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Marcy_Azraelle comments on Superstimuli and the Collapse of Western Civilization - Less Wrong

60 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 16 March 2007 06:10PM

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Comment author: [deleted] 08 June 2012 07:48:06AM 2 points [-]

I found World of Warcraft's addictiveness pretty overrated myself. The quests are repetitive, the dialogue is narmy, the community in general seemed mostly unpleasant (I didn't really communicate much with anyone I didn't know from somewhere else but a few minutes in a city reveal this...)

The only real fun I had with it was playing with some people I knew. Still, a lot of games (especially western games) these days seem more interested in getting money through addiction tricks (online RPGs) and pandering to the masses (Call of Duty?) than by being really fun and interesting...and it seems to work too.

What really causes me to lose sleep is reading, writing RPG-like statistics just for fun and listening to music. I have spent hours in the early morning going from listening to a song to wanting to listen to another to wanting to listen to either of them again or a different one...I truly end up mentally begging myself for "one more song".

It is 1:46 AM right now too...and I am caught in it again...though at least it doesn't hurt me as much as it normally would since I do get all my sleep through getting up later.

Comment author: MarkusRamikin 08 June 2012 12:01:49PM 2 points [-]

pandering to the masses

What do you mean by that and how is it different from making a game "fun and interesting"?

Comment author: [deleted] 08 June 2012 12:07:16PM *  4 points [-]

"Fun and interesting" is actually a very complicated collection of attributes.

For example, some games are designed to appeal to so-called "casual" gamers (e.g., low barrier to entry, gradual accumulation of gameplay features, shallow depth of gameplay), and some games are designed to appeal to so-called "hardcore" gamers (e.g., complex gameplay, unforgiving level design, reliance on hand-eye coordination and twitch reflexes, complicated mythology and plot).

Pandering to the masses often means the former at the (perceived) expense of the latter.

Comment author: [deleted] 08 June 2012 06:18:16PM *  2 points [-]

Paper-machine's answer is right on target. The first example of a casual game built on psychological addiction tricks to entrap the masses that comes to mind would be Farmville.

The tricks are simple enough. The crops you grow can wither and die if you don't return to them on time, for example, there are a few articles going into more detail about how this uses people's emotional fear of loss to help ensure that they are back by the set time to save their crops.

Over time, people also get so invested in the farm, both in measures of time and real money spent on virtual items that they can't quit easily, especially with all their friends sending them gifts or messages related to the game and encouraging you to send something back.

People also start competing with each other, fueling the urges to stay there and try to have a nicer farm than those around you.

However, even with all these tricks the game itself feels more like a chore than like a game and is not really very interesting.

This is not to say that simple games that really have effort put into them can't be fun or have hidden beauties (Touhou is simple enough to get into) or that all complicated games or games heavy on math are good (FATAL was complex...or so it seemed looking at the manual)...

Quick Edit: I wouldn't call more complex games "hardcore", a game can have deep mechanics to some extent while also making them very intuitive. I don't really feel it would be adequate to call -any- game "hardcore" myself, I feel some better word might be more appropiate depending on what kind of game it is.

A game with simple gameplay can still have a detailed lore and world (World of Warcraft?) and a dificult game can have a simple gameplay and story too (Classic Megaman?). I don't think it would be good to use the same label for all of them.