[MUD-Dev] Geometric content generation

J Aitken djaitken at bigpond.net.au
Tue Oct 2 17:55:24 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

----- Original Message -----
From: "John Hopson" <jhopson at nc.rr.com>

> Exactly.  Stimulus, response.  Orc, fireball.  :)

> Hmmm.  As the resident behavioral psych person, let me pipe up and
> see if I can better express the role of psychology in game design.
> Knowing some of the most basic principles by which the mind works
> and using those principles to design better games is not
> entrapment.  It is mental ergonomics, designing a game to work
> with the players rather than imposing decisions on them at the
> designer's whim.  A chair could be designed which was an artistic
> marvel but was so uncomfortable that no one would use it.
> Likewise, using the finest materials doesn't guarantee that the
> outcome will be something people want to sit on.  It is not
> manipulation or entrapment to shape a chair to be comfortable,
> it's the chair designer's job.

> Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that setting up an
> effective schedule of reinforcement is all there is to a game, any
> more than grammar is all there is to Shakespeare.  But it is an
> essential component of the medium, and one that deserves respect
> and attention.

I agree it deserves respect and certaianly attention but dont know
if I agree that behavioural psych is a neutral tool thats just about
'making a more comfortable game'.  This strikes me too much as
similar to gambling institutions claiming that gambling is 'just
another form of entertainment' whilst doing things to prevent people
realising how deep they're getting into trouble - the classic one
being not having any clocks in view so people dont relaise how long
they've been there, and not having the outside easily viewable so
they dont see what time of day it is.

Some forms of reinforcement are more problematic than others, and
there are certainly ways to (IMO) misuse these mechanisms.  Now I'm
not saying MMO's are there quite yet, but we've all heard the
stories.  Similar to gambling, its quite possible to design feedback
loops that tend to be as much about compulsion as they are about
pleasurable responses.

I think the only thing really stopping these issues becoming too
much of an issue in the industry is flat rate fees.  Its actually
not in game designers interests to make something that involves play
being too compulsive from an hourly play rate basis, because it
costs them money.  It has to be interesting but not something where
people will end up pushing the button 10000 times to get the next

J Aitken.

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