Mar 8, 2010

the Skinner Box in your PS3

I pity young folks. Cursed with the most incredible technology, it's no surprise that they are online, or at least plugged in, more than researchers imagined possible. David Wong, in an amusing article, explains why:
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.

Why would this work, when the "rewards" are just digital objects that don't actually exist? Well...
On second thought, maybe you don't want to know why.

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.

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