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RE: [gamedesign-l] Game Addiction (was Re: Paying for MMORPG stats and items)

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  • Brandon J. Van Every
    ... Here s an alternate theory that might explain really really long games. When people play games, they re seeking satisfaction. I know that when I played
    Message 1 of 34 , Apr 30, 2002
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      > It really baffles me, because I see so many games that are tedious as
      > all hell! Civ, SMAC would seem to incorporate many elements to
      > *prevent* people from getting hooked on them.

      Here's an alternate theory that might explain really really long games.
      When people play games, they're seeking satisfaction. I know that when
      I played mindless video games in college, to blow off steam before doing
      more homework, I'd play for about 1/2 to 1 hour before feeling "sated."
      At that point I simply wouldn't want to play the game anymore. I
      wouldn't feel bored with the game, I'd just feel satisfied and like I
      didn't want to shoot the aliens anymore. Maybe neuromuscular exhaustion
      plays a role here. Maybe you can only keep up your hand eye
      coordination for so long before you don't want to do it anymore.

      Compare this to exceedingly long TBS games. There's no neuromuscular
      exhaustion. The soonest you're going to hit exhaustion is due to lack
      of food, sleep, or physical fatigue from how you sit at the computer.
      We've all proven that human beings can go a pretty long time before
      being forced to succumb to these pressures. Heck, working people pull
      their long shifts all the time, and inadequate provision for one's
      material needs doesn't stop anything. "Toughing it out" for a computer
      game really isn't that much more difficult than toughing it out for a
      job. In fact it's easier, because for a long time the task seems
      rewarding.

      So, what's really causing the "addictive" behavior? FAILURE of
      satiation. We never feel satisfied! I can't count how many times I've
      played Civ/SMAC hoping for a good game and not getting it. I finally
      got over it, and it now drives all of my game design efforts, but I did
      that for at least 2 years before kicking. Maybe longer? I can't
      remember anymore.

      FAILURE of satiation describes most TBS games. I think it also
      describes most RPG games with their incredibly tedious levelling up
      dynamics. I don't think it describes high twitch RTS or FPS games.

      Compare movies. How many movies do you feel like watching in a row?
      What's the highest number of movies you've ever watched in a row? 4
      maybe? Movies give satiation, mostly. I've never heard of a movie
      addict, in any clinical sense.

      So, my theory is, people get addicted to our games because they're TOO
      BORING! Ironically enough!


      Cheers, www.3DProgrammer.com
      Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA

      20% of the world is real.
      80% is gobbledygook we make up inside our own heads.
    • Russ Williams
      ... Hmm, I think you re thinking of Fantasy General, a fairly tactical micromanagey hex-based wargame. Fantasy War, at the sony station, WAS a multiplayer
      Message 34 of 34 , May 23 5:20 PM
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        > From: Drew Torrens [mailto:drew.torrens@...]
        > > I played Fantasy War there and enjoyed it. Very annoying when they just
        > > pulled the plug on it with no real warning. Grr.

        > On the note of Fantasy War, I was thinking it would be great to create a
        > multiplayer version of Final Fantasy Tactics or the like... It
        > was a great
        > game, but I felt it could benefit from a human opponent, and maybe a more
        > flexible campaign.

        Hmm, I think you're thinking of Fantasy General, a fairly tactical
        micromanagey hex-based wargame.

        Fantasy War, at the sony station, WAS a multiplayer online game (no AI
        players in fact) that was a little more strategic, with area movement and
        simultaneous orders (somewhat analogous to the boardgame Diplomacy). It was
        a very unusual computer game -- it felt like a nifty boardgame in many ways
        (not surprising given it was designed by Greg Costikyan and inspired by his
        Barbarian Kings boardgame), and had a small but very dedicated following.
        You paid like $2 or whatever to play a game which would last 20 to 25 turns.
        Something like 9 or 10 different countries each with special units, spells,
        etc. Good fun. In a way it meets some of Brandon's Holy Grail now that I
        think about (a game with economic development, building units to conquer
        areas, etc, and completable in a reasonable predictable amount of time).
        The difference is the amount of time is spaced out in chunks (spend a few
        minutes doing your turn each day for 3 weeks instead of spending a few hours
        in one sitting.) Actually they also had "blitz mode" where you play the
        whole game in one sitting.
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