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Bias In Gaming – Sequels and Aligning your Game with a Company – Brands as a Frame for Influence

E3 happened a few months back and PAX West (originally PAX Prime) is about to happen in a few weeks. Game companies showcasing their pet projects for all to see, people to play and experiment with the parts that seem to be working and find the flaws that developers thought would go unnoticed, and the gaming media generating as much buzz around these games as can be mustered since (as we mentioned in the previous post) any advertising is good advertising.

But there is one part that I never really enjoy about these events, which mostly applies to E3, and that’s the publisher-sponsored conferences.

Microsoft E3 2016
Microsoft E3 2016
Sony E3 2016
Sony E3 2016

In essence, these conferences dedicate special time to showcase the exclusive/timed-exclusive games for a particular console or showcase all of the games under the same publisher.

But why is it so important for a game to be tied to a publisher/console so heavily? Wouldn’t you think that being untied to a particular lineup means that you have more accessibility to all consoles? I know that being a console exclusive gets you special broadcasting time, but why does it matter so much for non-first party games to be a part of the Microsoft lineup or the Sony brand?

Funny enough, it has a lot to do with why game studios and movie studios push so heavily for sequels and spinoffs.

Studios know the importance of a brand and its recognition in the consumer’s mind. Brands influence our choices as we gravitate towards things that we’re used to, yet we don’t always actively take their influence into account. We’ll look into why this is the case below the break.

Continue reading “Bias In Gaming – Sequels and Aligning your Game with a Company – Brands as a Frame for Influence”

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Bias in Gaming – Attention, Rank and Choosing which Games to Buy

Imagine this scenario, you’re on Steam perusing the store and you find your way to one of the multitude of game categories – let’s say Action games. So you start looking through the games to see what you might like.

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What do you think you’d click on? There are 600+ pages of Action games, is it likely that you’d click on all of them? Probably not.

But would you have at least clicked on the first few? Do you even know if they’re good? What about the first 10? Maybe. First 20? Less likely.

For me, I’d probably at least look at Batman – Telltale and Abzu, but I’d have hoped that I would’ve noticed Abzu on the second page and not abandoned my browsing already.

I bring this up because making choices is always tricky. You’re are presented with options, some of which are influenced by our immediate wants and some by your distant ones, and you’re asked to pick one of those options. But if you’re told to answer now then you might give a different answer than if you’re given a half hour or a half day to answer. The person asking you the question is giving you pressure, your immediate wants are clouding your judgement and you just might give an answer that you might regret because you’re forced to answer it at this moment.

The reason why I bring this up is because most (if not all) Bias In Gaming posts are about the choices we make and the situations in which we make them, inside and outside of gaming. Those choices are affected by when and how we’re asked and how those choices are presented which influences how and what we’ll choose to do. The context of which we make a choice is typically called a Frame (as in how do we frame our choices) and talking about frames is bringing to light the many ways that those frames influence our choices, intentionally and unintentionally for better or worse.

Frames can be thought of some category that we filter out options. When purchasing something like a TV, we might first Frame our options based on brand like Sony or Samsung, then Frame out options based on TV definition 1080p or 4k, then on Price, then on number of HDMI ports, etc…

But what is it about the Steam store, Playstation Network, Xbox Live Marketplace, etc… that influence how we decide what to look at and what to play? It’s all about availability and rank.

Continue reading “Bias in Gaming – Attention, Rank and Choosing which Games to Buy”

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.

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

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

Let’s Talk About – Chunithm 

chunithm-banner

Chunithm – Site

Songlist

Traveling to Japan is always interesting, in particular Tokyo. The city is always busy from the waking hours till the trains shut down at midnight,, the neon lights and smell of food from a small ten-person restaurant can be sensed from blocks away, and there is always something new to find in the city, whether you’re visiting for a only a week or have lived there your entire life. It’s an intoxicating display and makes it impossible to not go exploring for something new, especially to International eyes.

Akihabara

And in Tokyo you can find a slew of Video Arcades, particularly in Akihabara, and in these arcades you can find a war for floor space between fighting games, the newly established virtual card games, and a new breed of music games fighting for audible space of each floor.

And then I came across this machine.

machine1

Chunithm.

I didn’t think much of it at first. There were a few new music games to try that aren’t really seen in the US. Groove Coaster, REV, and the few other music games that I found in the arcade are rare to see, so I wanted to get my hands on them at least once.

What a silly name, Chunithm.

Continue reading “Let’s Talk About – Chunithm “

Let’s Talk About: When does a game truly die? Or Games that need to inspire.

We’re well within the lifetime of the Eighth generation of consoles. That means seven generations of game consoles have come and gone. Libraries of games within each generation and only a handful of them are ever talked about, reminisced on, and dissected with scrutiny. Thousands of games long forgotten with just as much potential as the game next to it when they sat on the store shelves, but rarely purchased and less likely to be remembered once the next gaming generation has spawned a fresh slate of shelf-space to remember.

But do these games ever really die?

The mortality of a game and its ideas is one thing, but its legacy is something to not be taken likely. Passing on the seeds of what a game has explored to future generations.

Continue reading “Let’s Talk About: When does a game truly die? Or Games that need to inspire.”

Impressions – Just Shapes and Beats – PAX Prime 2015

Just Shapes and Beats

Music games are strange. They’re strange in that there is something about the game that you can sync up with to make the game more predictable, something that’s rhythmic, something on beat. When you play the game well because you’re completely in-sync with the music there’s a strange body-extension sensation that takes over, but only for the time you feel in-time with the music.

That means that music games typically went one of a few ways. You make finding that synchronicity the main point of the game and pushing the limit of that synchronicity by pushing your dexterity and stamina, ala Rock Band. Maybe you make the music a byproduct of the player’s actions so those actions create new music on every playthrough, e.g. Sound Shapes or Everyday Shooter. Maybe you have the music be the cue for onscreen action and movement, e.g. Donkey Kong Country Returns and Axiom Verge.

Just Shapes and Beats is probably closest to the last of these, onscreen cues except that cues aren’t the easiest to judge and time.

just-shapes-and-beats-boss-1

Continue reading “Impressions – Just Shapes and Beats – PAX Prime 2015”

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