Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 29, 2016

Email: Hardcore Psychosis

Hey Malstrom,

I think Hardcore Psychosis is a societal symptom being cashed in, not a new business model to push the Game Industry’s own agenda.

If you’re a young person who doesn’t have the right parents or the right financial backing out of high school, you got screwed by society. Even if you had the right parents or the right financial backing, you probably still got screwed by society considering how things have gone in the last decade. If you’re a modern young man, what’s the point of working hard to attract a modern young woman? If you’re not their perfect Prince Charming or their exciting bad boy fling, or you don’t have the perfect career and life-plan to finance their dream lives, you’re their spare wallet for when they suddenly realize time’s ticking on their youth and they need to cash out quick. They feel entitled to their hopes and dreams and you’re just the actor to help them realize it, you don’t really matter in the picture. Corporations don’t want to pay you high wage, don’t want to pay you a pension, and they want you to be grateful for it. We saw our grandparents getting screwed out of entitlements and our parents losing half their stuff or more in divorces growing up.

Hard work is not a virtue if it doesn’t get you anymore and no wants to be a woman’s “safe” choice for her future alimony payments. But you’ll also go crazy or get hooked on drugs or alcohol without something to do. Enter video games. A sedentary lifestyle will kill you slower than drugs and alcohol will, you can still connect to other human beings through the internet and real life, it provides a reward for hard work, you don’t need a particularly high paying job to have access to them or maintain them, and who cares if you’re a loser because you’ve already lost anyways. You’re seeing what happens with Trump and Brexit, losers would rather mess it up for the winners benefiting from the system than try to be winners because the winners often don’t realize how lucky they are and just try to use tough-talking shame to keep the losers invested in a system that benefits them.

I think the game industry is just trying to figure out how to be more and more immersive for people who want that something to do with their time, because they’re in it for the long haul, whereas the “winners” of society are too busy winning to become devotees, they just hop into and out of fads because everyone else around them is doing it for fun. I saw people who’ve never played Pokemon or barely knew what it was, famous celebrities, posting videos of them playing Pokemon Go when it was a fad for those few weeks, now you never hear about it, because they moved on. There’s huge rewards but not long-term money in that, so I can see why the Game Industry, especially when a single game can torpedo your entire studio, would rather focus on the sure thing and only takes risks when they’re desperate.

You’re letting the Game Industry get off the hook. Even in the 1980s, tremendous strides were taken to understand the psychology of gaming. It was much further researched in the 90s. SOME of this data is used to make games more fun. But other times it is used in a different way.

Look at the Internet. At the beginning, we all loved the Internet. The Internet was OUR TOOL for many things. But using that same technology, a company can flip it around on you. Suddenly, YOU BECOME THEIR TOOL. Instead of you manipulating the technology, the technology manipulates you. For example, we want the Internet to give rise to new voices, to break censorship. But the Internet can be used to create mass censorship.

A great example company would be Blizzard. Blizzard used to make the best games. The games were addictive, and we played them. But if you have noticed, something has significantly changed. The games are designed with teams of psychologists, constantly reweighing rewards and player activity. When you get done from playing a Blizzard game today, you feel like you have exited a psychology lab. The Blizzard games today are ‘fun’, but not in the same way. The more you play, the more you feel bad about yourself. When you stop playing WoW, it is like waking up from a bad dream. (There is a reason why Battle.Net doesn’t allow you to ‘hide’ yourself from your friends. Blizzard doesn’t give a shit about YOUR WANTS. You are just a tool. And where is the editor for Heroes of the Storm? It certainly needs it! But no, we get dumbass brawls like ‘every player is a siege tank’ which I could have made myself two minutes in the editor!! They don’t want us to make another game better than their own like we did with Warcraft 3!)

People are different. Some people are more susceptible to this especially depending on where they are in life. I, myself, become susceptible too.

I want people to realize that some game companies are intentionally using their ‘game design’ to create negative aspects for the gamer… They don’t give a shit if your life is destroyed playing their game.

Now, I have not detected this element from Nintendo. I think it is because Nintendo deals so heavily with children. Nintendo’s problem is different and is more of an obsession over virtual reality and ‘omg 3d’… I really, really like Iwata’s attitude that ‘we need to raise profits by creating games people want to BUY and OWN FOREVER”. Many game companies do a bait and switch, they promise one thing and the game is something else. No Man’s Sky is an extreme example, but it is very common.

Why the shit should we pre-order any game anyway? They are freaking digital now. If they came on supply constrained cartridges, then it might matter, but there is absolutely no reason to ever pre-order a video game. They just want your money, they want you to ride the hype marketing (hype marketing is nothing more than a psychological assault on you) before you wise up. “If you pre-order, you get to play the game early.” Why not just make a good game and let THAT sell itself?

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