Standard scenarios, game addiction and game enjoyment

Posting about a paladin who doesn't like goblins and doesn't deal with Blood Elves sparked a hefty discussion about what is roleplay, fascism, and how to deal with such people if the dungeon finder accidentally dropped such a "cad" into your group. Yes, the thread turned out to be interesting. I will not reiterate my position on this style of play, but once again, I want to point out why I published this piece. I love people who depart from stereotypes, break them, instead of repeating the action scenario given by someone else, they find their own and follow it.

Just the other day on Habra I read a rather interesting article on the subject of how gamdevs put game addictive elements into a game. Read it with great interest, although in principle there is nothing particularly new to me. In short, a lot of the elements of game mechanics are tied to the system of goal setting for players and rewards for achieving these goals. In the article there is a link to the article by one of Microsoft employees, who told us how to make games that make the gameplay almost endless. There's a quote underneath:

His theory builds on the work of B.F. Skinner, who discovered the ability to control behavior by training subjects with inferior stimuli and rewards. He invented the "Skinner box", a chamber containing a small animal that, for example, presses a lever to get food.

Game design is now a vast source of controversy. The creator of Braid, Jonathan Blow, says that the mechanics of Skinner games are a kind of "exploitation". These games are not meant to be enjoyable. They're designed to force players to renew their subscriptions even if they're not having fun by locking them into repetitive actions, using Skinner's system for carefully-planned rewards.

I think this is a familiar situation for everyone. You complete an action, you get gold. You want a T10 kit, go into a randomizer that's downgraded to plinth level and you're guaranteed to get two ice packs. If you want something better - go to 10/25 on CLC on qd and get what you need out of the bosses. The game provides a lot of standard behavior scenarios that force us to do basically routine work every day. These are the mechanisms of the game after levelkap, when the character has got all the skills and it seems he has nowhere else to develop. Many players state that the game turns into a chore at 80+ and after a while remember the process of rocking the first character with a sad smile. And maybe that's why many people start swinging alt characters in order to feel the freshness of the game or... It's always possible to move away from standard scenarios and then everything will play with new colors and, moreover, the "Skinner Box" mechanism will not "train subjects with low incentives and rewards".

What can be defined as a departure from the standard mechanics built into the game? We've already looked at the example of the paladin Petya. Roleplay, if it is, of course, and not drinking in the bars of Stormwind, also a non-trivial scenario. Gevlon and his companions passing Ulduar in the bicentennial sync is non-trivial. As, say, swinging horde character on the server where 95% of the Alliance. Or pumping a character only in a peaceful way, without a single kill. Or even naked swing to the very levelcap? And then, for example, Exploring. How do you like this project? It's a pity that the magazine is no longer published, and on my attempts to get to Selezin, chief author of the project, has not yet led to anything, but I hope that I can still catch him in the game.

I would venture to say that the bargains on Auk is also a manifestation of "substandard". In fact, people are playing with two things - an advanced add-on auction interface and a mailbox that allows you to rake in all the mail at once. It's essentially an economic strategy with a lot more creativity than a routine like "kill 15 cultists and get 13 gold" and a dozen other similar quests that are starting to make your teeth hurt after a month. People play with numbers, analyze trends, react to situations, plan and manage the material and financial flows, and it requires much more tension in the gray matter than pressing three buttons.

There are also more radical methods of departing from the "standard scenario". Bibiville once said in an interview with WoCom that he hardly ever plays WoW. Ever since he started running mmo-champion he's been doing nothing but digging through PTR files and then dumping out the stuff he dug up. Basically he keeps playing WoW, but not the way others do. And fan art, literary texts, comics, finally screenshots from the game? Yes, of course, a decent portion of this content is not too high quality, but still - people are engaged in creativity. They do not farm dailies-heroics, and "play" in WoW, drawing and making words about Azeroth. A separate topic is machinima, amateur films based on the game engine. Some of them are just little masterpieces. Well, a theme such as the creation of add-on games, and information infrastructure, ranging from blogs and ending with a global database type wowhead is not creativity? A departure from the "standard" in any case involves straining brains, imagination and creating something new. And like any creativity this activity develops personality and its abilities.

Like any other phenomenon, WoW can become a tedious chore that destroys the psyche and life, and in return gives the illusion of possessing something. Or it can become an excuse and material for creativity. A lot depends on a person and on what kind of person he is in life in general. Many people have enough "standard" game scenarios that they implement with varying degrees of intensity. Some depart from them and get their own fun, which let's just say the "Skinner's box" the developer put into the game was not intended. No one is forcing you to farm or grind or do the achievements that the blizs came up with for you. You don't have to sit in the game 24 hours a day to do that. Moreover, paradoxically - sometimes you don't need to play it at all.

A lot really depends on you. Try to move away from the standard in the game and maybe in your real life you can learn to make unconventional decisions and approach it more creatively.


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