Posts Tagged ‘MMORPG’

The Virtual Skinner Box

What is a Skinner box? And how can it be related to gaming? In this blog post I will discuss the psychology utilised by MMO game developers to condition a desired gaming behaviour in their costumer clientele.

Skinner boxes are small glass or plexi-glass boxes with levers and drinking tubes. In this box laboratory rats are placed and conditioned to perform different tasks through what is known as “positive” or “negative” reinforcement.

Positive and negative reinforcement according to Sheldon Cooper:

So what is positive and negative reinforcement?
Positive reinforcement means a reward (in the Skinner Box the rat gets a food pellet). Negative reinforcement means the removal of a reward or positive consequence which works out as a sort of punishment (in the Skinner Box the rat gets a small electric shock unless they perform the tasks in time). The method is called “Operant Conditioning”. In the Skinner Box the rat is conditioned this way to perform very basic tasks at first. After a while these tasks become more intricate. Similar techniques are used by game designers to condition players to pursue more and more elaborate gameplay.

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Games that blur the boundaries of work and play

Video games are often framed as sites of play and entertainment. Their transformation into work platforms and the staggering amount of work that is being done in these games often go unnoticed. Users spend on average 20 hours a week in online games, and many of them describe their game play as obligation, tedium, and more like a second job than entertainment.

So begins Nick Yee’s study “The Labor of Fun“, an article about the work like duties that come along MMORPGs. Today I wanted to give a quick shout out to this study which I think you might find interesting if you are an MMO player like me.

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The story of finding your guild

In an effort to encourage you all to tell GD the brief story of how you found your main guild I here present to you my own story! This blog post was inspired by a reader commenting on my blog post “Social Identity and Guilds in MMORPGs“. After reading the comment I thought it would be interesting to read your stories so even though I’m really cagey when it comes to writing about myself I will try to start this off!

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