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  • Roger Meloche

    Member
    July 14, 2021 at 6:24 am
    Founding Member Premium Member

    A large part Game design is trying to get inside a player’s mind. Just when you’ve got things figured out, a player surprises you in a play-test with a completely unexpected behavior. I don’t pretend to be a Psychologist, but I am constantly looking under that Cranial Hood, trying to figure out how players think and behave. I’ll bet everyone has some funny stories or crackpot theories about player’s quirky and sometimes perplexing behaviors. Let’s hear a few.

  • Roger Meloche

    Member
    July 14, 2021 at 6:32 am
    Founding Member Premium Member

    Ok, I’ll start…..I was working on a skydiving game and wanted to emulate the intensity of the freefall. I decided to have the players draw first, resulting in limited time to make a decision and increasing the pressure on the players. I couldn’t have been more wrong! The end result was an AP riddled snooze-fest. I hadn’t realized that the delayed decisions were actually slowing down the game, taking the players right out of the Freefalling Mindset. I quickly changed the draw back to the end of a players turn, so they can plan their move between turns. Oops!

  • Roger Meloche

    Member
    July 14, 2021 at 9:53 am
    Founding Member Premium Member

    I recently started a book about Hoarding called “Stuff” by Randy Frost and Gail Steketee. It describes one of the causes the hoarding behavior as “resulting, at least in part, from deficits in processing information…. the lack of ability to categorize and remember…and the lack of confidence in making decisions.” This may shed some light on why set collecting is so prevalent in games and how we can make it more engaging.

    Maybe we can obscure the value of items through hidden information and randomness, as well as making the different categories of objects more vague with items that fit into more than one. Changing end conditions in a game could undermine a players confidence or strategy and providing a large number of possible items could increase the difficulty of remembering all the items or combinations. These features might be used trigger or enhance our hoarding instincts and feed our compulsion to collect bigger and better sets. Just Thinking….

    • Emily Bekius

      Member
      July 14, 2021 at 10:40 am

      So do you think these types of games that focus on the importance of set/resource collecting, etc are contributing to people feeling the need to hoard objects in their own lives?
      And do you think if people play games that challenge these decision-making and sorting skills, (making it more difficult to do so) that they can develop better real life skills that would prevent them from hoarding? Or alternatively make it harder for them to make those decisions? I’m not exactly sure myself – just also thinking out loud…
      What if games would focus on the importance of letting things go? Understanding what is and what isn’t important… is that kind of what you’re saying?
      I think it’s a very fascinating thought. I would think games geared at children might be able to form more of an actual impact on them developing these skills for their adult lives.

      • Roger Meloche

        Member
        July 14, 2021 at 1:45 pm
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        I hope that a board game won’t have a strong enough influence on a person to adversely affect their lives. I was just pondering ways to tap into people’s natural tendencies. You bring up a good point, however. Everything affects us in life to a certain degree and good life lessons are always welcome in a board game. On the flip side, a board game might give us the opportunity to act out our more primitive compulsions in a safe environment, rather than in real life where the risks may be far greater.

        • Emily Bekius

          Member
          July 15, 2021 at 8:40 am

          I agree – I think there are way too many factors in people’s lives that affect behavior for a game in and of itself to cause anything adverse.

      • James Baldwin

        Member
        July 15, 2021 at 12:34 am
        Premium Member Founding Member

        I think it’s commonly understood that “play”, whether it’s children’s imaginative play, babies banging things together to see how they work, or adults engaging with complicated eurogame systems to create maximum efficiency, are all driven by our brain’s desire to learn.

        In that way, play is quite a lot like dreaming. It’s rehearsal for real life.

        But I think it’s complicated. I don’t think it’s as easy as “set collecting in games encourages hoarding in real life”, any more than “violence in video games encourages violence in real life”. I like your idea of it encouraging or teaching better organisational skills, and I think there’s some merit to that idea.

        I was brought up by a terrible hoarder, and she taught me an over sentimentality and even a personification of objects (as a child I packed and brought home a pair of shoes which had been thrown away on holiday because I felt sorry for them being abandoned!).

        When does collecting finish, and hoarding start? Are they the same thing? I find it hard to get rid of old books and DVD’s because they’re my record of the books I’ve read and films I’ve watched, so that does seem to come from a fear of forgetting. My mother was brought up by the war generation, and they didn’t have as much stuff, so they looked after and repurposed what they had. Her mantra is “it might be useful one day”. I’m not sure that conforms to the idea of hoarding Roger mentions above.

        But I think the kind of set collection we see in games is more about putting together a “tool kit” containing the things you need for life/the task at hand. That’s a very human instinct. I can see that there’s an element of “it might be useful one day” in there. But I also think those mechanics encourage good decision making about what you will REALLY need for the task at hand, and not just what you think you might need… So it’s about efficient collecting, as contrasted with indiscriminate hoarding?

        I don’t have any answers, but it’s an interesting topic.

        • Emily Bekius

          Member
          July 15, 2021 at 8:52 am

          Definitely! I agree games likely couldn’t cause hoarding behavior, I guess I was just wondering what was being implied. That is very interesting about how you grew up. I can see how that would be hard to let things go, if you are worried about forgetting. I think my mom is that way too, she keeps things because she has memories attached to them, not because they are ever going to be useful. And I think that’s ok for a lot of things. It was hard for me to get rid of toys and stuffed animals because of that too – and also how you said things could be personified. There’s a lot of psychology involved in all of this that I don’t pretend to know enough about! But either way – I agree that games and play are very, very important for development for kids, and all kinds of benefits for adults. Any psychologists here who know more about that and how it can be applied to game design?

          • Tim Gee

            Member
            July 15, 2021 at 8:39 pm
            Premium Member Founding Member

            There has been extensive research into a carry over effects of violence in video games to society and the majority of literature says no it doesn’t. So I think it is fair to draw the same conclusion of the effect that board games can have on societal behaviours. The fact that you can develop different skills sets while playing board games (cognitive processing, memory, teamwork) could carry across to the ‘real world’ but I don’t think it would dictate the kind of behaviour someone would choose to do, just how they did it.

          • James Baldwin

            Member
            July 16, 2021 at 1:23 am
            Premium Member Founding Member

            I would recommend Ralph Koster’s book “A Theory of Fun for Game Design”. It’s a very accessible book and talks extensively on the subject of what fun is and how games and play satisfy our desire to learn and rehearse. Understanding what drives “fun” is, of course, really important.

  • Roger Meloche

    Member
    July 17, 2021 at 10:09 am
    Founding Member Premium Member

    I was listening to a podcast about social norms and human behavior ( https://pca.st/nzg05lzm ) and it got me thinking about how much influence social norms have over game-play. In an auction, for example, a player will either offer a price to purchase, or offer a good at a certain price. The other players will accept or refuse. You don’t see players setting a price and somehow forcing the other players to pay it, or hand over the goods. This would be counter-intuitive, but it might work, given the proper incentives to set a reasonable price.

    Can anybody else think of examples of social norms governing game-play or game design?

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