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Bias in Gaming: Music as a Frame for Changing Behavior

Music is…

Music is a mood enhancer. The soundtrack to your life, to your experiences current and past. Music highlights the drama in your life, the carefree moments with friends, the intensity of a shootout in a movie or game. Music and sound build off of what we already feel and amplifies it when done correctly to saturate our senses in the mood of the moment.

But music and sound are largely background effects, unnoticed when done correctly and disruptive when done poorly. When done poorly, e.g. there is a large disconnect between the music and actions, there is a large contrast between what the scene is telling us to feel and what the music says to feel. This dissonance affects our experience of the scene but does it also influence our behavior in the moment?

Though music is largely experienced in the background, haven’t you ever felt the accidental change in behavior when that music changes? Take a faster stride when the pace of the music picks up? Taking in your surroundings when the a slower more thoughtful song starts? Remembering an emotion or a moment when a somber or sad song gets played, swelling the wave of emotions from the calm that you once had?

music amp gameplay amp deicison

Don’t you find it peculiar that music can change how you’re acting? We’ll explore this and more below the break

Continue reading “Bias in Gaming: Music as a Frame for Changing Behavior”

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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”

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 – 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

Bias in Gaming: Pre-Orders, DLC, Valuation and Pain of Paying 

Big Boss’s Dismembered Arm. Jacob’s Hidden Stabby Knife. Pipboy Wristband for a phone that won’t fit inside. A statue of a dragon that will never see the light of day. Another year goes by and more toys begin collecting dust, trying to match the shade of grey as the collectables next to them. A Street Fighter 4 duffle bag, with matching 4gb USB stick. Travel Chest housing a Nathan Drake Statue. A lie of reselling at mark-up that will never be true. Things that I’ll never use, nor had any intention of using.

Books filled with in-game pre-order bonuses that will never be redeemed. Enough digital bow and arrows to build a small log cabin. A digital black market of goods that will never be offloaded. Ships whose cargo never reaching their destined port.

Why do we fall for preorder bonuses every time when we know they are money sinkholes? Are these toys really that enticing? Do we feel like we’ll be missing out on some grand revelation by not getting the ultimate collector’s definitive edition boxset? (super turbo world champions)

Continue reading “Bias in Gaming: Pre-Orders, DLC, Valuation and Pain of Paying “

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