This turned into more of a set of bullet points rather than a conversation starter. Nevertheless I feel they are relevant enough to be included as the topic itself is behaviour and design.
When I first started gaming, there were no on-line guides and walkthroughs. For playing games such as King’s Quest and Quest for Glory, you had to call Sierra directly to access their ‘Game Hint Hot-line’. Now you have speed walkthroughs, lets play walkthroughs, lore walkthroughs (more emphasis on story and plot), 100% complete walkthroughs, and so on.
I am stubborn as hell. If I can’t get past a certain point in a game, I’ll stop playing for awhile. A walkthrough for me feels like cheating myself out of the game’s experience. Lately looking over how many games I have incomplete, I have simply gone back and put them on easy to finish them. Finishing a game helps me justify the 10-50$ I put into the game in the first place.
This is just one of many scenarios that go through a person’s mind when they sit down to ‘enjoy’ a game. Knowing this, developers can manipulate they way you respond to games through story plots and game mechanics. A horror game plays on your fears, an action game plays off your adrenaline in the line of fire. A ‘facebook’ game plays off your want to complete something, and then only provides that completeness when you put money into the game.
Zynga had the right idea when they first started putting out F2P facebook games. Players slowly rose to the top and found they had nothing else to do. A few options following allowed Zynga to keep players playing longer as well as make more money. More and more pay only items were added to their games, and Zynga started coming out with new games almost every month. If you got tired of one, there was another literally being advertized right there as you played. They even have meta rewards for you if you did X things in xyz games. It keeps you playing their games. Ads pop up on your screen every so often literally preventing you from playing the game unless you clicked accept and from there you could then hit cancel to go back to playing, for spend 5$ to get that cow with a bowtie on in your farm.
Games are designed around how we think. This is obvious when you look at games across cultures and see how differently they play on that culture’s way of thinking. What is relevant between all cultures is the sense of accomplishment. Rewards and incentives are a core mechanic in video games. Consider this now. It is known that rewarding positive behaviour produces more results than punishing bad behaviour right? Take a basic game like pac-man and take out limited lives. You’d be left with a game where instead of fearing the ghosts, subconsciously you know you can just try again and there is less incentive to learn to play better.
Apply this to WoW and LFR and now you have game content where if you lose (wipe on a fight) all you lose is time and some repair gold. You are not punished more than that. You are actually rewarded with a buff that makes you more powerful in the next attempt. Some of you may think this is similar to heroic raids. You go in and wipe and all you lose is time and some repair gold. Wrong.
You lose the preconception that you are badass and you can clear anything. Heroic raids show you that your shinies do not matter. You can not simply brute force your way through a heroic raid like you can in LFR. This humbling experience is what separates casuals and hardcore players. Vanilla WoW, EVERYONE learned one way or another, you have to know what you are doing to step foot in a raid. If you didn’t, you held everyone back. Raids could only be done by people who took the time to understand the game. The game was designed around skill and rewarded that skill with items only skilled players could get.
Blizzard then decided to design the game around casuals instead of skill. Those raids you had to work for, you had to gear up for, read up strategies for, learn what class synergy to use for, you can now just spend two weeks mindlessly spamming 1 and 2 killing X mobs for tokens for gear and then queue to be automatically be put inside the raid where other players tell you to just group them all together and spam 1 and 2 again.
This is not rewarding. Players are not forced to learn the game mechanics. If you give people who ignore game mechanics the same rewards you give people who know everything about the game mechanics, you end up with two sides bashing each other and no one wins.
Game developers know how players feels. They have large amounts of data on how they react to certain scenarios, nevermind hundreds of psychological human studies done. They know exactly how to incite different emotions in players. They know exactly what makes a game fun, challenging, boring, exciting, horrible. Sometimes player satisfaction is ignored for some quick $$$.