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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 – How Brand Trust is Built – Blizzard and Steam, yes. PoGo, no.

PoGo PoGo PoGo

The summer of Pokemon Go is almost completed and it still seems like many are still at it. Walk by a public park and you’ll still find people at all hours of the day with their head down at their phone flicking towards the top of the screen.

abra

Everybody who tried playing during the first few days knows how poorly made the game is, how clunky the UI and controls are, how fickle the servers can be, but we all still kept at it. Whenever Niantic announced that they were releasing the game to the next wave of countries, the community prepared itself for the outages that would ensue as Niantic worked to scale their for traffic and replicated databases to support the millions of new users.

Game launches rarely ever go well unless you’re used to them not going well and plan for contingencies accordingly, like Blizzard and the release of Overwatch which was only troublesome to login and had spotty connectivity issues for the first day or so. Even on Blizzard’s worst launch days, e.g. most World of Warcraft expansion releases, Diablo 3 etc…, they might get a couple bruises in the gaming press but the gaming community as a whole still views Blizzard as one of the best in the business when it comes to polish in a game and longevity in a multiplayer experience.

But why could a game like Pokemon Go get away with feeling like an alpha/beta public test? Forgoing obvious arguments of nostalgia and novelty, why could Pokemon Go gain this much traction for what was ultimately a broken game? How can we trust Niantic and Pokemon Go as a brand and how does a company like Valve and Blizzard keep their high pedigree of brand trust? We’ll talk about that below the break.

Continue reading “Bias In Gaming – How Brand Trust is Built – Blizzard and Steam, yes. PoGo, no.”

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”

Roundup – Things you missed at PAX Prime 2015

Some stuff that I wrote about already:

FFXIV, Ravana with newcomers and MMO Onboarding

Impressions on: Ultimate Chicken Horse

Impressions on: Just Shapes and Beats

Plenty of great panels and concerts, many of which you can find on the PAX Twitch channel here

 

Notably Panels

Dragon Age: Past, Present and Future Panel

Storytime with Kim Swift

Inside Gearbox Software

 

All of the concerts are fun in their own right.

Saturday Night Concerts:

7 BIT Hero

Freezepop

MC Frontalot

Sunday Night Concerts:

The Returners

Bit Brigade

The Protomen

The Protomen P2

 

If anything else worth watching is available for post-PAX viewing, I’ll try to remember and post it here.

Twitter: @GIntrospection

Blaugust Day 31

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”

Impressions: Ultimate Chicken Horse – PAX Prime 2015

Ultimate Chicken Horse

Original Kickstarter

There’s a lot of ways to ruin friendships when playing a game. Games like Mario Party and Nintendoland have you building temporary alliances and never-forgotten rivalries from past betrayals. Others like Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros relying solely on yourself for victory with the randomness of items to keep things interesting and forcing you to be globally aware but you still feel the anguist when victory is snatched from your grasps by a well-timed red-shell or a lucky pokeball grab.

It’s weird to find a party game that doesn’t have you building a hatred for the people that you’re with over time, but Ultimate Chicken Horse was definitely on its way there.

ultimate-chicken-horse

Continue reading “Impressions: Ultimate Chicken Horse – PAX Prime 2015”

Game Experiences: PAX Prime 2015 Day 1: Freshman’s on FFXIV

It’s a bit strange to have new players come into a game and expect them to be good, don’t you think? 

Let’s step back a bit. Remember when in World of Warcraft, that you can get a free level-90 character or some odd nonsense that there was an uproar? It wasn’t just nerds being elitist assholes, because yes they are but yes they are also right to be upset.

You start a game with a new class and you start with the building blocks for that new class. For tanks, it’s about building agro to make sure that enemies don’t beat on the other people in your party, then work your way up to using damage mitigation moves and finally enemy movement. Damage Dealers deal with learning a rotation and finding out the best order of what skill produce the highest damage output, starting with only a few moves in your skillset and slowly finding a place for each new move that you learn… Healers just learn to heal and cleanse at the right times while dealing with “don’t stand in the bad stuff” mechanics.

But the reason why people were upset about the free level-90 was because you now have new players come in and have all of these moves and no training in how to use them. There are no fundamental building blocks to build on-top of, just a clutter of skills and an intense memorization that needs to happen in just remembering what skills are useful for what situation. You typical “oh-shit I’m about to die” buttons aren’t second-nature and you’re hunting and pecking to find the next move that should be useful instead of being used to a particular combination that gets the job done effectively.

This matters because the Final Fantasy XIV Convention Events have and always will have this problem. PAX Prime 2015 was no different, having a group of 8 random people tackling Ravana Hardmode. Easy enough for people who are into the game, but not everyone plays the game outside of the convention, and not everyone knows the mechanics to survive.

PAX Prime 2015 FFXIV Wideshot

Continue reading “Game Experiences: PAX Prime 2015 Day 1: Freshman’s on FFXIV”

YouTube Words: Game Grumps – Jon Tron vs Danny Sexbang Word Profiles (Bonus Post)

Remember what I said about someone’s Word Profile? About how it’s like a fingerprint of you past because we learn to gravitate our lexicon to certain words over others, event more so depending on the context of your situation?

In my last iteration of the Word Profile comparisons, we looked Markiplier’s Channel vs the Game Grump channel in hopes of both finding how their Word Profile’s differ, but also to gain some insight in how to find the differences in commentary style during a Let’s Play.

We found possibilities like categorizing Solo vs Co-op let’s plays based on someone’s Word Profile alone, possible improve training from “yes-and”-ing everything your friends are saying, and even just finding out the baseline aggressive language that the two channels have.

For this post at the least, I wanted to look at the inner history of the Game Grumps, since Arin and Dan weren’t always the hosts. It was Jon Tron that took up the co-host seat with Arin and I thought it would be interesting to see what the differences between the two would be, if there were any to be found.

Figure 1 - Game Grumps - JT vs DS - All
Figure 1 – Game Grumps – JT vs DS – All

Continue reading “YouTube Words: Game Grumps – Jon Tron vs Danny Sexbang Word Profiles (Bonus Post)”

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