Saturday, January 14, 2012


I have been reading an interesting set of powerpoint slides by Richard Bartle, who you may have heard of because he is the person who came up with the 4 types of gamers... Achievers, socializers, explorers, and killers. In his presentation he talks about what he calls 'Gamification'. Anything can be gamified by adding rewards to it, even if it is not intrinsically enjoyable. We see this done to get kids to do their homework, etc, and to draw RPGs out so the game lasts longer. Check out the article here.

It starts to get good a little before halfway through. Here is quote that you might need to read some of the power point before you get completely:

"Gamification is basically bribery... You reward someone for doing something that you want them to do. It can be regular or irregular. Regularity: “pull this handle 20 times and we’ll give you £1”. Examples of this is your everyday employment: Vanilla gamification. Irregularity: “pull this handle and there’s a 5% chance of winNing £1”. This is like gambling, which is advanced gamification. This is starting to look like a variable ratio reinforcement schedule, a psychological topic of study. You might know it as Operant conditioning, which is very interesting if you have stuff to sell.

"Game designers studiously avoid operant conditioning (for extrinsic rewards). It’s not really fun- fun is intrinsic, not extrinsic. It’s an admission of failure. It means the gameplay is too weak on its own. Also it’s only usable on naive players, and once they’ve learned the pattern, they avoid it. Finally, it’s immoral!"

I think that this is interesting at the least.... And very real in todays MMO climate. In other parts of the industry as well: With all the games coming out for phones, etc, operant conditioning is at its peak. I am sure a lot of you have played these games that are on phones these days, and they are not like the games that came out on the early game systems in the 90's, despite the controls being simple and graphics being 2D. Many of these top selling games have been molded into mathmatical perfection. Simplistic, quick, and with all those bells and whistles to peak your excitement at all the right times.

And we see this in MMOs today, big time. If you read the slide I put here on the right, it basically is a prediction by Bartle that casual gamers will eventually catch on to the conditioning they are being put through by these games, and become bored with them. That would mean the $$ that is to be made from using over-gamification would no longer be useful on the masses (just children, I suppose).

Lets take World of Warcraft for example; just because a lot of people play warcraft does not mean it is a good game. Firstly,warcraft'smarketing was astronomical. But aside from that,the vast majority ofwarcraftplayers have never encountered a game with so much gamification- reward systems based on operant psychological conditioning, and therefore they fall prey to it easily. One reason why they might not migrate to another warcraft-like game is because they are starting to see through the mundane meaningless conditioning system that warcraftused on them and they are unwilling to fall prey to another game in that same way.

I think that he is being a little too optimistic. But I am focusing 99% on intrinsic value for my game anyways. I want to create game play that makes activities in the game valuable on their own and according to each player.


No comments:

Post a Comment