Balancing between anxiety and boredom (was RE: [MUD-Dev] Fair/Unf air? Scenarios (fwd) )

J C Lawrence claw at
Sat Dec 18 17:29:50 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

On Fri, 17 Dec 1999 14:08:36 -0800 
Sellers, Michael <MSellers at> wrote:

> So: insta-death traps that you cannot see coming qualify as
> way-high challenge for which there is no commensurate skill, and
> thus which is likely to induce great anxiety in most players.
> OTOH, telling the players every time they're about to encounter
> the least bit of danger lowers the challenge too much, raising the
> probability of boredom (and the more advanced the *player* is, the
> easier it is to bore them, as their challenges must increase as
> their skill increases).  There are a variety of techniques to
> present a real challenge while allowing the player to prepare for
> it and decide whether to face it or avoid it, thus helping to keep
> them in the flow, engaged, fun area where we want them to be.

I'm used to looking at this in terms of randomity (motion, activity,
etc in their direct environment).  Different people can accept and
deal with different levels of action, and thus of unprediction
motion and activity, in their environments, and can live and work
comfortably with that.  It varies by individual, over time, by
situation, field and scenario, with changes in education and
ability, with mood, etc.

  Consider the simple case of driving.  Most of us on this list are
  used to driving on highways and moderately sized cities.  Driving
  in a large city such as New York is a shock and we may approach
  overwhelm.  Going to some place like Rome or Paris is courting
  disaster and intellectual paralysis as the sheer chaos and
  comparitive unpredictability of the driving patterns there
  overwhelm our base randomity tolerances (until familiarity
  (education) raise them again).

One of the more interesting aspects is that a highly dynamic
individual (high tolerance for randomity) placed in a low randomity
environment will actively _create_ randomity about him, actively
create problems, things to worry about, thing that he has to work at
etc, until his randomity level is satisified.  

The classic case is the bored kid in school who has already learnt
the lesson and is now making trouble while he is forced to wait for
the rest of the class to catch up.  The parallels in MUDdom are many
and very well known.

J C Lawrence                                 Home: claw at
----------(*)                              Other: coder at
--=| A man is as sane as he is dangerous to his environment |=--

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