This is a big source of controversy in the world of game design right now. Braid creator Jonathan Blow said Skinnerian game mechanics are a form of "exploitation." It's not that these games can't be fun. But they're designed to keep gamers subscribing during the periods when it's not fun, locking them into a repetitive slog using Skinner's manipulative system of carefully scheduled rewards.On second thought, maybe you don't want to know why.
Why would this work, when the "rewards" are just digital objects that don't actually exist? Well...
And I'll add: now I know why the treasure boxes in Assassin's Creed II are worth varying amounts of cash. (I am not a gamer, though. Promise.)
Sidebar: Chris Dahlen joins the cult of Mario.