What You Like and Dislike in Games

Question_mark_1 What words do we use to discuss what we like and dislike about games? The words people use in specific contexts reveals something about their relationship with that aspect of life, and this is true of games as much as anything else.

What words would you use to describe what you like or dislike in the context of:

  • Game pacing, that is, the rate at which content is added to a game  e.g. “well-paced”, “slow” or a “grind”.
  • Virtual worlds, that is, the fictional worlds of games e.g. “beautiful”, “dark”, “dull” or “immersive”.
  • Mechanics, that is, the rules and systems of games e.g. “unbalanced”, “perfectly balanced” or “quirky”
  • Compulsiveness, that is, the extent to which a game captures and holds attention in the short or long term e.g. “addictive”, “compelling” or “replayable”.
  • Any other aspect of games I’ve not mentioned

Feel free to simply describe games you are currently playing or your favourite games in whatever words you choose – I’m interested in the words we already use to describe our play experiences, any anything in this respect could be useful.

Cross-posted from ihobo.com – please leave comments there!

Fair Play?

No new post on ihobo this week as I am still hoping to foster further discussion on the notion of gamer virtues. Here are some of the questions thus far:

  • Can all the many vices I have singled out be understood solely as "fair play", or is there a sense in which terms like "camping" serve to restrict the options for play in ways that favour one player over another?
  • Is "imba" a term which can be best understood as having come to mean "efficient player", and if so is the sole virtue that players of World of Warcraft recognise mere efficiency?
  • Do any other online communities recognise virtues for their players? Do players ever say anything nice about one another, or do they just bitch about how their fellow players annoy them?

Please share your thoughts on these matters in the comments to last week's Gamer Virtues, Gamer Vices post. Thanks!

Gamer Virtues, Gamer Vices

Over on ihobo today, I ask what are the gamer virtues and vices? Here's an extract:

My first investigation in this area shows a lot of evidence of vices. Camping is used pejoratively to criticise players who gain tactical or strategic advantage by remaining in the same place, and spawn killing is a particularly reviled form of camping. Spamming, whether chat spamming or grenade spamming, denotes a criticism of players who act in overly repetitive and irritating ways. Kill stealing is a particularly unique form of "theft" in which credit for a kill is taken by another player who didn't do most of the work. Then there is griefing, the all-purpose word for describing the behaviour of a player who is obnoxiously intrusive on the play of others. All these words show that there are plenty of gamer vices. But what are the gamer virtues?

You can read the entire piece (which is quite short) over on ihobo, and please share your perspective in the comments there as I'm really interested in what people have to say about this.

Also: It's a sudden blitzkrieg of survey results ever since Facebook invaded BrainHex some time last week.

What is the Appeal of Brutal Games?

Ever wondered why people play brutal games? This is the subject I'm exploring on ihobo today, via the work of Slavoj Žižek. Here's an extract:

Žižek's claim is thus that players of brutal games do so because they would wish to be this brutal in real life, but are prevented by social norms and so forth. I get the sense that Žižek wants us to take this claim as applying to a very wide range of individuals, but of course the sales figures we see for brutal games only account for at most 5% of the market for videogames. If Žižek's explanation is to carry any force at all, we would have to conclude that the players who buy and play the brutal videogames are closet sociopaths or, at the very least, would be given the right circumstances. He may be right – it's certainly not easy to prove or disprove such a claim – but I find something about this account suspicious.

You can read the entire post over on ihobo.com.

Someone's Doing My Brain Research (ihobo)

More "this is your brain on games" stuff on ihobo today, as some researchers conduct one of the experiments I have been waiting for. Here are the highlights:

  • Players with a larger pleasure centre (nucleus accumbens) did better in the early stages of the study i.e. began learning more quickly. This suggests that a large pleasure centre increases motivation to perform (an expected result).
  • Players with a larger caudate nucleus and putamen, two key features of the striatum (the limbic system-end of the decision centre) performed better at variable priority training i.e. practising and learning different skills dynamically, within the framework of the overall goal. (This is also an expected result, but is less well studied).

Click here to read the full piece.

BrainHex Shop Now Open (BrainHex)

Cross-posted from BrainHex.com.

Thanks to Zazzle (and a little help from Corvus), we have set up some BrainHex merchandise in the new BrainHex shop. At the moment, you can buy light and dark T-shirts, a button/pin badge, stickers, a fridge magnet, a mug, a cap or a mouse mat with any of the BrainHex class icons on them. Each of the T-shirts also has the phrase associated with the class written on the back.

Many thanks to everyone who let us know they were interested in merchandise!

To comment to this post, please do so at the equivalent post on the BrainHex site.

Testosterone and Videogames (ihobo)

You can read my thoughts about testosterone and videogames over on the ihobo site today.  It builds upon some numbers I recently crunched from the BrainHex data concerning the relationship between class and gender, also up today on the BrainHex site.

By the way, I've been accused (not unjustly) of being obsessed about ranting against the industry's obsession with 3D shooters. This latest piece is an attempt to draw a line under that. No promises in this regard, but I will endeavour to try and find new topics of conversation concerning games after my annual break for the Wheel next month.

And lastly, speaking of BrainHex, this weekend we had more than 10,000 new responses - more than doubling the total so far almost overnight!