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  • Why Players Love Games That Make Them Frustrated

    [10.05.21]
    - Yongcheng Liu

  • 02 The Placebo Effect Reduces Frustration After Failure

    The placebo effect was first discovered by Dr. Henry K. Beecher, and it refers to the practice of taking a fake drug that has no effect at all without the patient's acknowledge, but the patient gets the same or even better treating results as the real drug. This plausible phenomenon is common in both medical and psychological research.

    Prolonged experience of failure may cause great frustration within players, who then gives up the game, and then needs a certain psychological compensation mechanism to convert the player's negative emotions into positive ones and regain interest in the game.

    In many games with a certain degree of difficulty, players are given a certain amount of compensation after experiencing failure, such as the "system-assigned bots" which are common in many competitive games or modes. This system will automatically assign bots to join the game after players have experienced multiple failures, although most players can accurately identify the bots, but the joy and accomplishment of defeating them is a "cheap" sense of achievement and psychological placebo for them.

    In Knives Out, most players can identify which bots are placed automatically. They are often poorly equipped, have fewer lootings, but they can give players a sense of psychological accomplishment in killing them, which is a "placebo" provided by the game developers for players.

    Placebo effect is also common in the game "recharge discount", most of the game will set a certain recharge benefits, which is a disguised placebo effect. For players who do not recharge so often in game, but it also helps increase a certain recharge amount, to a certain extent to give players psychological comfort.

    03 Summary

    For players, frustration is not terrible, and the sense of accomplishment after frustration can help them gain great psychological satisfaction. For game developers, how to make players "reasonably" frustrated, and how to arouse players' higher interest in the game after being frustrated, is the direction and subject of constant efforts.

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