people had a higher preference to other non-attractive-based criteria like sense of humor, where more attractive people had a preference for attractive-based criteria. They had concluded that less attractive people learned to cope with their poor genetics by learning to appreciate other aspects of a person, while more attractive people never had to learn this coping mechanism so they still rate people predominantly on attractive-based criteria.

What does this all mean?

A way to reframe the last section is this: How do we develop a preference with a lack of choice?

If this is in terms of dating, we’d all want to date someone whose drop-dead gorgeous but we all can’t. Genetic lottery and regional preferences leave that availability out of our hands. So how do we determine what we look for in a partner? Given the unavailability of certain preferences, we expand our preferences to see what traits are more enjoyable in lieu of purely physical appearance.

It’s not just that beggars can’t be choosers, but that beggars learn to be less picky about what they will choose and choose based on other preferences.

For Gaming

Bringing this back to gaming, we can all start our gaming careers with the first genre that gets our rocks off.

If you were a gamer who grew up in the PS1/N64 generation and beyond? Your first handful of games would probably be Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Rainbow Six or Halo. They are all great games, but the problem is that most games during these generations were First-Person Shooters (FPSes), meaning that you’d probably become an FPS aficionado by age 15.

Games-What-I-Like

FPS games, as a whole, aren’t bad. They have a stronger immersion affinity since you lose sight of your avatar, they are a faster pace (especially so for the time), they give a cheap thrill of violence and presence. But during this time, there were plenty of bad FPSes where they all had some gimmick to set themselves apart from one-another leaving a very one-dimensional experience.

Game-To-Try

Thankfully I started gaming in the NES/SNES generation, which meant I was always open to Platformers and RPGs. The NES/SNES era as well as the PS1/N64 era still had a ton of terrible platforming games, similar to the FPSes, so you could still become saturated with bad games from any genre. I just think that people that who grew up between these shifting-generations were more exposed to other genres than those who spent their gaming childhood engrossed in one generation.

But it’s how and when we learn to move past the genres we’ve first gravitated to and find enjoyment in other kinds of games that’s important.

Like the dating scenario, if we have a lot of time and a very heft gaming collection, we can spend back to back hours on the same genre until we’ve skipped a few meals and our organs start failing from lack of food and sleep. We play the same games and games like it because we’re accustomed to them and already know that they are fun and that we find enjoyment from them.

But luckily most of our gaming collections aren’t that vast, and games aren’t that long. We can burn through a game in a few hours and without anything new to try, we are left with the constant dilemna of: “What do I play next?” With nothing new available, it leaves us with a game that’s either something old or something different.

Which-game-looks-better

It’s when our options with one preference becomes thin that we explore other criteria to see if they can give us enjoyment as well.

RPGs filled with end-to-end lore and world building while giving little to no focus on the characters is what did it for me. Characters with little personalities, with little emphasis on how those personalities would clash in non-cliche ways, and the similar tropes permeating the genre made it harder and harder to go back. That doesn’t mean that all modern RPGs are like this, but they seemed to become fewer and further between, or that I finally realized the tricks that many RPGs were pulling. I haven’t decided which is the case, yet.

The same can be said for the general lack of innovation and stagnation in platformers. There are always diamonds in the rough, as well as gems from developers accustomed to the genre, but they became less and less entertaining for a multitude of reasons. Unresponsive controls, poorly designed cameras, boring level design, long retry loops to name a few.

But because of this, it let me explore many other different kinds of games. The downturn of platformers led to an exploration in RPGs and FPSes. The downturn of RPGs and FPSes led me to explore fighting games. The cycle keeps going to this day, though I find that I have less time to engross myself in a genre is nonexistent.

So what exactly is the bias here?

The bias is the Assortative Mating strategies that we use to decide what we like in the moment, and the coping mechanism that we use when what we do like turns sour either because the freshness is no longer there or because we are starved of playing the kinds of games that we like so we learn to explore and appreciate games that don’t fit those categories.

Like all biases, this isn’t a bad one to have. We just need to learn to enjoy what we have, but also be willing to embrace the growing-emptiness that comes from consuming too much of the same thing. This way you might be more willing to try something new and find a whole new genre that you might enjoy, appreciating the differences in that genre and finding a new way of viewing the things that you’ve enjoyed in the past.

Twitter: @GIntrospection

Other Bias in Gaming Posts

References

[1] Lee, L.; Lowenstein, G.; Ariely, D.; Hong, J.; Young, J. (2008) “If I’m Not Hot, Are You Hot or Not?” Association for Psychological Science 19 (7): 669-677.

Bias in Gaming – Coop Fights and the Not-Invented Here

Problem solving can be difficult. You sit there, consuming yourself with a problem, viewing it from as many angles as possible to come up with what you think is a masterful solution, something to be marveled. Sometimes the solution comes quickly and intuitively, but sometimes you sit there for hours trying to make connections from phantom memories that you only partially remember. Even if it were intuitive, it might not be easy to implement. Your solution might mean spending hours doing the a simple task repetitively because your easy to think-up solution requires the most effort, ala the brute force method – minimal thought but maximal energy to complete. With a bit of preplanning, you might’ve been able to think up not so easy solution but requiring far less work to implement.

Whatever solution you come up with, best or not, you try it because it was what you thought was best at the time.

What about if it were you and few others trying to solve the same problem at once? Working collaboratively on a group project for school, or a presentation that goes up in-front of a lot of very important people. If this were Factorio, then you and you group only have a limited amount of space and resources at any given time and many different approaches to making the next great automated machine to generate more Science, collect coal, and protect your area.

factorio

You all probably won’t have the same solution as one-another, but how do you know which solution to use? If this was, say, a math problem then there might be an empirically determined way to distinguish who’s solution works best. Or given the fact that someone’s solution works, then we don’t have to dig deeper to see whose solution works better, as long as they both produce the correct answer. If this were a business design problem, on the other hand, we have a lot of unknowns to worry about. User-retention, market penetration, year-over-year growth, revenue growth, etc… The grayness of whose solution would work best makes it hard to pick which solution to move forward with.

Whose solution do you support the most?

Substitute all that I said about business design and math with gaming and the problem still stands. If you and your friends are trying to come up with a solution to a boss or a dungeon, all solutions sounding equal, whose solution do you try first? Whose plans for what to do with your hard-earned resources and limited space would you focus on? Should we focus on Defenses, Offenses or Infrastructure right now? How do you think you’re group would settle on an idea?

If you’ve ever worked in a group, you know that if someone proposes an idea, they aren’t likely to backdown until they try their solution or until the problem is solved. Whichever comes first. Once you put up a solution, you’ve invested a bit of your ego into the fight and now have a small chip in the fight to prove that your solution works. Your solution may need a few tweaks but the core of your solution works, or so you want to believe.

It’s that overwhelming belief in the ideas that you come up with and its abilities to cloud the consideration of others ideas that we’ll be talking about in this article.

Continue reading “Bias in Gaming – Coop Fights and the Not-Invented Here”

Bias in Gaming: Predetermined Moral Choices, Empathy Gaps, and Victims

Playing a game like inFamous, Bioshock, Dragon Age, Star Wars: The Old Republic, or any game that has a morality system built into the game has been a bit strange for me. They build stories where you get to choose how your character’s life should play out, with dozens of opportunities to piss off the wrong people because they have punchable faces or act like skidmarks on your underwear where regardless of how clean you’ve been they still appear, moments that make you want to change sides because your emotions get in the way causing you to ally with a faction with a sympathetic background or because a character that you’ve grown fond of was killed by one’s hands.

But all of those opportunities are useless. Not because I’m so detached to the struggles that the characters in the story exhibit, nor because the storytelling did a crappy job of getting me attached to the characters within the story so actions against them wouldn’t cause some emotional reaction.

It’s because when the game started, I decided that this playthrough my player would be the Paragon, always choosing the morally “right” thing to do.

By picking a side and sticking to it, my actions are predetermined regardless of how bad the situation got to the characters in the game. No matter what kind of emotional response I would have because my favorite ship was getting tortured, chaos the villain was causing, betrayal that my best-friend would cause.

InFamous_Second_Son_Karmic_Moment_-_Hank

The emotional stress that any of this would cause me normally would be completely disintegrated because I knew that my actions were already predetermined. I would be the Predetermined Paragon for this run of the game.

But why does choosing this even matter? Does the canonical story assume that the player would be a Paragon of goodwill, ethics and morality pulling from an infinite pool of patience and persistence until they succeed? Perhaps.

A question as important: why does it cause such emotional stress in the first place?

More after the break.

Continue reading “Bias in Gaming: Predetermined Moral Choices, Empathy Gaps, and Victims”

Let’s Talk About: Superhot

Having the infinite power to survey and analyze while stuck with the limitations of the human body.

If you ever felt like The Flash needed a handicap, this would be the best one to give him. Given the power of high speed thought and processing, without the powers of high speed movement. How useful is being able to see the Matrix if you can’t manipulate yourself fast enough to dodge bullets.

Superhot is an experiment with these limitations.

The game opens up slowly, in the style of bringing intrigue and curiosity to the picture. A friend recommends you a game to try out, so you do. This is when you start learning your mechanics.

 

superhot - mechanics

When you move, time passes. When you don’t move, time stops.

Continue reading “Let’s Talk About: Superhot”

Whiteboarding It: Episode 1 with Shadi Muklashy and Invisigun Heroes

 

Start

Impressions of Invisigun Heroes

Kickstarter: Invisigun Heroes

Shadi’s Twitter: @shadiradio

My Twitter: @GIntrospection

Impressions: Invisigun Heroes (PAX South 2016-Build)

PAX has always been a place for finding high-grade indie-games worthy of talking about. The games are generally a mix of novel, innovative and fun with some prospect of them being close to completion. This year at PAX South 2016, I was able to wade through the dozens of independent games there and found a new game that has a good mixture of all three.

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Invisigun Heroes is a mix of Bomberman and Hide-and-Seek. Give Bomberman a gun, make it 4-players and make all players invisible and you can immediately understand the game and easily imagine how chaotic things can get.

Start

You’re not invisible all of the time and you aren’t impossible to be spotted at all times. Bump into a tree, people know where you are (kind of).

hit-wall

Walk onto a puddle of water and you leave a ripple behind, people know where you are (more than kind of, deadman).

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But if you try to capitalize on knowing where someone may be, you have to shoot your weapon thus making yourself visible and easy to spot.

shoot-visible

Continue reading “Impressions: Invisigun Heroes (PAX South 2016-Build)”

Event Highlights: AGDQ Best of and Roundup

Awesome Games Done Quick 2016 has wrapped up. The event raised around 1.2 million during the week long charity stream where around 160 games and 200 players donated their time and expertise to give the gaming community an entertaining 24/7 display of gripping moments, glitched games and great commentary.

0104-AGDQ

I’ve compiled a list of the what I think were the highlights of the event, based on how entertaining the games were, how impressive the runners were, and how cool some of the spectacles were to watch.

This list is a compilation of the best runs throughout the event, spanning races to co-op, blind-runs to glitch exhibition. Hope you enjoyed the list and to watch other picks from great runs, scroll down the bottom to find my other posts from AGDQ and SGDQ events.

Continue reading “Event Highlights: AGDQ Best of and Roundup”

Event Highlights: AGDQ 2016 – TAS and Hacks

Awesome Games Done Quick 2016 has wrapped up. The event raised around 1.2 million during the week long charity stream where around 160 games and 200 players donated their time and expertise to give the gaming community an entertaining 24/7 display of gripping moments, glitched games and great commentary.

0104-AGDQ

I’ve compiled a list of the what I think were the highlights of the event, based on how entertaining the games were, how impressive the runners were, and how cool some of the spectacles were to watch.

This list, in particular, is for those that find all of the hacks and glitches to whittle down the times through means other than optimized movement. Finding out how to influence the RNG, influence enemy behavior, and that one glitch to give you infinite items.

Continue reading “Event Highlights: AGDQ 2016 – TAS and Hacks”

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