Too Much Success

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Too Much Success

Everyone likes to succeed, but games may be trying a bit too hard to make every player feel like a winner.

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Example of this? I haven't really noticed games giving players more praise tbh.

jamie1000001:
Example of this? I haven't really noticed games giving players more praise tbh.

Starcraft 2. People apparently couldn't stand losing so much that most stopped playing competetive ladder games. Blizzard's solution: don't display losses. At all. Now everyone's essentially a winner.

Which is a load of bollocks. People should not be encouraging this sort of pitiful behaviour while directly driving the industry backwards.

Hammeroj:

jamie1000001:
Example of this? I haven't really noticed games giving players more praise tbh.

Starcraft 2. People apparently couldn't stand losing so much that most stopped playing competetive ladder games. Blizzard's solution: don't display losses. At all. Now everyone's essentially a winner.

Which is a load of bollocks. People should not be encouraging this sort of pitiful behaviour while directly driving the industry backwards.

We're driving the industry backwards by keeping people from bickering at each other over loss counts in a virtual competition?

News to me.

I don't think the majority of games are trying that but of course games would be easier now then back then when there was only one attack in each game.

Good article, you presented your points well. Thou this isn't a problem in just games, movies do this a lot too, look at Karate Kid about a month of practice and the kid manages to win a open tournament. I find a lot of movies cater to this idea, you just need to learn that one special skill(it's believing in yourself by the way) and your golden.

I thought this might be relevant :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1A-Ymf1VYY

Hmm.. do you think this has anything to do with more games being offered to "casual gamers" as opposed to a long-term playing, higher-skilled crowd? I know games like Little Big Planet do very little to penalize you for getting yourself killed - Whoops! Back to the ship with you, and try again! Even thinking of simple flash games like Bejewelled and whatnot... they tell you you're awesome, no matter what. Heh, Tetris on Facebook... when I don't beat my own high score but still manage to finish, what do I get?: You Win!

lord.jeff:
Good article, you presented your points well. Thou this isn't a problem in just games, movies do this a lot too, look at Karate Kid about a month of practice and the kid manages to win a open tournament. I find a lot of movies cater to this idea, you just need to learn that one special skill(it's believing in yourself by the way) and your golden.

Those movies tell you that all you have to do is find that secret magic gift inside you and everything will be super from now on. Pffff.

Yes, Epic Yarn and Farmville are not insanely hard.

Great read.

-'The problem is, feeling accomplishment from relatively easy challenges makes us give up more quickly in a situation in which we have to expend a real amount of effort.'-

Never thought of that. I like to play some indie arcade games from XBL... some of them can be really demanding. I still enjoy them tho.

lives systems can go to hell but I agree that a sense of loss should still be a motivating factor in games. I felt no accomplishment beating Epic Yarn, it was the weakest "you saved the world" feeling I've ever had...

I don't mind. I'd rather play an easy game than a frustrating one. I don't play games for stress.

And yeah, the older games are hard as hell, and there's no way in hell that I can invest that much time and money into a game that drives me to the wall.

In multiplayer, whenever you try to make make a game easier for newer players, to level the playing field, it is always the more experienced and better players who are able to use these buffs to better effect and totally break the game.

It can work if people are rewarded for playing whether they win or lose. Say, the loser gets one quantum of reward and the winner gets two. In effect, two losses equal one win. This keeps losers coming back, and the reward of victory is still sweet.

It reminds me of an article I read somewhere a while back. It focused on WoW as an example and talked about games' effects on motivation IRL. It basically said in conclusion, "it's not the end of the world, but it may lead to a generation of Starbucks baristas who could have done so much more." The whole article was actually really good and I think it's true. When your sense of accomplishment in life is supplied artificially through games, it's possible your greatest ambition could be to just make enough money to support that hobby. Whereas before, a person's desire for a sense of accomplishment might have led them to pursue more fulfilling or profitable vocations. It's true that there are always other factors conspiring to rob people of their motivation to work hard, but games by their very design fill (to an extent) a certain psychological need. It's part of what makes them so compelling. I think recognizing this is important.

This is why I like having difficultly settings. For those who want a easy time or to just enjoy the story or whatever there's easy. And for those who want hell there's hard and whatever else comes after that.

Reliq:
I thought this might be relevant :)

Heh, funny. Kinda weird to me though because some people actually do rage that much at achievements. I personally don't mind 'em because I've never met someone who was a douche about them or acted superior because of it. My friends and I don't mention scores, we just ask if anyone did such-and-such achievement and maybe ask how; it's not a big deal. Indeed, by using them everywhere, they devalued them to a point where no one should care, aside from the extra-hard ones. So no real reason to rage, unless someone secretly really cares and tries too hard to hide it by "hating" them :P

Mentioned in the article, but deserving of more time, is that games are a symptom of this attitude, not the cause. For a lot of reasons, society in general seems to have basically just stopped trying. Difficulty is no longer a challenge to surmount, but an excuse to just walk away. I see it every day in otherwise hugely intelligent students (soon to be in the medical professions no less!) who just outright refuse to learn new things. Better to just have someone else do it for them. Why? Well maybe, as suggested here, that it's a fear of failure. "I might not do it right, so I'll just let the expert do it instead." This snowballs until I have graduate students and medical residents who won't even learn (not don't know, but won't learn) how to reboot a computer. (Yes, true story. Happened last week.)

In games, this is reflected by a removal of failure, even any negativity at all. Instead, "difficulty" is limited to over-the-top celebrations of the concept like I Wanna Be the Guy. That doesn't help anyone.

Reminds me of the time when Bioware patched the easy mode in Dragon Age: Origins to be easier, and people still complained it's too tough.
Also, I think this is relevant:


I wish more games were like Contra 4. I especially like how after beating the third to last boss, if you're playing on easy, the game basically tells you to grow a pair and come back on a proper difficulty level if you want to see the ending. And then it boots you to the main menu.

Hammeroj:

jamie1000001:
Example of this? I haven't really noticed games giving players more praise tbh.

Starcraft 2. People apparently couldn't stand losing so much that most stopped playing competetive ladder games. Blizzard's solution: don't display losses. At all. Now everyone's essentially a winner.

Which is a load of bollocks. People should not be encouraging this sort of pitiful behaviour while directly driving the industry backwards.

I experienced plenty of frustration with the last level in Starcraft 2. I find it easier when the last level is limited to flyers than with ground units and nydus worms.

Seieko Pherdo:
This is why I like having difficultly settings. For those who want a easy time or to just enjoy the story or whatever there's easy. And for those who want hell there's hard and whatever else comes after that.

I agree completely. More skilled players shouldn't have to sacrifice a challenge just so that more people can play a game - but lesser-skilled players (or those who simply don't feel like wrestling with the learning curve) should be able to enjoy themselves, too.

Innegativeion:

We're driving the industry backwards by keeping people from bickering at each other over loss counts in a virtual competition?

News to me.

No, by depriving the people who are in any way serious about the competetive aspect of the game of information. In no way does this push the industry forward.

Furthermore, it matters not whether the competition is virtual or not. It's just as valid as any other, especially when there's quite a proffessional scene for it out there.

samaugsch:
I experienced plenty of frustration with the last level in Starcraft 2. I find it easier when the last level is limited to flyers than with ground units and nydus worms.

Oh I feel ya.

Have you been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

very good article. there is a general sense of not bothering. however i dont think games are the cause, rather they adjust for what is happening. a lot of games i play nowadays are much easier than same genre games used to be 10 years ago. i dont consider myself hardcore gamer, or skileld one for that matter, but i started to stop feeling a challenge in games like deadspace or stalker whne i remmeber how much fun i did trying to beat mafia with 0 health loss or far cry 1. not to mention settlers series that went from "seriuos strategy" to "for 8 years old and less".

Games weren't hard though because they wanted to challenge us. they were hard cause most of them were of that arcade mold where there were lives and coins to push into a machine. Some games were artificially made harder just for this reason (battle toads is actually easier in it's Japanese release) and we mustn't forget that mario brothers 2 was switched out with another game just because it was more of the same but harder (although the other game it switched with was no walk in the park either).

For me personally though I think games need a sort of balance. When games like to be difficult they usually aren't fun unless you are good at them which isn't really a selling point if your like me who wants to enter the RTS field only to find the field is wretched and mean. It's also a matter of aesthetic. If the game your playing has a really nice look to it. You get to do cool things like fly around and destroy stuff with ease. Or you can just plain skip parts that are just a little too hard. that would make it easier to slip difficulty in games cause I have to be honest. Young players just aren't good at playing games. All this talk about games being too easy and I haven't seen a single kid alive who can ace an lego game level.

Hell the players on little big planet seem absolutely deficient.

Easy and hard are just so vague a term when fun doesn't equate to either of them.

Since when has Kirby ever been hard?

In my time games used to frustrate! They used to challenge! They used to be good, not like this modern, newfangled "games for everyone" nonsense! They don't make games like they used to, no sir. Oh, those were the days, when you could spend days trying to get past a stage, and if you died you had to do it all over again from start.

It's games like Mass Effect and Portal are ruining our youth with their easy-peasy challenges and their save points and their achievements and... Bah! Get off my lawn you casuals! And don't come back until you've played a REAL game!

/sarcasm

Now, to add my 2 cents to the academic issue: This is a bunch of nonsense. Or, to put it more politely, it's classic generation-gap misunderstanding leading to one side saying nasty things about the other (in this case that today's youth is apparently too lazy and complacent, and too pansy to have their ego challenged to boot).

I'm willing to admit games are not quite as punishing as they were before, but since when has that been a bad thing? Games have been growing steadily more popular and more widespread in popular culture, so games becoming less punishing certainly hasn't crippled their development, their sales or even their cultural influence.

And the challenging games are still out there. Super Meat Boy, Spelunker, Demon's Souls too many multiplayer games to mention. And they still get a fair bit of attention and sales. They may not be the big games in the yard anymore, but there's clearly still an audience there, and developers willing to carter to it.

Difficult games are not for everyone. This was true back then, and is still true now. The hardcore challenge seekers have always been a niche, a vocal and influential nice, but still just that. Niche. NOT THE MAJORITY. There is a small group of bikers that are hardcore and ride 5 miles every day, but nobody is saying that every biker should be hardcore, that every bike rider needs to put in as much effort in their sport/transport as the hardcore crowd. So why should the games industry carter to this small market?

Oh, and children being bored in class is, quite frankly, not a new phenomenon. Trust me on that one.

Sort version: Difficult games are a niche, not the golden standard of gaming. And this new generation won't be any better or any worse than the one before. Deal with it.

Fable series every sequel is easier than its predecessor

Nice to see this traditional puritan model for motivation is managing to worm its way into the gaming community; it brings me no end of pleasure to know that we will always have people telling us that the only way to be successful is to be frustrated and miserable.

MaximillionMiles:
In my time games used to frustrate! They used to challenge! They used to be good, not like this modern, newfangled "games for everyone" nonsense! They don't make games like they used to, no sir. Oh, those were the days, when you could spend days trying to get past a stage, and if you died you had to do it all over again from start.

It's games like Mass Effect and Portal are ruining our youth with their easy-peasy challenges and their save points and their achievements and... Bah! Get off my lawn you casuals! And don't come back until you've played a REAL game!

/sarcasm

Drop the "/sarcasm" and you're good.
But seriously, we need both kinds of games. The problem isn't that there is so many easy games, but that there's so few hard games. Some of us need our punishment fix.

Hmm This rings with something I read a few years ago in a danish newspaper.

A little background: The danish system of teaching to some degree attempts to make learning a game. This would show in different ways but the one I remember best was "Reading Weeks" (weeks might be wrong... could be month) which basically work in the way that you got a score. Every book you read earned you a points and there was a sort of leader board (no reward if I remember correctly at least not beyond winning) with different "leagues" based on the difficulty of the books. The system was also set heavily in favour of getting everyone to the same level of education. There was some advanced placement courses (which just meant you were offered more lessons) for smarter students. So everyone would get a good basic education. And the system works. For the most part. And this is where the article comes in.

It spoke of a boy who was a trouble kid. He was disruptive in class and had a hard time sitting still and concentrating. Teachers and school nurses suspected he had ADD or some similar condition. So he was tested and indeed he had many of the symptoms for ADD but not to such an extent that a clear diagnosis could be reached. On the advice of a specialist they also tested his intelligence. The boy was thought to be average, maybe even a bit bellow. It turned out he was not. He was highly intelligent. Not enough to warrant extra classes but close. It turned out that his bad behaviour had not come from frustration but from boredom. The normal classes were not enough to challenge him. On an impulse they also tested the mother of the kid and lo and behold she showed the same gifts. She also remembered have had similar problems as the kid in school and as him had been branded a problem child.

So how does this pertain to this matter? Well for this connection I have to move onto myself. I remember having similar problems in school. Most of my school time (at least in "Folkeskolen" - the first 10 years of a childes education in Denmark) was spent looking out the window (or at least a lot of the time). Anything and everything I was presented with came easy to me. Nothing really challenged me. So I grew lazy and complacent. This all continued all the way up till the time I went to university. Here I suddenly meet challenges for real... and I crashed and burned completely. I had not developed the determination and grit necessary to soldier through. So me with my towering intellect was left in the dust while my friends went on to get their bachelors and masters degrees (one was even encouraged to try for Phd. He didn't though).

I see the danger of this happening to others as an effect of easy games but also because of the drive towards gamification. We are walking on unexplored ground here and I fear there may be sink holes.

Somewhat on topic I came back to WoW post cataclysm after not playing since Burning Crusade. My gawd did they "streamline" the early game. This isnt a bad thing but they also took 100% of the challenge out of the instances.

They appear to be diablo like zerg fests where you just mash your buttons and you win if you have good enough gear.

I'm going to miss the strategic CC and tanking where one uncontrolled mob caused a wipe and aggro management actually mattered.

In my opinion flattening the learning curve is a good thing, but not to the point where there isn't a noticeable difference between an expert and a novice. Instead there should be a gentle, skippable ramp up to a high degree of difficulty.

Making learning not boring is one reason Portal is such a good game.

NickFury90:
Since when has Kirby ever been hard?

I knew there was a reason I never played any of those games. ;)

Llil:

MaximillionMiles:
I snip myself!

Drop the "/sarcasm" and you're good.
But seriously, we need both kinds of games. The problem isn't that there is so many easy games, but that there's so few hard games. Some of us need our punishment fix.

I agree that both kinds of games have a right to exist, and a world without those exceptionally challenging games would be a duller one. But as I said before, hardcore gamers are a niche. A relatively small group. Not the majority.

What do you want? That the developers focus most of their efforts on a small group while ignoring larger and more profitable markets? Sorry, not going to happen. In a way, I recognize this is unfair, I happen to enjoy bizarre and original games and there's certainly not a big market there. But that doesn't entitle me to say all games should be bizarre and original and carter to my tastes (as wonderful as that would be to me on a personal level).

I purchased Kirby: Epic Yarn this Sunday because I love playing Kirby games. I don't care if this game is easy, all that matters to me is how the game is. Difficult or not. That's how I am with all my games.

MaximillionMiles:
snip

But the more profitable markets, those other people, they're not... me.
I'm just bitter, because I feel I'm being horribly underestimated, that's all.

Nathaniel Edwards:
Too Much Success

Everyone likes to succeed, but games may be trying a bit too hard to make every player feel like a winner.

Read Full Article

On an individual level, I agree with you. Fact is, each person has a "reward threshold"--an amount of praise they're just fine with. Coincidentally, they also have an "effort threshold"--a maximum amount of effort they're comfortable (important word) putting out. How these two interact are what determine a person's motivation.

For instance, it doesn't matter how high a reward you offer, most people aren't going to bother trying to lift a building by hand. Too much effort, so they know they're not going to get the reward anyway. You've exceeded their effort threshold.

Now, trying to lift and carry something very large? Yeah, it's more effort than I'm comfortable with, so I'm not going to do it for some pat-on-the-back reward. If you offer me a larger reward, I might consider it. But let's say you offer me a reward of $100 to lift this heavy thing... but I know that I can get $60 for lifting a much lighter thing. Well, for minimal effort I can get $60, and maybe that's okay by me. I've met my "reward threshold," so there's no need to put in the extra effort.

When we over-praise, that's what we're doing. We're reaching the reward threshold before we get to a place where we can push that person's effort threshold. (This is also why we tend to pay people after the job is done, in a sense. They'll be less likely to do minimal work if they feel it could diminish their pay.) This happens a lot in schools.

Little Johnny has a problem hitting people. His parents won't do anything to get him to stop, citing they "just don't know what to do." In desperation, the school offers an incentive--every week Johnny doesn't hit anyone, he gets a candy bar. Prior to this, school was about learning and gaining skills, so that you can maybe succeed in life... but that's too much effort, and we've just distracted Johnny with a more immediate reward. So now, school is about "not hitting anyone." And one day, we stop the candy bars and he continues his "not hitting people," right?

Why? It's better for him to keep this reward structure in place by struggling just enough that you can't end it. You've permanently handicapped his motivation by over-praising. (The other thing we tend to do in schools is reward effort, instead of rewarding achievement. We should always try to praise effort, but we should only reward achievement.)

____

Now that I've gone too long on that, it's time to talk about the flip side. On the other extreme, our society bases too much on competition. We act as though it should be a universal motivator, appealing to the competitive spirit in all of us. Except not all of us have it, and those that do not to the same degree. Again, think back to school. Did you ever have spelling bees in class, maybe in 4th/5th grade? I did.

And everyone learned real quick who the handful of folks were that would be winners. Everyone else? They were just putting off the inevitable. As long as Kid A was just 1% better than Kid B, Kid A was going to win. After awhile, Kid B learns this and doesn't take much interest in the competition.

See, competition only motivates the top 10% of any given group. That's because competition produces one winner and many, many losers. Furthermore, not being "the winner" essentially invalidates all the effort and achievement that went into competing--you lost, whether you lost by one point or one-hundred.

What's the point of all this garbage? What does any of that have to do with the article or thread? It's a bit abstract, I know, but I feel that sometimes we confuse "Person not motivated by competition" with "Person who wants to be rewarded for nothing." These are two extremes, and (as usual) the truth lies somewhere in between.

Video games are going through a sort of "adolescence." We're swinging from one extreme (hardcore, competitive focus) to the other (gentle, rewarding effort). While I agree that the issue you're talking about is problematic, I would caution against over-compensating by swinging to the other extreme.

After all, one of the defining features of most extreme positions is that the think of themselves as "the middle."

Difficulty settings would solve all of those problems, yet too few developers seem to have the patience to add that. It really doesn't take too much, just make the AI damage more or something; seems to work for Minecraft.
Many indie games seem to keep the traditional difficulty, though, so there's that.

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