Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Save the CHILDREN!!! ... and games

Can you imagine more casual activity than school sports teams? The participants are children, the coach is employed by the school, so surely wouldn't push the kids to something that would negatively affect studies and the audience - if any - are adoring parents.

Yet these games are organized by the original sports rules. The video game customs of "accessibility" and "casual nature" are totally absent. I mean could you imagine a kid telling the coach "cba 2 practice lol" and stay on the team? Or running around randomly saying "i play as i wanna xd"?! Or picking up his cell phone in the middle of a game and say "brb phone" to his teammates?! How about declaring blocking "griefing" in the spirit of "every player is a champion and can score"?! How about the field owner openly collecting money for "premium options" like sloped playfield, smaller goal field, plated boxing gloves, or "performance enchanting consumables"? How about the championship organizers rigging the games to cater to the teams who paid the most on cosmetic items (dresses, mascots, fireworks)?

While such ideas would be bizarre in a game for children, they are standard in video games. How come that the same people who play these video games would completely reject the same ideas in school sports? For the same reason why they don't want to let their kids smoke, drink and engage in irresponsible sex, despite they do all these things. It's called "responsible parenting". People want their kids be better than they are. They try to teach their ideals and not their flawed practices to their kids. This is why they would demand to fire the basketball coach for practices they reward game devs: because they know that "everyone is a champion", pay to win and playing unprepared are bad things. They allow themselves to "have some fun after a hard day's work", but want their kids to be prepared and play competitively in a fair game.

This allows a way to regulate this abomination that games turned into. The goal should not be to change the existing gaming practices, merely "SAVE THE CHILDREN" from them, demanding that such games be declared 18+. After all "adults" (people who somehow managed to not push their fingers into the electric socket for 18 years) can play the way they want to and have their own wages (hahaha) to pay to win. But kids should only access games which are fair, have no welfare handouts, no pay-to-win and clearly separate winning from losing. In the name of "SAVE THE CHILDREN", the non 18+ games could be demanded to be audited, so some third party checks the logs for rigging. After all no sane person could claim that a rigged P2W game where players get rewards for showing up is a place where children could learn anything useful.

This would create a protected niche for these games, since only these could be sold to the children who has access dad's credit card. This isn't a small niche, many children get games and subscription from their parents. Of course the "SAVE THE CHILDREN" battle cry is self-serving: I want to play the same kind of fair games that I recommend to children.

PS: talking about unfair features, Albion Online has a backward buy order system, that makes it easy to make accidental transactions for several digits less/more than you meant:


S Riojas said...

Not so much that the order system is backwards, but offers very little information to allow sellers and buyers to make informed decisions. No real price average is presented. No real history of pricing is given. Couple that with human nature to make mistakes - you have made them yourself in market orders in that other game you are not supposed to mention ;) and the system is ripe for error.

AO is enjoyable, but the market system needs to be beefier.

Eaten by a Grue said...

I will just take a guess at what I think is going on here. You are looking very hard for a zero sum game experience in video games. Sports are zero sum games. Every goal for one team, is a proportionate disadvantage for the opposing team.

You can find the zero sum game experience you are looking for in many a competitive game. RTS games like Starcraft, fighting games, MOBAs (mostly), card games. But you do not like these types of games, which is fine.

MMOs deviate from zero sum game. Improving your character's armor, level, etc. does not directly harm another player. And once they go down the slope of positive sum, they keep going until they find their sweet spot of profit. Keep the casual/noncompetitive people progressing, while also keeping the more competitive players by offering them exclusive rewards.

So I think your issue is where the sweet spot should be. I do not think I have an answer, but I wanted to at least try to flush out the issue as best as I can see it. I can see how different games can appeal to different types of players, but history has shown that the MMOs that cater to the hypercompetitive players, and err on the side of too much zero sum, tend not to last. Players leave. The question is, why?

Chad Masterson said...

You can still play chess or backgammon or wargame with a club or something, everybody knows that video games are relegated to the cultural trash heap along with comic books and porn, it's not exactly the end of the world.

The closest thing to what you're talking about in the video game space is probably Dota 1 since it was developed totally outside of a commercial context and was purpose built to allow for interesting interactions that create an incredibly wide breadth of possible strategies.

maxim said...

Actually competing in front of parents is not very casual from the child's point of view. Wanting to look good in front of parents is one of the strongest possible incentives to get hardcore that a social human being can have.

The casual way to play is when you simply have a game in a yard and can join/leave essentially whenever. "I play the way i wanna" and "brb phone" happen all the time. Depending on the specific yard, all sorts of otherwise fully viable tactics can be considered "griefing" or "cheap". There is even a form of pay-to-win where anyone with a cooler gadget automagically gets respect in the yard that others have to win through performing well in yard games.

A more apt comparison would be the progression in street basketball. First you have street games just shooting the hoop until bored / mom calls / cute girl passes by / whatever. Then you have more committed games against players that are not necessarily skilled but that expect you at least play full games with them - these will still occasionally bend the rules, but not much. Then you have even more committed games against players that are actually skilled and will simply refuse to play with you if you don't respect the rules. Then you have competitions in which rulebreaking is actively punished.

Mass-appeal games are having a problem with reaching second level (committed games) because current mass culture sees excluding people from being able to play the game as bad both financially and morally. Only games that are structured in a way that beyond a certain point every special snowflake must prove himself in a trial by fire have a chance of reaching the "committed games" level. These then go on to develop if not a full blown competitive scene then at least a decent speedrunning community.

maxim said...

@Chad Masterson

There were plenty of versions of "chess, backgammon or wargame with a club" that found themselves on the cultural trash heap. The stuff we have now is a result of untold generations working out the kinks, not just something that automagically exists.

Conversely, there already are plenty of video games that have stood the test of time and have become classics that every generation will continually take out of the trash heap, clean up and put on a pedestal. Just look at something like Doom 1/2, which is preserved across a multitude of Internet game repositories, easily discoverable through all sorts of "best game ever" lists and is constantly given current-tech facelifts by the community.

vv said...

Videogames aren't sport. Games sell "experience". It's closer to show-business. One of the most important thing in game design is how to make player feel certain emotions in certain situations. Sport is about competition, winning and losing. Think about Hollywood, not soccer.

Esteban said...

Oh, heavens, not the children. The Ayn Rand School For Tots strikes again.

"After all no sane person could claim that a rigged P2W game where players get rewards for showing up is a place where children could learn anything useful."

Must disagree. This describes Western capitalist society perfectly, and such games are very useful. The rich kids get an early primer on how they can expect to live their lives, and the poor kids get valuable practice at getting used to it.

Anyway, most affected games would simply rebrand themselves 'virtual experiences' to dodge the game aspect as Vladimir suggests above, and you couldn't get at those without also age-limiting wrongthinking books, movies, etc.

Tithian said...


That's too general of a view, as games like Overwatch, RTS, CoD/BF, MOBAs, CCGs and brawlers are clearly about competition, winning and losing. I don't play Street Fighter or Gwent for the cinematic experience or anything of that sort. And e-sports as a term exists for a reason.

Single player games are very close to what you describe, true, but that's where the similarities end.

@Chad Masterson

outside of the US/UK wargaming is pretty much a niche that is linked only to hardcore nerds. Where I live it would easily be relegated to the cash-grab trash heap a lot more easily than video games. So it's all relative.

Anonymous said...

You are mixing up organised team sports with kickabouts on the field

" I mean could you imagine a kid telling the coach "cba 2 practice lol" and stay on the team?"

No, but I can imagine a kid telling his mates "Cba 2 come to play tonight" and still playing the next day.

Compare esports leagues with sports teams if you want to make the comparison. Gaming is kicking about a football with your mates on the street after school, and, yes, people get laughed at there for taking it too seriously too.

vv said...


That's true even for multiplayer games. E-sport is a small part of it, just a some kind of advanced advertising. Rigging in WoT for example is exactly about player's feelings. It exists to make player feel that he's winner even if he can't play at all. So players gladly pay for it ether by money or by time. Game design isn't about gameplay only - it's about meta-game, monetization and so on.

Anonymous said...

This is brilliant because "THINK OF THE CHILDREN" is a very, very effective way to convince socials to do anything. There is a potential for a campaign here, maybe.