Thursday, March 22, 2018

Winning Winning Winning in Games

DQ Film Advisor And Nicest Guy In The World Ben Ormand sent me an e-mail recently.

This is always a good thing.

Here's an excerpt (in reference to something I wrote a few weeks ago): 
I had a thought about the difference between gaming when I was a kid and gaming today.  It's something I think about a lot when I listen to / watch my kids becoming gamers raised on things like Fortnight and COD:WWII, especially my youngest.  

Gaming used to be about a sense of accomplishment, a sense of satisfaction for finishing, like reaching the end of a good book.  Now I think gaming has become much more about winning, about outlasting, about becoming the mythical Best.  

Eli 16.8 plays Fortnite (Battle Royale version) a bit. I've played a few rounds, and watched him play quite a few more.

Here's the Wikipedia description:
As a battle royale game, Fortnite Battle Royale features up to 100 players, alone or in small squads, attempting to be the last player alive by killing other players or evading them, while staying within a constantly shrinking safe zone to prevent taking lethal damage from being outside it. Players must scavenge for weapons and armor to gain the upper hand on their opponents. The game adds the construction element from Fortnite; players can break down most objects in the game world to gain resources they can use to build fortifications as part of their strategy.

It's an incredibly clever game design, particularly because it accommodates everyone's play style. You can go completely aggro, or turtle, or anywhere in-between, and you can still be successful (up to a point). Plus, there's a counter that always shows you how many players are left in the round, so even as you cower in a shed somewhere, someone else is getting taken out, and you're having a "winning" moment while you hide.

Plus, the rounds only last (at most) around 15 minutes, and if you die early, you can hop back into a new round within 60 seconds of your death.

What this game design focuses on, to an incredible degree, are winning moments. That counter going down feels like a win every time. Even if you're an awful player, you only have one death moment, and you'll have many more players go out before you.

Even when you lose, you feel like you won.

It's all about winning, to an incredibly compressed degree, and that speaks to Ben's point. Games today, particularly the most popular ones, are all designed to give you the drip-drip-drip of victory. Hell, the entire genre of battle royale games seem to exist solely to give players that feeling.

When I played Ultima IV (back in the sixteenth century), I played for hours where not that much happened, really. Then I'd suddenly find a ship, when I didn't even know the game had ships. One night, around 2 a.m., behind a castle, I found a balloon.

I played until dawn because I found a balloon.

I played games mostly because I loved the exploration, and finding cool things didn't feel like winning, it felt like revealing. I was revealing the game, and searching would make it unfold it in front of me.

It was wonderful, and it wasn't competitive in the slightest. If I wanted to compete--and often I did--I'd play a sports game.

Now, though, these games have all become sports games, or at least, they evoke sports games, because there are winners and losers. Unlike sports games, though, there are many more winners than losers, because the game is tuned to produce as many winners as possible.

Everything plays to our egos now.

I think I'm going to keep exploring this on Monday, talking about how this ties into media consumption in general. Or not, because by Monday there may be three other rabbit holes I'm peering down.

Site Meter