View Poll Results: Do you feel RNG/Skinner Box models are exploitive?

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  • Yes

    27 40.91%
  • No

    25 37.88%
  • On the fence

    14 21.21%

Thread: Rats in a Maze

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  1. #1

    Rats in a Maze

    I recently read this article on Medium. It brought me back to all the research I did on a senior thesis paper back in High School about EverQuest and video game addiction. One of my favorite sources was this: http://www.nickyee.com/eqt/home.html

    It was a study on player psychology and using the Skinner Box model to keep people playing. To be fair, I’m not sure the EverQuest devs really intended for their game to be so addictive, but with current MMOs, with WoW the prime offender, I see blatant usage of these models in their games.

    I’d also like to point out the guy who did the EQ study over ten years ago now works for Ubisoft and has done a thorough MMO study: http://www.nickyee.com/index-daedalus.html


    My question to you is do you ever feel games, WoW in particular, exploit your brain with the RNG Skinner Box model? I feel Garrisons in general are an exact replica of the Skinner Box method with fancy graphics. A lot of systems in WoD are all about RNG, and WoW has more RNG rewards than ever in this expansion. PVP boxes, Salvage Crates, Work Orders, Quest/Follower Upgrades, etc.

    If you aren't familiar with the Skinner Box and don't feel like reading all that stuff I linked. Basically its a proven psychological reward structure where animals, including humans, have the most interaction with a system when theres a variable reward structure (RNG). A fixed reward structure like you do this 3 times, get reward, 3 more times, reward doesn't work. However, not knowing how often you get the reward, just knowing you won't get it unless you do X repeatedly, makes you do it more. Even if the reward is given much, much less often.

    I see this in other games as well these days and I just think its shitty. But I wonder how many people actually even care. Some people might just be like, well they are exploiting my psychology, but it makes me feel good on some level, so I'm fine with it.

    Thoughts?
    Quote Originally Posted by Kektonic View Post
    It's not even anger. It's disappointment. I'm past the point in this game where I even allow myself to be angry at anything Blizzard does. I'm disappointed that a company who used to be at the forefront of quality game design and attitude have now joined the dregs of the rest of the AAA game industry basically shitting out whatever cash grabs they can sucker people into before interest in a franchise completely dies out.

  2. #2
    Any MMO is going to exploit this in some fashion, unless it's largely pvp oriented, or has some method of supplying unlimited and consistently new content. I don't see anything wrong with it really.
    "Look around you. We're all liars here, and every one of us is better than you" - PB

  3. #3
    Immortal Revi's Avatar
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    I think they quite obviously do, but it's what people prefer, so why not? Should they make the game intentionally less enjoyable?

  4. #4
    The Lightbringer Kickbuttmario's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revi View Post
    I think they quite obviously do, but it's what people prefer, so why not? Should they make the game intentionally less enjoyable?
    What...? You don't understand this concept do you.

    As for the topic, No. I don't. I don't like this at all. I don't mind the RNG aspect of loot dropping and your loot dropping. Dopamine is dopamine and having that loot drop is awesome but this expansion has RNG built upon RNG. Many have already come to hate this living crap out of it. Garrisons are very obvious on this. Its extremely obvious the guys who made this were being evil as much as possible.

    If they are going to make systems utilize the Skinner Box and revolve its psychology for us players, at least make it damn well fun.
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  5. #5
    Immortal Revi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kickbuttmario View Post
    What...? You don't understand this concept do you.
    I do, yes.

  6. #6
    Dreadlord draganid's Avatar
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    of course its exploitaive, we're all just too dam hooked to do anything about it lol
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  7. #7
    They can exploit my brain as much as they want as long as i'm gonna enjoy it. I play a lot of Diablo which is all about that.

  8. #8
    So they utilize a proven model that works well to keep people gaming.

    Other models, as you described in your OP, dont work to keep people coming back. How then do they make a game that keeps you playing for extended amounts of time (years) with out using that model?

    If your trying to make it an ethical argument, thats just not right. Its bout keeping people engaged, and doing it effectively. Theres nothing ethically wrong with that when designing a game that needs to last for years.

  9. #9
    WoW doesn't really seem like a greater example of Skinner Box game design to me. Yes there's random rewards but they are pretty constrained in scope. And most of what you're going to seriously want (e.g. raid loot) you can only try for on a fixed timeline, like once per week, anyway.

    A true Skinner Box game, imho, is something like the Diablo games. You can keep playing and kill mobs and bosses again and again and again and again and again and again and again, and every attempt has a miniscule chance of hitting an absolute jackpot, as the massive randomness of loot means that there really are one-in-a-million perfect items that can drop.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Revi View Post
    I think they quite obviously do, but it's what people prefer, so why not? Should they make the game intentionally less enjoyable?
    I think you're mis-using the term "enjoyable".

    Playing a table top game with friends and laughing is enjoyable. Is getting gear upgrades over and over really fun? Or is it just addictive...

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by soulzek View Post
    I think you're mis-using the term "enjoyable".

    Playing a table top game with friends and laughing is enjoyable. Is getting gear upgrades over and over really fun? Or is it just addictive...
    This isn't about getting gear upgrades, it's about the RNG of upgrades encouraging playing more than consistent upgrades at specific intervals.

    Which I would agree, is generally much more enjoyable. The game is much more interesting when you do a boss and might get nothing, might get a drop you need, might get a drop you need with a gem slot or tertiary state, or might get a drop you did or did not need but ends up warforged and so is an upgrade anyway--than when you do a boss and know it has a 100% chance to drop x item.

    The same is true of a lot of WoD's RNG systems.
    The fact that quest-given followers have an RNG quality makes them more interesting than if every single follower was always green and had x abilities every time you went through the quests.
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  12. #12
    Immortal Revi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soulzek View Post
    I think you're mis-using the term "enjoyable".

    Playing a table top game with friends and laughing is enjoyable. Is getting gear upgrades over and over really fun? Or is it just addictive...
    Well, if it makes you feel good it's enjoyable. Getting your fix of an addiction is absolutely enjoyable. People love addictive games though, so while it might not be super healthy for everyone involved, there's no reason they should intentionally make it less addictive.

    Personally, if everything happened at set intervals (crits, loot, whatever) I think WoW would be ruined for me.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by soulzek View Post
    I think you're mis-using the term "enjoyable".

    Playing a table top game with friends and laughing is enjoyable. Is getting gear upgrades over and over really fun? Or is it just addictive...
    I don't think you're qualified to tell other people what is enjoyable, which is an intently subjective thing.

  14. #14
    i honestly hate it. it took me a MONTH to get just ONE 1h weapon for my frost dk better than the sargerei soulbiter (620 1h sword dropped by a rare in shatt). whats even worse is that we have to wait for the gear to drop, and then hope it has useful / better stats on it that mak it better than the other item we have that is 10 ilvl lower. if we got showered in loot every time we finished a dungeon or something, then these randomized stats wouldnt be as much of a problem

  15. #15
    Moderator MoanaLisa's Avatar
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    They are only exploitative if you allow it. If that's what you're concerned about rather than having fun then perhaps rethink how you spend your leisure time. It's very liberating to jump off the hamster wheel that is gear reward, no longer bowing to peer pressure, and just going with the flow of the game. It's much more fun which is the point.
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  16. #16
    Elemental Lord Destil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoanaLisa View Post
    They are only exploitative if you allow it. If that's what you're concerned about rather than having fun then perhaps rethink how you spend your leisure time. It's very liberating to jump off the hamster wheel that is gear reward, no longer bowing to peer pressure, and just going with the flow of the game. It's much more fun which is the point.
    Furthermore, if you're looking for better examples of this behavior that has no positive additive aside from "good gameplay", take a look at Rift and Destiny, more specifically Destiny.

    The new expansion that just launched basically made the hard word people had spent upon the previous (and only) raid entirely obsolete, simply so that people would continue on this "hamster wheel".

    MMOs, any game of a "loot" manner, will always have this aesthetic. There is no avoiding it; that is literally what makes this genre in its entirety.

    People want something to work towards. When they've gathered everything they want and get tired of it, they move on and want more.

    Hence Patch cycles, expansion cycles, etc..

    And as long as people enjoy it, they'll continue on it.

    I don't mind it. If things get to jarring or droll, I've always quit. I'm barely playing the game as is right now because, for me at least, that's all it's been boiling down for me (and because I've been too busy to play).
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  17. #17
    Bloodsail Admiral Annarion's Avatar
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    Weird, I made a comment on Reddit about this phenomenon today. I definitely recognize that they're tapping into some psychology with all the random rewards, but I don't really think it's all that sinister. The point of the game is to be enjoyable and engaging, and that seems to be the best reward structure to do so. Whether or not it's enjoyable is up to the person.

    I do, however, think that we should make psychology education mandatory for children, so that they can recognize more easily when they are being played.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Annarion View Post
    I do, however, think that we should make psychology education mandatory for children, so that they can recognize more easily when they are being played.
    Or they can get people to do what they want better... no, that in the hands of children is a terrible idea.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by soulzek View Post
    I think you're mis-using the term "enjoyable".

    Playing a table top game with friends and laughing is enjoyable. Is getting gear upgrades over and over really fun? Or is it just addictive...
    Well playing the game has to be fun in itself, getting gear is just a little sprinkle on top that adds an extra bit of enjoyment and gives replay value.

  20. #20
    This is basically taking free will out of the equation.

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