Greedy Goblin

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Is it me, or is it the gamers?

Back in WoW, where I started blogging about my in-game focus: gold, I never considered myself very rich. Sure, I didn't have problems with repairs or buying consumables like the morons and slackers, but buying all the vanity nonsense was impossible for me (not like I wanted to). Every playing session I improved my income and blogged about it, no wonder my blog got more and more visitors and had a strong gaming focus.

In EVE I earned a titan-worth in the first 3 months of my play while most players rat anoms even years after starting. Then I earned a titan in every 2 months. Then every month. In my final months I earned one in less than 3 weeks. I couldn't reasonably spend my wealth in-game, so I spent it unreasonably, funding a blogging project for ideological reasons. I've seen some CCP report that the total in-game wealth is 3000T (if you have the link, please comment). If I didn't spend a dime on GRR, I'd still have 3T in the wallet of my abandoned account. If we assume 100K players for EVE, I have 100x more than the average player, which is pretty nice. It was also big enough to fund a project threatening enough for the largest in-game group to seek corrupted dev help against me as they couldn't fight in-game. While my business model wasn't trivial, I fully published it and still could use it for years.

I started Black Desert Online months after it started. It's a no-loss MMO, the longer you play, the more wealth you have. In 2 months I got to #1 wealth. Not "pretty nice", flat out the richest man on the server. My "business model" was simply using the industrial parts of the game instead of grinding like the masses.

You see the running theme here: in every successive game I made more and more money with less and less effort. I don't know if I got more and more proficient or the competition got worse and worse. We sure can't blame the games as nerfing would only mean that everyone gets currency easier. It wouldn't affect my position compared to the competition.

I'm afraid it's the players who got worse and worse over time. The simplest evidence is that I always posted my moneymaking methods, if I was some exceptional genius, my advantage would disappear when my secret gets out. Also, other players report pretty good results with simple tasks like WoW garrisons.

If my goal with blogging was to spread knowledge, I failed. Players are much dumber today than they were 10 years ago. It's not an old man's "back in my time men were men" nonsense. It's simply that 10 years ago mostly college educated people used computers, therefore playing video games were mostly connected you to other people with university degree. Now every Tom, Dick and Harriett uses computers so you can easily bump into someone in a video game who would never get into your sphere in the real world, like a 12 years old kid, a literal basement dweller or a housewife on welfare.

I'm not sure if there is a comeback for video gaming. I mean once upon a time TV was the entertainment for everyone, while now educated people don't even have TV sets. It's easy to imagine a future where only low class people play video games while educated people have some other form of entertainment. However there is hope, in the form of HBO/Netflix model. They are "TV" in the sense that you consume video content in your living room, but only a collection of high quality shows for (relatively) high price while the masses consume crappy shows for "free". Maybe this will happen in games too, with $100/month subscription premium games and free-to-play crap for the masses. We'll see.


Anonymous said...

Interesting post.

I think there tends to be a habit of people of an older age looking down on people younger than them for a number of different transgressions. A lot of times we don't remember what we were like at a younger age, leading us to compare our current skills to that of someone many years younger, which isn't fair or correct.

Adam Conover has a popular TV / YouTube series about debunking myths. Not too long ago he gave a lecture to a local college about the topic of generations and why they don't really exist. I found it interesting and your comments / general underlying principles of the post relate to the lecture. Here's the link if you have some spare time:

Long story short: Often we assume things of other groups of people that would have easily applied to us earlier in our lives / careers / gaming hobbies. I think this does a disservice to both you and the other group.

Antb15 said...

I've moved on to highly moddable single player games. The same thing has happened to racing games, it's a chore to race online because everyone is hopelessly bad or out to cause a wreak.

maxim said...

There is one more test you need to perform - get back in WoW and see how well you'll do. Otherwise, all of this can be explained simply by moving towards games with generally easier economies (and yes, i'm saying Eve is easier than WoW, sue me).

Not sure how you could have not failed. Well and truly educating the masses requires having a massive organisation behind you. Something like a church, or the communist party. And that requires sociality, which you flat out refuse to deal with.

As for "the educated" finding new forms of entertainment - i severely doubt that. Not only because there really is no viable tech for that on the horizon (VR? pffff), but also because the speed with which the new form of entertainment will be permeated by the "uneducated" will already prevent any such form of entertainment from being the kind of safe haven games were for us. We are more likely to see a stagnant world from here on out, where "the educated" turn to various forms of destructive escapism to escape from the reality of having to socialise with "the uneducated". All the while erecting class barriers to keep the "uneducated" out.

I prefer to just do away with this distinction altogether and adopt a more humanistic stance.

Gevlon said...

@maxim: if those games would have easier economy, then everyone would have easy currency. And yes, I start to see that social people can only be taught the social way

Anonymous said...

Your eve isk making isnt a way many players would wish to follow, not least because of the number of alts, and remember, in january, you struggled, your implant running had reached a ceiling, and you didnt have time to do your usual mining (as you stated in a post), so you had stagnated, what saved you was SP farming, most wont do that with 40+ chars.

As for myself? I have enough gold/ISK/Whatever to do what I want in any game, but it is not my,nor my friends primary motivator, even though we count as among the higher end of the "educated"...I don't care about the background of those I play with, gaming is a leveller socially.

Does that make me a moron or a slacker? It makes me someone with different motivations than you, so, probably.

Camo said...

I think the reason why those organisatios became big, is because they rely on welfare instead of trading.

It lures in those who don't have much with the promise of getting more without haveing to give up anything (charity and shared wealth).

In games it is the same. Developers realised, they are able to dumb down the challenge and make everyone the hero without having to invest much effort. It pulls in paying customers that wouldn't bother with challenging tasks but enjoy getting the easy rewards.

Edmund Nelson said...

@maxim There are games that cater to intellectuals and not the masses. But those tend to be indy games, or classic abstract games.

Some examples

Chess, Go, Auro, Axes and acres, Puerto Rico, Twilight Struggle.

None of these games are designed to appeal to the mass market, yet they appeal to the smaller crowd of "the educated"

Tithian said...

The business model changed. People are not interested any more about setting up an industrial chain and farming gold/silver when they can just open their wallet and use their disposable income to cover their immediate in-game needs. No need to plan about anything, thus no need to keep savings "for a rainy day".

Titus Tallang said...

That CCP number comes from one of the Fanfest keynotes this year - I think it might've been the main keynote. It gets used when they introduce the Palatine Keepstar.

VoD should be on CCP's youtube channel.

maxim said...

@Edmund Nelson
This has more to do with the fact that people have too much new stuff to wade through. "Educated" have the advantage of having their educators guide them straight to the good stuff and also help them come to grips with learning the new stuff.
This is not indicative of any kind of fundamental difference between "educated" and "uneducated" beyond basic lack of effort put into them by other people.

99smite said...

While I tend to share the feeling that players found online seem to get dumber and dumber (with a few exceptions), Gevlon sees games not as an entertainment or a pastime activity (spending time to relax). For Gevlon, playing a game means playing to WIN! Find some niche and excel there and collect data to prove that you do better than most and well above average.

While trading might be the most profitable income source in EVE, it is also more boring than mining Veldspar in a 1.0 system! People have different aproaches to games.

I have done some trading as well in EVE and stopped it after a while as I could not care less whether someone made more or less isk than me. I was able to run all my accounts on in-game plex, I could afford my ships and fittings and, which was the most important thing to me, I did not have to go through dozens of pages of my googledoc trading spreadsheet to find trade-worthy items.

I am a volleyball coach for my gymnastic club and believe it or not, there are matches, where my girls lose. Should I disband the team and stop coaching because we were not the best? Was the lost match a waste of time? Does every volleyball player play in order to become a member of the national team and win the world championship? No! Some do it because they like the activity, they like the exercise and they like doing it with other people. Does that make them morons & slackers? Certainly not. Are they stupid becuase they do not search for an activity in which to outdo every other person?

I think it is more important that they get exercise and volleyball practice.

And by the way, if I was enjoying going through spreadsheets that much, I would do some daytrading aside with real money and stay away from toxic icelandic corrupt games...

Destabilizator said...

Yo, a little offtopic - so you can read this comment and delete:
Did you hear/know about Albion Online? It's full loot MMO, not that different from EVE, currently in final beta (release eta 3-4 months). What I wanted to point out is that they are currently trying to come up with a system of GvG and meaningful open world PvP and similar systems - it looks to me like you may want to throw your analytics/theory skills into work there.

Unique opportunity to make up a system that would get implemented.

Thread with some discussion you can also catch ppl/devs on Discord.

Eaten by a Grue said...

I think 99smite says it pretty well. Gevlon, I feel like you are banging your head against a wall here. In a more purely competitive game with objective standings and win conditions, I think you would find more headway. But in MMOs with no real win conditions and many different ways of playing, it is like you are racing against people who do not know they are in a race. People play their own way, and a lack of effort in the game just means they are putting their effort somewhere else, either into real life or other games. There are almost no conclusions you can draw from your observations.

Gevlon said...

@Eaten by a Grue: when people grind for hours it's hard to say they put their effort elsewhere.

99smite said...

@ Gevlon: true, people who grind mindlessly for hours are the same people who walk in front of cars in search for some stupid little pokemon gp pixel monsters...
But this is exactly your point and mine too. If you have to follow an activity in a game for hours and you dont' like that activity, then I would call it a grind.

I find this an extremely annoying game mechanic in rpgs. While I can understand collecting exp to "advance", I somewhat find it boring doing the same for a "random" event, like a unique-purple-pink-superduper-mega imba item...

Ofc any sane person would spend her time otherwise and buy such items.

Btw, have you already looked at that BDO blog? ""

Fidtz said...

I don't think the players have changed in average ability , I think the games they play have changed. The argument that gamers used to be an elite sort of held true in 1996 when I started as even being able to get everything working well enough to play and paying for the phone calls etc. created a decently high bar. The idea of some Quakeworld player being unable to use the console after a week of playing would have been laughable. Since the WoW/broadband era though, the bar is low and I can't see the evidence that the average has shifted much since.

Due to lack of choice and lack of improvement in these games, the vast majority of good players have moved on from multiplayer PvE games (which includes EvE) and this creates a feedback loop of making PvE games easier and leading to more good players leaving. Player who want competition in their games now play PvP games, which have improved a lot.

League of Legends, Starcraft II, CSGO, SMITE, Overwatch etc. etc. are not easy (because you are fighting other players) and the players' dumbness in relation to the game is out there for people to see in ELO/Trueskill based ranks. Twitch has contributed too, games that work for people watching (sport-like games) now get the most attention.

Featherine said...

Very interesting points and I feel the exact same. My main objective in games is to build the most optimal/strongest min-max avatar. Despite this slight difference in our end goal, I feel like how we approach gaming is very similar.

Your observation that gamers are becoming dumber is definitely true. However I think your explanation is only partially correct. I think a lot has to do with discipline in today's generation. Very few people have the capacity, control and desire to sit down, analyze complex multi-step problems, brainstorm, come up with solutions, implement a solution and evaluate. For me, problem solving is an innate skill I was born with and was always good at, and I imagine it's the case for you too.

As a result of this decline in desire to treat games like a challenging puzzle to complete, modern MMO gamers (and thus MMO design) focus on instant gratification and mindless repetition. A game's appeal is now entirely focused on how flashy it is to attract new players and how psychologically addictive it is to make old players continue throwing their wallets at the screen.

I no longer consider min-max worthwhile in a MMO context and honestly feel very little desire to play. Just like how TV (something very educational when I was a child) is no longer something of substance, modern MMO is no longer a challenge for the mind.

How do you personally feel about amassing wealth in video games? Do you still consider it a meaningful challenge, or are you nihilistic about it like me?

Gevlon said...

@Featherine: I used to think it as a challenge but now it's not. I blew my wealth on TET gear and probably leave BDO when I finish the quests. It's just recreational activity to me, not adventure or challenge. I don't know what will be my next step.