I’d spotted this piece, but when I came to Tweet it, Daniel had already flagged it up. A chance for some conversation. First this:
And then this:
It was the tragic-but comic, comic-but-tragic angle I hoped to trace.
The original Guardian article sparking the exchange is here:
I’m aware I’m going with the flow of a pre-publication marketing campaign for a book (see yesterday’s post, on this same book – now, today, I’m fed the chapter sample), a campaign which I’m accessing via digital media, but irony aside, I think this is a cracking read. I’ll probably buy the book… I hope it has footnotes for its claims.
1. The psychological attractions of mixed feedback, where less positive feedback is more.
[Beyond this article, this week I’ve also been sent a petition by a close friend via change.org – and, having signed it, I’ve quickly unsubscribed: even one’s convictions become gamified with ‘like’ options from others. What if I don’t care, I just want to hold this or that option, regardless of ‘likes’? It seems harder to do so, online.]
2. “It’s hard to exaggerate how much the like button changed the psychology of Facebook use.” This section fed my Tweet line, and I think makes the piece worthwhile in itself. The non-neutrality of ‘liking’, even mixed in with its potential for banality, is a theme running through other posts this week in my Lifestream. The article mentions Lovematically, and an online search on that term throws up some fascinating responses and reactions to it.
3. Losses disguised as wins, and the design of games: free games where you can pay to keep on playing; Zodiac and Candy Crush, and the role of ‘juice’ in game design.
In the ‘challenge’ of a game, I’m reminded of what Vern Poythress describes as “a pattern of commission, work, and reward” being the fabric of human biography and history (Redeeming Sociology: A God-Centered Approach 2012: Crossway, Wheaton, p.100): are digital designs connecting with, and making use of, something deep within us all?
4. “Predatory games”: what a lively (and cyborgish) metaphor. “Some experiences are designed to be addictive for the sake of ensnaring hapless consumers, but others happen to be addictive though they are primarily designed to be fun or engaging. The line that separates these is very thin; to a large extent the difference rests on the intention of the designer.” They are two fascinating, fascinating sentences. The questions of (a) ‘the designer’ and (b) intention within design, are not often so bluntly raised. The contrasts with Donna Haraway’s ‘Cyborg’ myth are stark and suggestive. Here, there is talk of ethics, of games even being ‘predatory’. This leads to Tetris, and the comment that “Tetris is a game with a very strong negative motivation. You never see what you have done very well, and your mistakes are seen on the screen. You always want to correct them.”
5. “Humans find the sweet spot sandwiched between “too easy” and “too difficult” irresistible. It’s the land of just-challenging-enough computer games, financial targets, work ambitions, social media objectives and fitness goals. It is in this sweet spot – where the need to stop crumbles before obsessive goal-setting – that addictive experiences live.” And, I’m sure Alter would add, communities should be on his list here, too.
6. “You start playing because you want to have fun, but you continue playing because you want to avoid feeling unhappy.” Is this the human condition? Even a metaphor for games – or ‘Community Cultures’ – not being able to answer our deepest needs?