Posts Written On May 2015

The Psychology Behind Character Creation – Part 2

A little while ago I wrote an article about why we make our characters look the way they do. To follow up on this I have conducted a few interviews with SWTOR players asking them questions about characters they’ve made. Something I quickly picked up on was the relationship with the players motivation for gaming and the attitude he or she had towards character creation. There’s a very clear connection between these two which you will be able to see for yourself below. If you haven’t already read the original article about the psychology behind character creation I would recommend you follow the link and do so first.

The Psychology Behind Character Creation – Part 1

Here are the summaries of four interviews highlighting some different attitudes to character creation and it’s importance:

 

Aaree
The Harbinger

Aaree tells me that the first character she makes in a new game generally is a slightly idealised version of her self. It’s got similar features as that of her own physical self. The alts that come after can differ a lot but tend to unnamed (2)have one or two things in common like the eye colour or make up. She gears her characters to suit the role they play.

“As in the case with my healer sage wearing robes, ect” she explains.unnamed

Almost all of her characters are female and have always been since she started gaming years ago. Aaree does have a male character that she is very fond. She tells me she has spent a lot of time getting his appearance just right.

From talking to Aaree it is obvious that immersion is important to her when playing a game like SWTOR. This is clear from looking at everything from the way her character looks to how she gears them and even makes choices in the story fitting the personality traits she has assigned the character. Her main is female and so are most of her alts. They look either very much like her or are very different but with one or two similar characteristics (such as being human, same gender or even eye colour). If she goes for other species then these tend to be human like in their appearance, marialans or cyborgs for an example. Similarities such as these will make it easier to feel a sense of immersion into the story. It is also a way for us to explore different sides of our own personalities within the safe environment that gaming provides.

 

 

Snave
The Red Eclipse

Snave tells me that he spent more time making his main character but then modeled the other characters that came later after that. This due to a combination of limited character design options in the games he plays and him “being pretty lazy about this stuff”. He has spent much more time customising his characters outfits ect than he did in the initial character creation he informs me.

When asked if he finds his main resembles him in any way he answers: “Unfortunately I am not blue, nor do I have red eyes. I guess we have similar hair at a push but to answer the question; no I do not model characters after myself normally.”

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Thoughts on A.I. – A journey through fictionalized philosophy

If A.I. is conceivable than it is arguably possible. Now if it was possible then we need to ask ourselves “Is it desirable?”. Let’s have a look at implications.

The movie Ex Machina successfully blurs the lines between man and machine.

NATHAN
I programmed her to be heterosexual. Just like you were programmed to be heterosexual.

CALEB
Nobody programmed me to be straight.

NATHAN
But you are attracted to her.

CALEB
This is childish.

NATHAN
No, this is adult. And by the way, you decided to be straight? Please. Of course you were programmed. By nature or nurture, or both.

– Ex Machina, The screenplay

Instead of asking how artificial intelligence resembles humans and their behavior why don’t we turn this question upside down and ask ourselves how we resemble artificial intelligence. As humans we are conditioned or “programmed” by our environment and experiences. So what is the difference between us and a machine?

In the sci-fi book “Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K Dick we are introduced to the self destructive nature of man by the character Phil Resch and his increasingly lacking ability to emphasise. Resch has lost all empathy for androids as well as any living thing. He kills not because it is his job to do so but because he enjoys it. When Resch eventually finds out that he is not an android he is in fact surprised. The main character of the book, Rick, can come to no other conclusion except that Resch has lost a critical part of himself that made him human. This is a part of the reoccurring theme of depersonalization discussed in the book. 

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Ex Machina analysis

Ex Machina, Alex Garland’s directorial debut, is a truly thought provoking film with a fitting ambiguous ending which should leave your mind racing. Though the film’s premise is not original (considering Spielberg’s AI, Pinocchio, Blade Runner – the list goes on) there are characteristics which separates the script from others of it’s kind. The story is set in the middle of nowhere in the isolated state of the art home belonging to the AI-creator and tech-billionaire Nathan. Caleb, who starts off as the protagonist, has been brought there to serve as the human part of a kind of Turing Test. Ava is the AI which will be examined. Her ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human will be determined by Caleb, a coder at a Google-esque company called Bluebook created by Nathan. Ava is also the enigma at the heart of this film and the philosophical problems that it presents.

SPOILER ALERT

Various thought experiments are referred to in the film but also experienced first hand by the viewer. The question we ask ourselves is, can Ava,  (as in the thought experiment ‘Mary’s Room’ mentioned by Caleb in the movie) ever really know the world if she is only ever kept in the room Nathan prepared for her? For as she is kept in this prison she could be seen as stuck inside Plato’s cave where she can only see the shadows of reality dancing on the wall of the cave. She cannot experience them first hand.

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Couples in Huttball II

‘Pvp, 1 spot’
‘inv,’ I whispered.

The entire party was on ts, including a couple. A long distance couple: not the internet MMO version, they just were not living together at the moment. Playing wz’s, the usual things going on, until – during a boring moment at mid in Huttball – the girl suddenly lashed out at the guy. Over nothing.

So, something was wrong.

‘Is something wrong?’ the guy asked, in a clueless voice. No! Don’t ask that! Don’t ask that one question!
‘No,’ she replied. In that tone that meant that yes, indeed, everything is wrong. Very wrong. Very, very wrong. It is such a cliché that it is a miracle that anyone still uses that type of no. But it happened.
‘Ok,’ he said. And now he decides to try to pretend nothing happened! Was he serious? He went there, with his first fatal question. Now he had no other option than to go all in; question her, state that obviously something was wrong, and what it was, etc.

In a semi-awkward-silence we finished the game.
‘Sort of tired, gonna log,’ she said.
‘Nn.’

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Couples in Huttball I

‘Want to join for some lowbie wz’s?’
He didn’t specify; he didn’t say want to join me and my gf for lowbie.
‘Sure,’ I said.

He introduced her, we talked a little, and very quickly we got a pop. Huttball. And then the emoting of the lovers began. She blew a kiss to him. He blew a kiss to her. She blew another kiss to him and ran in a happy circle around him. He tickled her. She giggled. She bowed for him. He loved her. She blew him another kiss.

Two minutes pre-wz can be a long time.

They were living together, at least, that was the story I was told. So I pictured them, both behind a screen, facing one another, blowing kisses. I started to picture it in slow motion, their heads moving slowly away from the screen, with exaggerated smiles, and a slow hand movement to send the kiss. Maybe even a wave. They would swing back and forth like a slow paced metronome. Endlessly blowing kisses to each other.

‘You guys should stream,’ I said. ‘With cam, definitely with cam.’

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Language, pls! Gaming slang, offensive?

When I started playing SWTOR my past gaming experiences were very limited. I remember playing a bit of Sonic on my uncles old SEGA but at the time I must have been about nine years old. Over ten years later I ran into SWTOR. Since reading and writing has always been a passion of mine I found this new medium of storytelling fascinating. I eventually found the little button on the minimap which lead me into warzone queues and that was that. I no longer cared about story content, I could beat people up in warzones instead. Well, get beaten up mostly really but for some reason I still enjoyed it immensely.

Needless to say at this point I was clueless about half of the things being said in chat. I was quite proud over having grasped the concept of the different roles (tank, healer and dps) but on a daily basis I was looking up acronyms like “ikr”, “aoe”, “pug”, “gg” and “fps”. Expressions like “casual”, “rekt” or “grind” were as incomprehensible to me. Urban dictionary was my best friend while unsuccessfully trying to camouflage myself as a real gamer like the rest you. I have to admit, the first time someone called out they were getting raped in a warzone I was confused.

After having played the game a little longer and thankfully gotten at least a little bit better at it the language too started coming more naturally. Urban dictionary and me no longer needed each other. Without thinking of it I was using the terms that had once been so alien to me.

One day when I was on TS with a few friends something interesting happened that I could not have predicted.

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The Gorgeous GM pt. 3/3

The Gorgeous GM pt. 1/3

The Gorgeous GM pt. 2/3

Being a GM was something Rebecca took seriously. She was the raidleader. She traced the gear of all her guildees, did gearing runs before raid times. The guildsite was pro. Very pro. She was talking with everybody; smoothing out little things before they became big things. She hunted players for a 25 team. To do all this she was spending more hours than a fulltime job, by far. She was committed and that energy spread around. Happy weeks raiding followed.

But.

A small guild is different than a big one, like the one they came from. When you go online off-peak, there won’t be many to play with. You might miss that.

One weekend, she needed to go away, and she found out that the minute she was gone that bitch (Leadergirl) had asked her guildees to spotfill.
Worse: they complied.
That hurt.

Then, her tank disappeared. Without saying anything he quit the guild and returned to Leadergirl.
A week later, her Warlock quit the game. I need to study.
Same day, the best healer went back to Leadergirl. I want to do 25 man.

And Rebecca herself was not happy with the commitment levels of at least half her team. They weren’t that into it. They wanted to play, but they got tired, didn’t want to do a couple more tries after midnight to finish a boss off. Or they had work. Or gf’s. RL excuses. She got annoyed. With the slacking. With incompetence. With betrayal. With dailies. With sorting things out. With everything.

Two things coincided. This Pala, one of her first friends, had gotten more than friendly with her. She had booked a ticket, and they were gonna meet up in little over a week. But, he skyped, he couldn’t pick her up. Mental Issues. Money Issues. Things. But! He was looking forward to see her!
Fuck him, she said to me. WTF is he thinking. WTF not picking me up. Afraid of going outdoors?!  WTF. (This is the clean version: she was angry and disappointed: she had been looking forward so much to visit him.)
Later that day during the raid, a new person, a total nobody, started to complain about loot.
That was it.
She  fu’ed them all. She  called them names. She raged. She raged hard.

And she quit.

For good.

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The strange case of an online friendship

Another sleepless night. I told myself I would stay in bed and try to sleep. I told myself I’d be good this time and stay. But I never do. There is something uncanny about sleep. I’ve always felt it. Even though I’m tired, the thought of parting with consciousness always makes me weary. “A waste of precious time” I tell myself, and it’s true. Something happens when the rest of the world is sleeping. My crowded mind seem spacious just like the abandoned streets outside. Thoughts and memories come to me in a way that suddenly makes sense. That’s what happened tonight. As I lay in bed, deluded by sleep, the memories of the strangest friendship I ever made came suddenly to me all at once. It of course all started in the most peculiar of places; the MMO called Star Wars: The Old Republic.

To make the long story of how we became friends short lets skip over the exchanging of guards, peels and heals necessary when securing a new in game ally. Let’s skip over the many warzones that followed, the PvP drinking nights, the laughs and the somber 3 am conversations. Almost a year after we made friends we decided to meet up. At this point we had actually already met once before together with a few other in game friends. This however would be different. We’d both had a crazy couple of weeks and needed a break from everyday life. So it would be.

I met her at the airport. As fitting our personalities I was instantly comfortable and she the opposite though I knew she was happy to see me.

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Addiction (prequel)

When WoW came out, people died. Of exhaustion. Since then, they implemented a system which kicks you out of the game if you are logged on too long. But still it happens. Something is up with games, it can make you forget to eat, to drink and to sleep. Literally to death. In light versions companies use the same tactics to keep their customers engaged. Gamification is booming. Tricking you in clicking more, giving more of your personal data, into coming back. It works. It definitely works.

Not every brain is probably wired to become addicted fast, but games sure fire up a lot of those brain circuits in some of us. The first time I ever played a game, was the first time I completely forgot time. What seemed like minutes, was actually hours. It sucked me in completely, I had lost myself. I really liked playing, still, but – and I guess the next thing is common as well – : sometimes it doesn’t feel so good. Especially when you are accidentally in a phase where you play around 16 hours a day and part of that feels more like work than fun. Not everybody plays that excessively, of course, the majority probably doesn’t even come close, but it is far from uncommon either.

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RE: Red pill, blue pill @Noctua

To read the original post: http://gamersdecrypted.com/red-pill-blue-pill/

Sartre’s most famous quote has to be L’enfer, c’est les autres (Huis Clos): Hell is other people. To paraphrase a scene from this book: imagine being locked up with bad and humorless pug’s having to play warzones together eternally. Blame those pug’s! It’s not always delusional to do that. Sometimes it is them.

Yes, according to Sartre, man is doomed to be free, but this being free isn’t easy to grasp nor instantly clear.

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