Find me online!

twittergoogle plusemail

November 29, 2009

Being good at the right kinds of video games

I just read a really interesting article on Pixel Poppers.  It's called "Awesome by Proxy: Addicted to Fake Achievement," and it's about the mindsets of different types of video game players and what it says about what type of thinker you are.  It explains why some people (though definitely not all) play Role-Playing Games rather than action games.  It all has to do with what you're good at and what you're most comfortable with as far as challenges go.

"It turns out there are two different ways people respond to challenges. Some people see them as opportunities to perform - to demonstrate their talent or intellect. Others see them as opportunities to master - to improve their skill or knowledge.

Say you take a person with a performance orientation ("Paul") and a person with a mastery orientation ("Matt"). Give them each an easy puzzle, and they will both do well. Paul will complete it quickly and smile proudly at how well he performed. Matt will complete it quickly and be satisfied that he has mastered the skill involved.

Now give them each a difficult puzzle. Paul will jump in gamely, but it will soon become clear he cannot overcome it as impressively as he did the last one. The opportunity to show off has disappeared, and Paul will lose interest and give up. Matt, on the other hand, when stymied, will push harder. His early failure means there's still something to be learned here, and he will persevere until he does so and solves the puzzle.

While a performance orientation improves motivation for easy challenges, it drastically reduces it for difficult ones. And since most work worth doing is difficult, it is the mastery orientation that is correlated with academic and professional success, as well as self-esteem and long-term happiness."

The Doctor Professor (author of the blog) points out that Role-Playing games are much "easier" than action games because instead of the player improving, the *characters* improve their stats.  As your characters gain experience points, they get better.  But only playing and playing and playing some more an action game will get improved the results because the player has to improve.

I found this really interesting because I'm going through some of this with my video game playing.  I'm currently playing a lot of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and I'm finding that I'm having a hard time with multiplayer sometimes.  There are some games where I just can't get on track, with scores such as 3 kills and 20 deaths.  I constantly aim and fire at somebody and miss them badly, and they get me with one shot.  It can get frustrating sometimes.  Thankfully, there are other games where I actually do really well.

Meanwhile, I love role-playing games.  I do love them for the stories and for the characters, but I also do find them a lot more relaxing sometimes, just because success in the RPGs are a result of me using my brain rather than my trigger finger.  (There are obvious exceptions, such as the Elder Scrolls series, though even then the experience points your character earns does make the game itself a bit easier).

"I'm not saying that everybody needs to play on the hardest difficulties they can possibly manage and devote hours to mastering every game they touch. Few of us have that kind of time or patience, and it's better spent developing more useful skills or actually being creative or productive. I don't play on Hard all the time, or always shoot for 100% completion. And I'm certainly not telling you not to play RPGs - I play them occasionally myself now, confident that now I'm enjoying them for the characters and story and not as a source of fake achievement. What I am saying is that you should pay attention to what's going on in your head when you play these games."

Read the whole thing, along with the comments as well.  Some interesting discussion as well as a bit of disagreement too.  I know it's made me stop and think for a moment.


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.