Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Play to win" vs "Play for fun"

New permanent page! You can comment it under this post.

And some fun today from Tol Barad by Qanik from our guild:


Andru said...

Incidentally, fun fact.

The clip you linked was not the original one, and was later edited to a 'cheap' revolver shot.

Before, Indiana Jones did the 'fun' fighting with his whip.

Guess, sometimes, the 'cool' that derives from 'winning' is better than the 'fun' gotten from fighting fair.

Rodos said...

I think there's more to being a scrub than valuing being liked over winning. For many, it comes down to the not-so-old saying "If at first you don't succeed, redefine success."

If you say (and believe) "I don't play to win, I play for fun", then you can never lose! Fun is subjective, so nobody can point at you and call you a loser for not having fun, because you can simply turn around and assert that you are, in fact, enjoying yourself.

The trouble is when the different definitions of success come into conflict. The M&S pet collector does not have a negative impact on your play, so long as he is not in your raid, or battleground.

Grim said...

What exactly are you trying to say with this? That winning requires playing in a less fun way?

Well... thank you, captain Obvious.

Or are you still trying to claim that people playing for fun are morons?

This reminded me of how a friend wanted to practice against a Protoss two-gate rush without using the same.
At that point a two-gate rush was practically undefendable (it was beta) so I owned him like 20 times in a row... and was bored as all hell. Did not get any satisfaction from the process. Did not improve my game in any way. In fact I pretty much just threw a couple of hours of my life away.

But, hey - I spent that time winning! Shouldn't that make me feel awesome? Or perhaps winning can be completely lame when sufficiently cheap tactics are employed and there is no significant reward for winning?

Gevlon said...

@Rodos: fun is NOT subjective. Otherwise companies couldn't make "fun" games. Every social considers the same things fun: collecting stuff to show off and pwning peers.

@Grim: yes, playing for fun is moronic. You did waste your time because proving that two-gate rush is undefendable wasn't your point. Your friend WANTED you to do it. You were his bot servant, you just did what was told. That's not winning.

Anonymous said...

"Every social considers the same things fun: collecting stuff to show off and pwning peers."

Isn't that what you find fun too? Why else collect all that pointless in-game gold, or compete for achievements for your guild?

Anonymous said...

The other day in Tol Barad someone commented: "I wish there was a scorebord here", to which I replied: "There is. It says- the Horde has successfully defended." (We're alliance).

I wonder would the removal of scoreboards in battlegrounds help weeding out HK farmers.

Of all the (random) battlegrounds I played last week, only one was lost due to Horde team being better geared (they killed a person in time it takes to cast nourish). All the others were lost because of "play for fun" people. And I simply cannot understand what's fun in losing game after game.

And it's not rare to see on /bg chat even before the battle starts: Let's lose fast.
Why o why do they even join if they plan to lose?

Anonymous said...

@spinksville: There's a "PS" at the bottom of the post, with a link in it. It will directly lead you to the answer of your question.

Grim said...

So... its the motivation for winning that matters? What? That doesn't make any sense - winning is winning, right?

I've used two-gate rush in ladder games successfully a few times and it felt exactly the same - no enjoyment, no personal improvement, just the "you win - +20 rating points" message. So I stopped doing that.

Imagine that Blizzard just said "screw the pretenses!" and gave mages a button that instakills any other player. Then imagine that the community would pretty much outcast mages because of this and any mage would see little more than /spit emotes.

Would you roll a mage and 1-button to the top of the PvP ladder? Would you see any point to doing that?

Sirlin himself mentioned a character in some fighting game that was banned (soft banned in some places - as in people just kinda agreed not to use it) because it was... well... cheap. Sure one might argue at what point does it really break the game and when a ban is necessary and when what is justified and so on and so forth, but the basic principle remains the same:
Using the winning character all the time was not fun, so they didn't use it.

Where is the line where using a winning move becomes boring enough to not use it? How can anyone claim that he knows exactly where the line is and any other take on where it should be is moronic?

Fun is innately subjective. Therefore so is the margin.

Andru said...


If a method for winning is proved as being overpowered and the designers have no intention of ever changing it, then it is a bad game, and you should find another, or you risk being the only one playing that game.

I'm not even sure you read Sirlin's book, you seem to be talking out of your butt most of the time. He does mention the depth of the game at several points, and well as the conditions when playing to 'not win' is opportune.

"Would you roll a mage and 1-button to the top of the PvP ladder? Would you see any point to doing that?"

Yes, because everyone who wants to win would play mage, therefore ending up with mageVSmage fights at the top. In this case the game can be balanced, albeit shallow, or completely destroyed, and about as much 'fun' as a coin flipping contest.

But like I said, pick up and read the book instead.

Grim said...

I have not read the whole book, but then I'm not basing my argument on it. I just used the example of how using the winning move can spoil an otherwise good game to show that the "Playing to win" side does that as well.

Ad hominem "arguments" aside, If I like 95% of a game, dislike cheap moves that make up the last 5% and there is a large community sharing my views, then what reason is there for me to switch to another game?

Also, I'm at a loss as to why you would use the 1-button-mage when in your own words:
"the game can be balanced, albeit shallow, or completely destroyed, and about as much 'fun' as a coin flipping contest"

So when the options are:
a) Leave game
b) Compete for top spots in balanced 1-button gameplay
c) Play a diverse game that is balanced when 1-button-mages are excluded

You suggest that A should be the right choice at first and then go on to say that you would pick B.

Given that there are no rewards beyond ingame titles for winning, I really don't see how is option B better than C.

In fact, B kinda seems like a downright moronic choice... but then, calling the opposition names doesn't really constitute an argument, does it?

P.S. Just in case my original point is lost in all the intricacies - all I claim is that it does not take a moron to forfeit formal victory in a game, in order to have more fun while playing it.

Gevlon said...

@Grim: If there is a large community sharing your views, then the community will place the "cheap" move on ban.

The community has this right, not you. There is a good chance that the game is already OK, just you don't know how to counter that 1-button move because you suck.

If everyone agrees you that it's undefendable, making the game 1 button mage vs 1 button mage matches, than THEY will act. You cannot, just like you are not entitled to change the laws of your country, the congress is.

Qirzix said...

I am reminded of Fansy the bard on the Sullon Zek server of original Everquest.

Sullon Zek was created as a no-rules PvP server where one could kill anyone not in one's faction (Good, Neutral, or Evil) no matter what their level. Only newbie characters (level 5 and under IIRC) were safe. Any method of killing, outside of outright hacking, was allowable. Camping, unfair ganking, training hostile mobs onto resting players, all was allowed under the rules of the server.

So Fansy the bard got to level 5, the safe level, and would use a movement-buff that his class had to train high-level mobs onto players not on his team, thereby slaughtering them without them being able to cast a single hurtful spell on him.

He was effective as hell. He was also reviled by the Evil and Neutral community and called all kinds of awful names. And eventually, alas, the GMs caved and the rules of the server were changed so that newbies lost their immunity if they stepped out of their newbie zone. Alas.

Samus said...

I think you need to do more research on counterculture/hipsters, and how they deal with status and what is "cool."

They can't get a good job, so how do they react? Do they try harder and get a better job? No. They decide that anyone with a good job is a "corporate sellout."

They can't afford decent stuff (thanks to their crappy job), so how do they react? They call new stuff "lame," and old crappy stuff is "cool."

In all cases, it is easier to simply declare what you can get without trying to be "cool," and the things which take a lot of hard work as "lame." Of course, now they can never try or improve, because they have declared those things as "uncool."

Why doesn't he have enchants? Only no-lifers have enchants!!! Now, he can never get enchants, that would make him uncool.

Nielas said...

The key is to know which 'game' you are playing. The 'scrubs' will try to play a game by a different set of rules than the official ones and seem surprised when others beat them by utilizing the actual rules.

There is nothing wrong with playing with a set of 'fun' rules but you have to make sure that everyone else wants to play by those rules.

Gevlon's "blue gear" raiding projectchanged the rules to make things more interesting (ie fun) but made sure that everyone who participated agreed to those rules beforehand.

MMORPGs have the problem of usually ambiguous victory conditions or multiple contradictory victory conditions. People who do not find one victory condition stimulating anymore will often find themselves in conflict with those who try to stick to those victory conditions. Often neither side is really polite about it.

Jim said...

"Fun is NOT subjective"

This is simply not true. A few weeks ago I played my six year old nephew in a couple of games of tic tac toe. I never lost and only tied once or twice. I dominated him. Last weekend I got to play a few games of chess against a fairly high level grandmaster. Though I lost all three games against him they were all fairly close and competitive.

Which do you think was more fun?

Bristal said...

Gevlon, it seems like you are arguing against, and/or trying to cure, DIVERSITY.

Scrubs, M&S, Hipsters, whatever you call them this week, are OTHERS, different from you. You may think you understand "them", and believe that they could be like you if they JUST TRIED, but you don't, and they won't.

Diversity means there will be people you don't understand. Hasn't this world fought enough wars against intolerance?

Yes, people create their own "cool" or "uncool" to fit their circumstances and create a sense of group bonding and exclusivity.

Kind of like, I don't know, gamers?

In my day, sonny, we nerds were exclusive and unpopular enough that we stuck together against intolerance.

Now even gamer-geeks apparently have their own subculture of radicals that just won't do it "right". Maybe we should superglue their lockers shut?

Fun is not subjective? Are you high?

That's maybe the most ego-centric thing I've seen you write, Gevlon.

Azuriel said...

fun is NOT subjective. Otherwise companies couldn't make "fun" games.

Are you arguing that fun is objective? You have to be. If fun is objective, why would game companies make "unfun" games? Go to any toy store and look at the racks and racks of garbage games. Why are they garbage when fun is objective? Are you seriously arguing that if I like Game X and you do not, that one of us is a scrub who doesn't like winning? Do you not understand two people could have two different "victory conditions" or value outcomes differently?

Fun is subjective. Companies can make "fun" games because people are eager to say what they find fun, and then companies make games around that. A person who finds The Sims fun is not likely to also enjoy Counter-Strike. If fun was objective, there would be no accounting for differing tastes... unless you subscribe to the equally outlandish follow-up claim that anyone who believes differently is a scrub.

Look. Winning and fun have a correlation, not causation. You acknowledged this already when you came out and said that you will never beat Sinestra while she is relevant content. If you are not beating the last boss of the game (such as it is), then you are not winning, ergo you are a scrub by your own argument. And yet you are proud of your WoWProgress number. How can that be? You found fun and a sense of accomplishment by redefining what it means to "win" the PvE game, with the tacit acknowledgement that you are a bad player compared to those above you.

Are there truly terrible players rationalizing away their terribleness in TB, like your "I don't care for enchants" example? Sure. But he is only terrible if he sets himself up for failure by having the same goals and motivations as you. If he just wants to kill some people more undergeared than he is, the winning or losing of TB is irrelevant.

I queue up for TB on my alts because it grants ~300 honor even on a loss. Winning is great (twice as much honor), but it is not great enough that I will not take the opportunity to go chase down a rogue at 20% HP outside the base, or kite 2-3 DPS across mid-field on my healer, or any of the myriad of things I find amusing and fun in PvP - I don't raid Argaloth and don't do the dailies typically. I have zero responsibility to my faction's team; I did not pick them, I do not owe them anything. Pushing yourself to 100% effort to win and then losing anyway is more crushing than just doing your own thing.

P.S. "Cheap" methods of winning are generally a sign of bad game design. I think most people are willing to accept defeat at the hands of a more skilled opponent, but there is a tendency for the more skilled to also gravitate towards the more powerful/less balanced classes/tactics/moves/etc. In other words, there are more things for the skill to be disguised as in a lot of games. If someone crushes you in Chess, for example, there is nothing to hide behind. Then again, any moron can use the Siberian Sweep and win inside the opening 3-4 moves, which is probably why so few people use that opening.

typhoonandrew said...

I enjoy the game when played my way, seek to minimise contact with people who play differently, and play my way as much as possible.

Frankly I only care what another person defines as "the game" when I have to interact with them.

On a scale between a M&S and Gevlon where you sit will always be subjective. Accept it or ignore it, and move on. Doing anything else just creates trolls.

I don't really understand why the comments about M&S still need a reaction when the default perspective is clearly understood ... unless that reation forms part of your entertainment / winning conditions / therapy. And if so, what on earth would be seen as optimal?

Anonymous said...

@ Jim: Nobody would find fun in battling a child in Tic Tac Toe. Fun is objective. Overcoming a challenge in a game is fun. Facerolling enemies only makes you sleepy. Muramasa: The Demon Blade. Fun game, great story. But I play that for a while and I fall asleep playing. Thank you for proving Gevlon's point further, I am sure he appreciates it.

Let me repeat just to be clear: Game companies make games, they design it in a way people will find fun. They need to objectively know what people will find fun.

Then what about the people who don't find such things fun?

That's a matter of taste. Fun is(must be designed) objective (objectily) within the activity. Then wether you enjoy or not that activity is another matter entirely.

2 different things, but close.

I find no fun in fishing, that's a personal taste about the activity.
However, you can't deny fishing is a fun activity if it's within your interests. Your interests can be subjective, fun can't. If you fish and every second you get a fish, it won't be fun anymore would it?

Gevlon said...

@Azuriel: a bit of correction (despite should be obvious), social fun is objective within a cultural group. He finds things "fun" if he believes that peers find him "cool" for it.

So yes, the player who finds Sims fun most probably won't find CS fun, because the previous is most likely a social female and killing people with a gun is not something that gives positive attraction to a female in our culture. However she most probably like collecting "cute" pets and maybe mounts in WoW.

Azuriel said...


Are you really arguing that playing with dolls is objectively fun to little girls? Nevermind the tomboys? Or are you making the tautological argument that within the "playing with dolls" culture group, playing with dolls is objectively fun?

Seriously, drop the indefensible "fun is objective" argument. Maybe you are using the word "objective" differently than everyone else, but an objective truth is true for everyone all the time - or more precisely, an objective truth is mind-independent. You cannot have different types of "objective fun" segmented among different groups, else the term objective loses all meaning.


If fun is a matter of personal taste, then by definition it is subjective. A lake can objectively be 60 degrees. Two people stick their feet in that lake, and the first says the water is cold and the second says the water is warm. Who is objectively right? No one. If two people cannot agree on the perception of temperature despite knowing the objective temperature, how can you possibly argue that fun is objective?

Overcoming a challenge in a game is fun. Facerolling enemies only makes you sleepy.

And yet we're getting Diablo 3, with the first two games selling millions of copies. And yet we get MMOs with daily quests, and any manner of similar time-sinks. The mere fact that different people view different things as challenging on different levels should be a clue as to the ridiculousness that is objective fun.

Gevlon said...

@Azuriel: I mean "objective" that by knowing some basic info about you (age, sex, nationality, profession) and if you are social or not, I can tell what is fun for you. A script can do it.

Dolls are "fun" because the culture says it's girly activity. Girls get dolls, other girls play with dolls, mom and dad looks at her lovingly when she plays with dolls. Again: peer pressure.

Also: if you are from Alaska, that lake is warm. If you are from Florida, it's cold.

Alkemono said...

"Are you really arguing that playing with dolls is objectively fun to little girls? Nevermind the tomboys?"
What is an objective criteria in this case? Some find it fun, some taught, that it's fun and acting to match that opinion, some find it no fun no matter what others tell. In most cases you can't even separate first and second kind without some serious study.

"Who is objectively right? No one."
Opposite, in fact, they are both right, as "cold" and "warm" is by definition are subjective criteria and therefore it is possible to have several contradicting and still right opinions on the matter.

Grim said...

You seem to forget that people are... well... people. And every other person is about as "unique" as you are, even if in ways you find insignificant and/or inconsequential. People that are in the same "group" will still be different in many ways.

I'm a social guy, age 22, Latvian, software programmer.

Can you figure out from that whether I prefer PvE or PvP in WoW? And what forms of PvE and PvP?

Whatever answer you come up with, I can present a guildie who is also a social Latvian software programmer, 20-odd years old who's opinions about having fun in WoW have fuck all to do with mine.

Anonymous said...

Gevlon while you make an interesting case their are some flaws in your argument.

Firstly, you claim that fun is not subjective, when in fact it is. we can see this purely from the fact that some people find wow fun, while others find it boring. the same could be said for reading or almost every activity.

Secondly, I don't think you explained the " play for fun" people in much detail. While you mentioned some reasons, you ignored other points as well. for example if "worgenlo"l attacks the enemy on a bridge in arathi he may be doing it because "thats where the enemies are so more action. however a reasoned pvp player might also do the same, attacking players on bridge, however he may be thinking "if i stall the enemy here I may be able to buy teammates time to capture flag more easily". on the surface they are doing the same thing but the reasoning is the key difference. The same could be said for mount collectors, some may do it to show some "really cool mount" while others may just like the difference in aesthetics it provides. Again same activity, different reasonings.

we can sum up this behavior by stating it is the different reasonings behind the actions. More specifically we could say the reason "play to win" people seem to "fail" often is the result of people deductive reasoning.

One cause for this maybe instant gratification. while it may be more beneficial to defend a bass "worgenlol" gets more action by charging reckless into the enemies, while ignoring the fact that by defending the enemies are likely to come to then. again faulty thinking patterns.

The people who collect stuff for "e-peen" can again be summed up this way. they are impressed with top guilds and see them decked in high level purple gear. they assume this is what gains them respect, so seek to upgrade their gear while ignoring alternative. They fail to realise that gear comes from a boss kill, so the gear is in fact rather irrelevant but their faulty thinking doesn't acknowledgement this,

by going deeper we can now examine what causes this behavior to manifest. trying to find a link between social thinking and performance is going to be difficult. looking at way in which seeking instant rewards overrides the ability to acknowledge the long term is something that can be looked at. so can looking at how associations are made.