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Gamasutra - 10 Years of Behavioral Game Design with Bungie's Research Boss


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10YearsofBehavioralGameDesign withBungie'sResearchBoss
byJohnHopson[Design]

Contents
10YearsofBehavioral GameDesignwithBungie's ResearchBoss Page1 Page2 Page3

23comments
June15,2012

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Thepowerofthesetechniqueshasbeenradicallyoverstatedbyboth enthusiastsandcritics.
Whilethescienceunderlyingthesetechniquesistrueandthetechniquesdowork,theyarenotthe Philosopher'sStoneofgamedesign.Classicbehavioralpsychologyisanicesimplemodelofcertainbasic mentalprocesses,butitfallsdownwhentryingtoexplainthetotalityofhumanbehavior.There'sareason whymodernpsychologyconsistsofmorethanjustbehaviorism! Theoveremphasisonthesetechniqueshasbeenseenonbothsides.Onthe"enthusiast"side,anumber ofgamedevelopershaveassumedthatfundidn'tmattertheyjusthadtohavearewardstructure.This hasgenerallyprovenuntrue,sincetheyarecompetingagainstothergamesthatarebothfunandhavea goodrewardstructure.Goodcontingenciesarehelpfultoagame,justasgoodgraphicsorgoodmusicis helpful,butnotsufficient. Onthecriticalside,therehavebeenplentyofclaims thatreinforcementschedulesaretoopowerful,that theycompromisethewilloftheplayer.Again, reinforcementschedulesareusefulandeffective,but don'trepresentthetotalsumofhumanpsychologyor thegameexperience. Considertheuseofloyaltycardsatacoffeeshop.Itis acontingency,exactlylikethegamecontingencies coveredintheoriginalarticle.Indeed,itshouldbe morepowerfulthangamecontingenciesbecauseit providestangiblerealworldbenefits.AndyetIdon't thinkanyonewouldarguethat"buy10lattes,get1 free"ismanipulativeortoopowerfulfortheaverage persontoresist.(Thechemicalpropertiesofcaffeine notwithstanding.)

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Contingenciesalwaysexist.
NearlyacenturyafterWatsondefinedbehaviorism,it'sstillmisunderstood.Manypeopleseemtoassume thattherearenocontingenciesinagameunlessthey'reexplicitlyadded.Thisissimplywrong.Ifyou're playingagame,there'ssomethingintherethat'srewardingforyou. Itdoesn'tmatteriftherewardisintrinsic(selfexpression)orextrinsic(anachievement).Iftheplayer doesn'tfindsomethingrewardinginthegame,theydon'tplayit.Anypatterninhowthatrewardis providedisacontingencyofthesortdescribedbybehavioralpsychology.Theyexistwhetherornotthe designersareawareofthem. TheoriginalBehavioralGameDesignarticlewasfairlyclearaboutthis: "Everycomputergameisimplicitlyaskingitsplayerstoreactincertainways.Psychologycanoffera frameworkandavocabularyforunderstandingwhatwearealreadytellingourplayers." Unfortunately,manypeoplestillbelievethatcontingenciesaresomesortartificialadditive:MSGforvideo games.Thisjustisn'ttrue.Contingenciesarefundamentaltogames,somuchsothatI'mnotsureit's

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possibleforsomethingtoqualifyasa"game"withoutatleastonecontingency.

ThereisnoSkinnerBox.
Furthermore,whencriticsofthisapproachdescribegamesas SkinnerBoxes,theycompletelymissthepointoftheSkinnerBox. Thegoaloftheearlybehavioristswasnottocreateanartificial environmentwheresomenewformofmindcontrolcouldhappen

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itwastocreateasimplifiedmodeloftherealworld. Itwasanattempttounderstandlearningatafundamentallevelby creatingthesimplestpossibleoperantlearningtask:"Presslever, getfood."Likeallscientificexperiments,itwasanattemptto isolateaphenomenon,toremovedistractionsandalternative explanationsthatcouldconfusetheissuebeingstudied. ASkinnerBoxiscompletelyunnecessarytocreateoperant conditioning.Itisanexperimentaltoolforstudyingconditioning,nothingmore.Therewouldn'tbeanypoint to"puttingplayersinaSkinnerBox"!

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Comments

JamieMadigan

15Jun2012at10:21amPST

Greatarticle,andthanksfortheplug!Iagreethatbehaviorismisn'tthewayforwardfor peoplewantingtoapplypsychologytogamesoncethosebasiclessonsareapplied.Instead, I'vebeenreallyinterestedinfieldslikebehavioraleconomicsandthestudyofdecision making.There'sagoldmineofstuffonreallyfundamentaldecisionmakingthatgame designers(andmarketers)canusetoimprovetheirgame.Or,alternatively,turnitinto somekindofmoneyeatingquasigame.Buthopefullytheformer. LogintoReplyorLike 1

TravisRoss

18Jun2012at6:11pmPST

Jamie,yesItotallyagreethereisatonofstuffinbehavioral economics/decisionmakingthatcouldbeusefulforgamedesigners.Lately I'vebeenwritingmydissertationonprosocialandantisocialnormsin games.Inordertomakepredictionsabouthownormsmightapplyto gamesI'vebeenusingthegametheory/experimentaleconomicslitto explorehownormsmightbesuccessfullyharnessedbygamedevs.I'veread afewofyourarticlescoveringcooperativebehaviorandreciprocityvia experimentaleconomicsgoodstuff. LogintoReplyorLike

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MichaelDeFazio

15Jun2012at12:39pmPST

Fantasticpost(thisiswhyIloveGamasutra) JMHO:Gameswherethecoregameplaymechanicsareinlinewiththeincentive/reward structuregivemethemostenjoyment.(Shortversion:Beingskillfullatdoingthethings thegamedoesthebest(shooting,exploring,fighting,collecting,strategizing)rewardsyou

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themost) Alternatively,gameswherethereward"economy"is"broken"(orsusceptibletocheating, glitchingorboosting)canreallystealthelongtermenjoymentandreplayabilityaway. Forexample...Ilovebethesdarpgs,butIsimplycannotplaySkyrimwithout"boosting" usingtheol'smithingandenchantmentearlygameboosting.(Ialwaysfeelalittlebad

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aboutit,butknowingIcangreatlyincreasethecombateffectivenessofmycharacterby doingsome"mundane"tasksforanhourorsoalwaysoutweighsmyguilt).

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Also,IreallymissgettingXPforfindingnewlocationsinSkyrim(likeinF0:3,andOblivion). Tome,abigpartofwhatSkyrimisaboutisexploration,andIbelievetheyshouldreward playersfordoingwhatthegameisverygoodat(versesrewardingplayersforgettinghit whilewearinglightarmororheavyarmor...shouldn'tyouNOTwanttogethit?) LogintoReplyorLike 3

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RaminShokrizade

15Jun2012at1:20pmPST

Ileanmoretowardsinterpretingsimplisticgameswithextremelyrobustdatamining systemsasmoderndaySkinner'sBoxes.Ithinktheyarejustaseffectiveasmyearly researchonratstolearnabouttheneurochemicalunderpinningsofaddiction.Ie.notvery effective.SinceIswitchedtostudyinghumansingamesandaddedadditionaltrainingin behaviorialeconomics,Iammuchhappierwiththeresults.Despitealloftheinterestinthis subjectatpresent,IamnotreallysureIwanttohaveapublicdiscussionoverityet.Allof myrelatedpapersareproprietary,andtheacademicdomainexpertsthathaveassistedme haveallinsistedonanonymity.Thereisalotgoingoninthisareathatpeoplearenot talkingabout.IdopersonallyseealotofrelevanceinthediscussionofSkinner'sBoxesin thisspace,butyouhaveto"thinkoutsidethebox"toseewherethisisheading,pardonthe pun. LogintoReplyorLike 2

LuisGuimaraes Intrinsicpleasure.Intrinsic.

15Jun2012at1:46pmPST

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BartStewart

15Jun2012at1:55pmPST

I'monboardwiththegeneralconclusionhere:therearerewardstoanythingthatpeople choosetodo,soifyou'redesigningsomethingforpeopletodo,youneedtounderstandhow rewardsworkinordertodesigneffectivelyandethically. Thatsaid,Ithinkacoupleofthecriticismsofrewardawaregamedesignaretoolightly dismissedhere. Onthe"Skinnerbox"criticism,evenifplayersdon'tknowtheintentionofthatexperiment, theyseeperfectlywellhowclose"pulllever,getfood"isto"pokeNPCandspendtime runningaround,getquestrewardpellet."Thepurposeofthisinagamemaynotbeoperant conditioning.Buttheeffect,beingappliedtohumanbeings,issimilarenoughtomakethe criticismworthtakingseriously. Thelarger"it'screepy"reactiontoconsciouslyapplyingpsychologicalconceptsingamesis likewisenotgoingtobedismissedbynoting(correctly,Ithink)thatgoodethicsrequires understandinghowyou'realreadydoingit.Gamedesignersdon'tjusthaveanethical responsibilitytousereinforcementeffectivelytheyshouldbehonestwithplayersabout whatthey'redoing.Manipulationisonethinginasense,that'swhatanygoodstoryteller strivestoachieve.Butcovertmanipulationissomethingverydifferent...anduntilthatis addressedbygamepsychologistsinaforthrightway,designerswillincreasinglybecharged withdeliberatelytryingtoaddictgamers. Foronepracticalreasonwhythat'sworthdoing,justimaginecomputergamesbeing regulatedbytheequivalentoftheU.S.FoodandDrugAdministrationasanaddictive substance.Ifwarningaboutthatkindofgovernmentinterferenceinplayinggamesseems overlydramatic,Ireferyoutotoday'snewsstorythatvirtualitemtradingispotentially abouttoberestrictedinSouthKorea. (Seehttp://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/172452/Virtual_item_trading_to _be_banned_in_South_Korea.php.) Again,Iagreewiththeoverallviewshere.Designersshouldunderstandpsychological effects,notpretendtheydon'texistinanydesignedsystem.Buttheyneedtousethis knowledgetodirectlyaddressconcerns. LogintoReplyorLike 2

JohnHopson

17Jun2012at8:49pmPST

Unfortunately,I'mnotsurewecanputlistsofcontingencyingredientson thebackofthegameboxes.Thegoodnewsisthatgamesgenerallyhave lotsofcontingenciesgoingonatanyonetimeandsubtle"covert" contingencieswillgenerallybewashedoutbymoreobviouscontingencies.

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RaminShokrizade

18Jun2012at5:06pmPST

TomakeacommerciallysuccessfulFTPgameyouneedacustomer,a carrot,andagatebetweenthem.MyproblemwithAAAcompaniesisthat theydonotunderstandthegates.MyproblemwithnewcomerslikeZynga isthattheydonotunderstandthecarrot.Irealizethatmergingthetwo endsofgamedesigniscomplex,butIthinkthereasonitisnothappening fasterismoreduetoclashesinphilosophyandegoratherthanany particulartechnicalhurdles. LogintoReplyorLike

MichaelJoseph

16Jun2012at4:15amPST

Isn'titacopouttosayeverygamehasrewardsinthecontextofadiscussionaboutgames thatareconsciouslydesignedwithbehavioralpsychologicalinsightsorrealitiesinmind? Becauseyou'renotreallysayinganythingaccurateimoifyourpositionisallgamesalready dothisstuffandthiswillsimplyallowyoutodoitbetter.Tomethatis1+1=3.Because inmyview,thisisnotaboutformalizingterminologyforexistingthings.Theyareseperate things.Theverynatureofdesignchangesonceyoustartconsciouslyfollowingbehavioral psychologicalprescriptsinagame'sdesign.1+1=3. Fine.Thenlet'shearexamplesofthetypesofrewardmechanismsor"contingencies"that areok.Everyonealwaysseemtostopshortthereinthesetypesofarticles.Asdidyou... Andlet'stalkabouttheprocessofdesigningagamewithbehavioralpsychologyonthe brain.Ithinkthatcouldbequitetelling.Let'snamesomegamesthathavefullyembraced andincorporatedthisdesignmethodology?SWTOR?Whatwillthattellus?Articlesonthis topicalwaysseemtoavoidmeatandpotatoesdiscussionandstayinhypothetical&theory land. RE:"Inmypersonalview,contingenciesingamesareethicalifthedesignerbelievesthe playerwillhavemorefunbyfulfillingthecontingencythantheywouldotherwise.Youhave tobelieveinthefundamentalentertainmentvalueoftheexperiencebeforeyoucan ethicallyrewardplayersforengaginginthatexperience." and "Boththeactionsandrewardsmustbegenuinelyfunthingsforagamecontingencytobe ethical."

Ihavenoideawhatanyofthatmeans. p.s.Wouldarationalpersontruelywanttoplayagamethatwasconsciouslydesignedthis way?Ifyouthinkabouttheimplicationsofsuchagame,itshouldbequitehorrifying.I don'tthinkthesegamescaremuchforrationalbehavingfolks.

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JBVorderkunz

16Jun2012at9:37amPST

Thisisagreatarticle,buti'mstrugglingwithonepoint:theillustriousOP(andthatisn't sarcasmBTW),saysonthefirstpagethatatthetimehewrotetheoriginalgerminalarticle, rewardstructureingameswasnotwellknownorunderstood.WTF?!?Givenhis background,it'sshockingthathe'seitherdismissiveorignorantofseveralearlyworkson thesubject,particularly"MindatPlay:thePsychologyofVideoGames"(1983)byLoftus andLoftus,twoPSYCHOLOGISTS!Theyexplicitlydiscussrewardstructuresandschedulesin detail,makinganalogiestoCasinogamingetc.Plustheydiscusstheintentionalinclusionof rewardschedulingintogamesbydesigners,IN1983! Wasthatknowledgesomehowlost?Intentionallydiscarded?Whaahappen'? LogintoReplyorLike 1

JohnHopson

17Jun2012at8:16pmPST

I'dbethefirsttoadmitthattheoriginalBehavioralGameDesignarticle coveredverywellunderstoodpsychologyprinciples.Itwasprimarilya popularization,bringtheseideastoawideraudience.Icertainlydon'tclaim tobethefirsttonoticetheconnectionbetweenbehaviorismandgame design. Perhaps"controversial"wouldhavebeenabetterwordchoicethan "radical".It'sstillprettycontroversial,butmoreina"shouldwedothis"

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than"canwedothis"sense. LogintoReplyorLike 2

JBVorderkunz HeyJohnthanksfortheresponse!!!

18Jun2012at7:04amPST

I'msorryifIcameacrossasaggressiveintonereadingyourresponseand thenrereadingthefirstfewparagraphsithitmelikeatonofbricksthatof coursethingsgetsimplified/condensedforthe'layman'(evenifinthiscase the'laymen'arehighlytrainedandintelligentfolk).Iwasn'ttryingto accuseyouofintellectualdishonestyorresearchimpropriety! SoifIgetitnow:lotsofgamedesignerswereeitherutilizingorchoosingto ignoretheseprinciplesforaesthetic/philosophicalreasons,andyouwere pointingoutthatthebehavioralphenomenaareoperatingineverygame regardlessofdesignerintent,ineffectstumpingfordesignerawarenessof theirownactivities?RightOn! LogintoReplyorLike 1

MichaelJoseph

18Jun2012at6:23pmPST

RE:"andyouwerepointingoutthatthebehavioralphenomenaare operatingineverygameregardlessofdesignerintent"

By"thebehavioralphenomena"Iassumeyoumeantherewardstructures MrHopsonreferstoas"contingencies." Ithinkit'sincorrecttopromoteamodelasifitweretherealthing.People invariablybegintothinkthemodelisrealityregardlessofhowincomplete, flawed,andnarrowtherangeofapplicabilitythemodelhas.Ifyoudon't recognizeitasamodel,thenyou'llbeunawareofit'slimitations.Likewise,if you'renotawareofthemodel,thenyoulogicallycannotbeaprisonertoit unintentionally. Wouldn'tbethefirsttimethatloveforalimitedmodelofhumanbehavior hasresultedinunfortunateevents. LogintoReplyorLike 1

JoshuaOreskovich

17Jun2012at6:23pmPST

BetweenRamin,Luis,Bart,Michael(possiblyJB?)mosteverythinghasbeenraised,pointed outandasked.IwouldlovetoseerepliesoranswerstothosepostersfromtheOP.

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BruceMills

18Jun2012at9:23amPST

Thesebehavioralcontingencesthatmanygamesrelyontodayaretheirownworstenemy. Therelianceonthemiscounterproductivetothelongevityofanygameproductthatuses them.Thereasonwhycriticsquestionthemisbecausetheiroverallimpactisseenas artificiallylengtheningthegame. Partofthemainproblemofthisisduetogamesfocusingontheplayerandnotthearena thegameplayoccursin.Thisconstantrewardstructurethat'scenteredaroundtheplayer hastoinevitablycausetheplayertoburnouteventually.Developersseemtofallintothe trapofthinkingtherecanbeaneternalreturnontheirinitialdevelopmentandnothingcan befurtherfromthetruth.Thisbecomesapparentwhenbehavioralcontingenciesareused toartificiallylengthenthelifeofthegame. Developerscanonlyaddsomanyrewards,somanyareas,andincreasethepowerofthe playersofarbeforetheplayerbeginstoquestionthefutilityofitall.Theplayerwillnotkeep recyclingthecontentofthegamefora+1tolevel,100gold,orarandomlygenerated purpleitemdrop.Atsomepointtheysay:"Enough!"andmayexperienceangeratthe gameleadingthemtonothing. Thereneedstobeashiftfromusingthesecontingencies,chargingforthem,because they'remakinggameplaythatburnsoutplayersinsteadofgamesthataretruly memorable.Thisburnoutnotonlyaffectsthegame,butsometimesthewholegenre.Afew

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developersmaytapthecashcow,buttheyleaveabarrenwastelandintheirwakeforother developerstoworkin. Thiswillrequireadesignthatconcernsitselfonmakingtheworld/arenasomethingthe playerhasnoproblemgoingthroughfromthebeginning.Anarenathatisdynamicenough thattheplayerfeelsasthoughitisfamiliarbutdefinitelynotatalllikethelastrunthrough theydid.Manygameswithsandboxelementsareslowlyrealizingthis,butthefocusin makingtheplayerdoavirtualskinnerboxofconstantrewardandachievementistaking theforefrontandstiflingfurtherdevelopment. Manyofthegamesweplayaschildren,gamesthathavebeenplayedforhundredsofyears havelongevityforonemainreason:theyend.Theymovetowardsarealconclusion.These gamesdonotfurthercompoundmattersbyrecyclingcontentincessantly,becauseinthe endtheywouldbewritingachecktheirgameplaycan'tcash. LogintoReplyorLike 3

JoshuaOreskovich ThisistheanswerIwaslookingforIthink.

18Jun2012at6:42pmPST

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JeremieSinic

19Jun2012at4:19amPST

"Atsomepointtheysay:"Enough!"andmayexperienceangeratthe gameleadingthemtonothing." IwouldsaymuchlikeWylieGarvinfurtherbelow,thatDiablo2hasnever ledmetoanything(andIdon'texpectDiablo3willactuallymakeme enoughbucksforthetimespent,forthematter),andyetI'vealwayshad greatfunplayingit. Inspiteoflevelingupseveralcharacterspastlvl50,Ialwayshadagood feelingwhenlevelingup.Thenthehuntfortheultimateitemsaddseven morethrilltothewholeexperience. Nobodyshouldexpectagametoleadthemselvesto"something"imo.As longasagametrulyentertainsitsaudienceitshouldbefine.Thenadding rewardsjustmakestowholemorefun. Infact,ifthegameletmeexploreanyareaofthegamefromthe beginning,andgavemethepossibilitytostartatlevel100,Iwould probablynotbotherwiththeDiabloseriesatall,sincethewholefunisin thejourney,notthedestination.

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WylieGarvin

18Jun2012at9:58amPST

"Inmypersonalview,contingenciesingamesareethicalifthedesignerbelievestheplayer willhavemorefunbyfulfillingthecontingencythantheywouldotherwise.Youhaveto believeinthefundamentalentertainmentvalueoftheexperiencebeforeyoucanethically rewardplayersforengaginginthatexperience." Thisisagreatpoint.IwouldoffertheexampleofDiablo2.Ithasrandomlootdropswith variablerewardratios,anditwouldbeeasytoaccuseBlizzardof"Skinnerbox"design,ifnot forthefactthatthegameisgreatfuntoactuallyplay.Ihaveplayedwellover1000hours ofsingleplayerDiablo2overthepast10years(itsoneofmytopfivemostplayedgames), andyetIstillenjoystartinganewcharacterandplayingitthroughfrombeginningtoend, andtherewardofrarerandomlootdropsdoesaddsomeextraspicetotheexperience. LogintoReplyorLike 1

KlaudeThomas

30Jul2012at8:21amPST

Ifeltthatthiswasaninterestingpointandmuchintherightdirection,but unfortunatelyonethatpotentiallyproducesafacileconclusion.Omitthe word'entertainment'andconsidermorenuancedalternativesfor'fun'. Forexample "contingenciesingamesareethicalifthedesignerbelievestheplayerwill havemoresatisfactionbyfulfillingthecontingencythantheywould otherwise.Youhavetobelieveinthefundamentalvalueoftheexperience

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beforeyoucanethicallyrewardplayersforengaginginthatexperience." Tomymindproducessomethingthatactuallyspeakstoethicality,but startstoreadastautological:makingmequestionthefundamental argument.Forcontrast,substitute'profitability'for'fundamentalvalueof theexperience'.Patentlyfalse? LogintoReplyorLike

TravisRoss

18Jun2012at6:15pmPST

John,haveyoudonemuchwithcognitiveheuristics?NottheHCIkind,butthesimplerules ofthumbthatushumansusetomakefast/frugaldecisions?Thatlineofresearchmixes wellwiththeexperimentaleconomicsliteratureitmovesarationalmodelofdecision makingovertoamodelwhereindividualsdeliberateontheinformationtheyhaveavailable, butwheretheyalsomakedecisionsbasedonan"adaptivetoolbox"ofHeuristics.Thereis someinterestingstuffcomingoutofmarketing/decisionscienceresearchthatexamines onlineshopping/datingwebsites,etc.Ithinkitisinterestingbecausethereisalotof potentialapplicationtogamesthethesisbeingthatweshouldbethinkingaboutcognitive heuristicswhendesigninginformationspacesdependingonifwewanttoforcetheplayerto deliberateorallowthemtoquicklymovetopartsofthegametheymightfindmorefun. Thanksforthearticle! LogintoReplyorLike

LucianoLombardi Greatrevisitontheprevious(andnotagedatall)article.

19Jun2012at7:38amPST

Iwouldhighlighttheconceptofthesetools(behaviorism,cognitivepsychology,heuristics, decisiontheory,cognitivebias,behavioraleconomics)beingusefuladditionstomakea bettergameinsteadofbeingthecoreofthegameexperience. Agameshouldnotbedesignedusingthesetoolsasacenterandworkingyourwayout theyshouldbeusedasotherelementsinthedesignertoolboxtoincreasetheoverall enjoymentofhisgame. Itseemslikethe'glorytimes'ofgameswhosolelybasedonthesetechniques(without furtherconsiderationofanactualgameplaysystem)iscomingtoaslowend,oratleast theirexpansionandsucessisnotbeingasdauntingasbefore.AstheOPstates,thereisa strongcompetitionwithgameswhoalsohavethesetoolsapplied,buttheyarealsofunto play. However,Ibelievethereisadiffuselinebetweenseizingpsychologicalknowledgetoadd valuetoagameandusingittoexploityourusersformonetizationorreengagemnet purposes. Havingsaidthat,Ihopethatthedecelerationofinstantsuccessingameswithapplied psychologywillendupforcingdeveloperstorethinktheirstrategies:hopefullyreachingto theconclusionthattosuccedtheyneedtomakeagoodgamefirst,andthenusing psychologytoaugmentyourgame,toaddvaluetoit,tomakeitmoreenjoyablewhich wouldultimatelybenefitbothplayersanddevelopersatthesametime. (Deviatingalittlefromthemainpoint)MaybeIamalittlenaifaboutit,butIstrongly believethatthesetoolsarenotinherently'evil':theycanbeusedfordeeplyenrichening experiencesintherighthands.Itsthesameolddebateabout'gamification':seeingit appliedinspaceslikeKhanAcademyhelptoseethepotentialgoodinallofthis. LogintoReplyorLike

KlaudeThomas

30Jul2012at8:27amPST

'Agameshouldnotbedesignedusingthesetoolsasacenterandworking yourwayouttheyshouldbeusedasotherelementsinthedesigner toolboxtoincreasetheoverallenjoymentofhisgame.' Anissuewiththatlineofargumentisthat,iftrue,allgamificators (gamifiers,gamificationers?)arecharlatans.I'mfairlysuretheOPdoesn't intendtosaythat,buttheargumentspresentedcontaincontradictions.If 'fun'isrequiredtojustifythecontingencies,thenisn'titfallacioustoeven thinkaboutusingthecontingenciesforrlpurposesthatarenotfun? Resolvingtheparadoxprobablyreliesonhavingamorenuanced understandingofwhatgamesareforthansimply'entertainment'or'fun'. LogintoReplyorLike

TonioBarmadosa

29Jan2013at9:27pmPST

Problemishowdoyoudefine"fun"?Funmaybeequivalenttoachemicalin

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thebrain,likeserotoninordopamine.Whatifaddictionisnothingmore thanjustanoverdoseoffun?Havingsomuchfunthateverythingelseis totallyboringandcravingstimulationintheabsenceoffun.Thesevideo gamedesigntechniquesessentiallystimulatetherewardcentersofthe braindeliberately.Theyaffectthemotivationalcircuitsbydopaminerelease. It'slikecontrollednaturalselectioninanimals.Naturehasamechanismfor lifetoevolve,buthumanshavedecidedtotakecontrolofthingsas fundamentalasgenetics.Itispossibletoinfluencesuchthings.Innature, peoplemayhavegainedsomemoderateamountdopaminereleasefrom everydaysuccessesandhavingfunwitheachother.Thismadethemfeel good.Invideogames,theenvironmentisfullycontrolledandstimulationis preciselytargetedandscheduled,thustherewardeffectsinthebrainmay bemultipliedby1000timesthatofpreviousnormallevelsofincreases. Iftoomuchfunoverdosecreatesaddictionthenmaybetheethicaldesign choiceistomakegamesLESSfun,lessrewarding.Maybegamesshouldn't bethatgoodbecausethentheycreateaddictioninsomehumans.Maybe moderationshouldn'tonlybeappliedbytheplayer,butalsobythe designer! GamecompaniesonlycareabouttheprofitssoIhavenoillusionsabout designersregulatingthemselves.Theonlysolutiontothisproblemismore researchandgovernmentintervention,whichisalreadyhappeninginthe FarEastbytheway.Thegamingindustrylobbyisstrongbutitistheduty ofgovernmentstoprotectthehealthoftheircitizens.Theunregulated honeymoonperiodoftheindustrymaybesoonoveraspublicawareness increases.

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