Love and Hate for Gaming @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)

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Bias in Gaming: Defaults and False Choice. 

Legend of Zelda has always had some interesting design choices; from its gameplay, to its level design, to its enemy creation and how it chose to inform the player of how to progress. Oversimplifying its weapons to make sure that they are intuitive to use and easily instinctual in recognizing when to use it. Enemies with only a single mechanic to perform makes them easy to deduce means of dispatching them; and the difficulty comes when mixing placement with variety with terrain forcing you to take into account more variables and manage more moving parts. It shows that they put at least some attention to how they create the experience in their games.

That doesn’t mean that the Legend of Zelda is a perfect fleet and even its best ships have a few holes in them. The one that comes up time and time again is how they handle dialog.

Paragraphs of dialogue being spit at you. Line after line, given 10 words at a time. You sit there hitting the “next” button for minutes at-a-time. At the end of it you’re asked “Did you get all that?”


And the default placement of the cursor is on the “No.”

You hit “next” and you scream and storm away from the TV, incredulous to wasting your time for twice the length.

A game actively keeping you away from the action by forcing you, the player, to slow down and pay attention. Why would the cursor be set to “No”?

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Cultural Context and Impact on Perception

The ending to Braid has always been a surprise when new players pick it up. The story is obstuse, given in disjoint bursts so there is already varying amounts confusion to the understanding of what’s going on in the game already. Some sort of story about being obsessed and about the longing for someone, the sleepless nights and the wasted time. Then you go through the puzzles about controlling and manipulating time to find yourself at the game’s ending.

Your obsession leads you to finding a princess, whom the player may automatically assume (as one typically does) that they’re their savior, helping her try to escape from the knight once clutching her. You help her by clearing a path of escape, using the pulleys and switches to move  obstructions hindering her path of escape. Then you’re forced to hit the rewind.

You watch your actions play out with a different narrative. You’re actually the one in pursuit of the princess, trying to hinder her escape by blocking her path, chasing her away with your obsessiveness into the arms of another.

The moral lesson was the dangers of obsession and control, but the storytelling lesson is one of context. The learned context from many years of gaming, that you always assume that you’re the hero of the story and that princess always needs saving by you alone. The shallow context given to you in the story that doesn’t explicitly tell you that you are the hero of the story but it does little in dissuading you from this belief. You come into Braid, like many games, with these preconceptions and the story plays on them, making the reveal even more impactful.

What’s worth exploring is how much context the player brings with them into a game, and how that changes the impact of the game for the player.

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Hipsterism, Progress, and Gaming

“Those Filthy Hippies”

The Hipster movement is nothing new, but the name certainly does change among generations. Beatnik, Hippy, Punk. Having a culture that actively pushes against the mainstream is important to have, not because having a contentious disdain for the status quo is generally a healthy lifestyle, but because it leads to new styles of art being actively developed in protest of the status quo.

The general counterculture cycle is this: something becomes mainstream -> counterculture goes against the mainstream -> new art style develops -> art style becomes popularized -> style becomes mainstream.

Most new art styles are evolutions of but also direct responses to the previous art styles. The more that the mainstream leans towards something, the more there is a pull in the opposite direction from this counterculture.

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Player’s Agency and Lack of it for Suspense Games

After watching a few streamers play through Five Nights at Freddy’s it reminded me that the player’s agency, their ability to control their actions to elicit outcomes, is extremely important to create a consonance (harmony) between the player and the game. And it is when that agency is reduced or limited is when cognitive dissonance sets in. You’re playing a game and you aren’t jiving with it. The actions that you want to do and the reactions that you’re getting on screen aren’t connecting. In psychological terms, you have multiple mental beliefs that are conflicting with one another causing discomfort – cognitive dissonance. The actions that you want to do and the actions that you’re allowed to do are in conflict, causing the anxiety and discomfort. But in a game like Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNAF) or any other suspense game designed to instill paranoia and anxiety, it’s the lack of agency that helps to inspire these emotions.

We can always look back on games the past games like Resident Evil where Jill Valentine moved like a Old 70s Buick, or Panzer Artillery Tank, which actually worked as a benefit to the game. The lack of mobility took away any agility that we could have had and made even the slightest danger – zombie, hound, Lisa Trevor – much more tension-rising than normal because we knew maneuvering pass them was a chore and a half.

Maybe Jill can finally be the "Master of Lockpicking"
This isn’t entirely accurate. The character in the image can probably control better than Jill.

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On Creativity and Change

What is irritating is when you try to start something, but because demotivation has set into other aspects of your work, it creeps into work that you care more about. The creative energy comes from being productive all around, but by not putting full effort into one creative production it takes away from all creative productions. Maybe it’s a part of the self that worries I’m shirking responsibility causing myself to not write with a clear mind and further blocking the creativity to flow, or that I don’t deserve to be personally creative when I’m not being professionally creative. It’s not about being Creatively Stagnant or Creatively Irresponsible, but I feel that I’m being Creatively Demotivated. Bouncing around from idea to idea, but having little motivation to expound and fulfill each idea.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Whenever being creative comes up, I’m always brought back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I’m brought back to this more and more often because finding happiness from creativity and purpose comes as a very in-essential need of the human life. When I listen to podcasts like the Joe Rogan Experience where the topic of Subsistence shows come up often, or “Happy People” from Werner Herzog where people live essentially with the tools and expertise of the 1800s, they emphasis that the people living in these communities that focus more on their physical needs than their psychological ones are living much happier lives than those in a more civilized, modernized community. I’m not going to say that I’m the first one to bring the two together, but I guess it’s a sign of how good our lives are. I have everything needed to live a physically stress free life. I have food, water, warmth. I’m healthy and have employment. Many of the base needs are already met, so we search higher on the pyramid to find things that are more fulfilling.

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Attachment Issues

It’s a little but funny, but then again, no.

How we attach ourselves to characters in a television show.

I don’t have much to say, but if I did

I’d write a blog about it, where it would live.

                One thing that I love is getting wrapped up in a story. Getting wrapped up in the lives of characters who have lives outside of the story taking place. Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Doctor Who. It’s not just enough to have motivations of people inside a story but to know that these people have personalities, aspirations, or a psyche outside of what’s going on in the day-to-day moments of whatever medium the story is taking place. And some mediums have characters who persist for years, while other formats have characters who only show up for an hour-long episode before they go away. In spite of this, it’s sometimes easier to develop an attachment towards the hour-long character than the decade long one. But that’s counter-intuitive, don’t you think? If you’ve spent a decade following a character around, you’d expect there to be more of an attachment to these characters because you’d (hopefully) know their motivations to a better degree than someone who you’ve only known for an hour, where of that hour was also focusing on some event occurring around them so you can’t solely focus on this one-episode character the entire time.

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