How should players experience mastery of the game?

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Points or other representation of relative status compared to other players

This is a important aspect of almost any game. Avarice capital, or the amount of wealth/experience gained in a virtual game space is the only way internet games are able to provide a sense of accomplishment. Without this particular aspect, it's hard for game developers to keep gamers playing their game. This status creates a goal for players to strive for which in turn keeps players goal oriented. An example of this would be the ELO ranking system in League of Legends. Based on your win/loss ratio, your personal ELO is changed, 2400 being the highest. This creates a competitive atmosphere which makes the game interesting and worth while to play. Personally I wouldn't play a game if there was not achievement system which is one of the reasons why many games such as league of legends, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (trophy/achievements), and so on have this kind of system. By having top players that help newer players strive for a goal, it makes for a goal oriented and interesting gaming environment.

I believe that mastery of a simulation should not be judged based upon a point system of any sort, whether it be ranking of items, levels of characters, or something similar. Numerical values such as currency and things we experience in reality could benefit the game and serve to compare between masters and non-masters. Mastery of the game, however, should be directly experienced and implied through the relationships and interactions with the game environment and players rather than a meter or some form of judgment explicitly provided by the game. It is still beneficial to make comparisons among players, so mastery of the game should be relative just like how mastery in real life is relative to how society is constructed and how other players perform. My main point is just that there should not be a point system, but the relative ranking of players is experienced through the game dynamics.

We are all born into this world without choice in our starting economic situation, our race, our gender, or our role in life. This is not World of Warcraft, in which a fundamentally dualist world perspective is already in place at the time of character creation,but instead an attempt at simulating a possible alternative world for humanity to inhabit. A game that is designed to challenge contemporary notions of statehood should avoid any paramaterization of arguably intangible elements that are associated with success, but instead mimic the ambiguity that is existence in the world. Therefore, in line with the existentialist principle of "existence precedes essence," I will argue agoraXchange must adopt a proceduralist philosophy in regards to user experience and vote for the option of having no points.

I challenge the need to describe "mastery" of this game. Would it be right for any of us to say that one of us is relatively better off than someone else based on some measurable notion of mastery of our lives? Is the investment banker who sacrifices her health in order to pursue her competitive career better than the surfer who opts for a flexible, low stress job that provides him time and access to the ocean? Is he who is better able to command a control of spoken, written, and body language in possession of a phenomenologically rich experience relative to that of another?

To assume mastery in the first place is already to fall into the trap of identifying a desirable parameter that an individual should (or can) be measured in, which I believe goes against the purpose of this game. First, as others before me have said, competitiveness cannot be one mark of our individual experience, and it cannot be the measure by which we come to understand the meaning of our existence. Second, we also cannot openly classify the ways in which we identify ourselves compared to others, because this will limit our perceptions of so called player statistics and elements which should otherwise be considered intangible or inseparable. If the goal of the game is to remove the arbitrary laws involved in marriage, nationality, and kinship, then we should escape the idea that each of us can be captured in numbers apart from some basic terms that we all share. For example, if our goal was happiness, even assuming that such happiness can be identified, I think, violates the first principle in the Manifesto, which is that human nature varies over time.

I think you bring up some really great points, no pun intended. What makes this game special is that it is not just another game. As said in the manifesto, this game is meant to be the equivalent of Thomas Moore's Utopia in that it should show us an alternative world unlike our own, to help shed light on the faults within our own system. Making points significant in the game would sort of violate the goal of the decrees to deter people from the capitalist mentality of always trying to look out for number one.

I agree that making there be a clear way to "master" the game would indeed be falling into a trap, and would undo a lot of the principles this game stands for. If points are allowed, this game will become a bit of a rat race. Players should become engaged with the game not because of the prospect of gaining points, but because of the experience they have becoming immersed in the game world.

I chose "Points or other representation of relative status compared to other players" for the following reason;

For one, ever since the video game was introduced into our world's society, its interactive foundations were primarily founded upon the idea of allowing players to achieve some level of individual(or cooperative, in terms of the virtual online gaming world) success. Aside from being a learning experience or conveying information, games have allowed players to utilize rule sets to achieve(individually or cooperatively) virtual goals and aspirations in a joyous and amusing manner. Without this allowance, in my opinion, the player simply wouldn't devote the time or energy in playing the game. A point system that would match players with a relative status compared to other players, would allow players to experience the aforementioned concepts of personal fulfillment and engaging entertainment. The scoring system with points would be an asset to this particular project and should be used.

Secondly, as the FAQs explain, this game is a virtual online game offering a tangible political alternative to our current world order that aims to further the level of progressive rights(that we currently experience) for its individual participants/virtual citizens. Political subjects of such a liberal political system, would want to experience success with their given freedoms. These aspirations for success can be articulated by "a point system that would represent one's level of success, similar to the ways in which people experience success in real life."(James Wagner) Thus, it would only make sense to utilize some sort of scoring system.

Eric Yoo
COCU177: Critical Computer Game Studies
WI12; Ayhan Aytes

I chose "Points or other representation of relative status compared to other players". It was a hard decision because I believe the game would be more fun with points or some kind of way to tell the difference between players based on achievements. When a player plays any game, the player wants the game to give them some kind of achievement that they earned from playing the game. This gives the players a result of how they did and perhaps ranking of the players. Being able to compare players based on points will allow competition between players unlike the other choice. If there are no points, then what is the purpose of playing the game? Experiencing game dynamics doesn't really produce results of achievement. With points, people with lower points will be motivated to work harder to gain points to catch up to those with higher points. A great question would be if there are points, how do you get points? what is the criteria of earning a point?

Eric Arbulante
COCU177: Critical computer game studies
Summer II, 2011

I agree with Eric, having "points or other representation of relative status compared to other players" will show their contribution and time in mastering the skills. The points are a measurement of achievement and progress of how far they've gone and how much further into completion. Therefore, it will motivate players to continue mastering the skills and spend more time and effort into reaching to completion. Without points, players will only try out the mastery and just leave it alone since no measurements or markers will recognize that their achievements or results. Thus, the game will be engaging if and only if points or other representation are established.

I think some form of a point system because as others have stated it makes the game more engaging and for some gives them more motivation. I personally like to track my progress throughout the game and point systems can help me figure out if I'm where I want/need to be. But I don't think point systems are a good representation of game mastery at all. Someone who has less points could know the game a lot better than someone who has a lot of points.

I agree with Thanh's comment. When playing a game, it's good to have points so that you can always be checking whether or not you are advancing to another level and what you need to do to achieve that. Let's say you're stuck and you don't know what else to do to gain more points, it doesn't necessarily mean that you aren't mastering the game. You have come so far as a player in obtaining these points but maybe you need some time in figuring out what you need to do. That shouldn't be a representation that you don't know the game.

Points are just another form of separatist identity and serve no purpose in the game. Indeed motivation is a good thing to have but not at the expense of ranking individuals. Is there ever full-mastery in anything?

This is a really interesting point, although I don't know how a game would get away from rankings and such. Every single game I can think of keeps score in some way, thus creating the "separatist identity" that you mention. My question would be: why is that a bad thing? Is it not okay for some people to be better at certain things while others are better at different things? Isn't that what makes life so great - that everyone is different?

I don't think points would actually have harmful effects for the game. I think you are generalizing players in a sense that those that play only strive to be the best. While there are certainly people that love to compete and be dominant, there are others that simply enjoy experiencing the game dynamics. These types of players do not care for points and play for the sake of having fun.

I agree that a point system should be set up to make the game more engaging. All of the more popular interactive games are more intriguing because there are winners and losers. I think that if there is no point system or some type of status comparison that players will lose interest in the game. The game needs purpose.

I agree that points would be engaging but I chose no points because the point system can attempt to establish something beyond what we originally intended - for example the creation of a self-serving agenda that only pays attention to gain. We need to not be so opportunistic and allow our states to process originally, without any sort of aggrandizement. Points will contrive the game and make us think otherwise. Maybe later when we feel more competitive it can emerge.

I agree with idalia226 in that points would make the game more engaging. It also makes the game competitive, which is an aspect of the real world. But how the competition in the game differs from competition in the real world, is that the game is serving a purpose of making the world better for all people.

The points would be "engaging" but I think you are wise to ask whether this competition that the game would simulate is even comparable to that of the real world. I reiterate my point again: what would we equate points with in the real world? How is a point system - in any way - helpful in creating a game that challenge hegemonic societal ideals? I think that the disadvantages of a point system outweigh the positive, "engaging" aspects.

I think that because this is a game, having a point system would help the players engage more. I know that points as an incentive should not be what makes people be interested in problems that affect our world, but I do think that a competitive game would encourage players to participate and this would lead to more awareness in regards to the problems the game is targeting.

I would have to disagree with alexaesthetics that “a game with no winners discourages people to even play that game.” To think in that manner is to put limitations on the purpose of this game and it is to follow the mentality of a capitalist society, something that I think agoraXchange strives to expand beyond. Why must we feel the need to be rewarded and recognized for doing good? Is doing good because you want to be rewarded morally right? The mastery of this game should not be driven by incentive for recognition, having a means to an end.
As for a response to whether or not we could achieve a point system, I would have to say the only possible way I could see a point system working would be based on number of times a person participated in the game including mere visitations of the website without postings. But even then the point system would not accurately reflect a participant’s mastery of the game itself. Having a point system would create incentives but are the incentives to gain more points than another player mean that they have mastered the game? I must agree with math.jackson that the game mastery should be determined by personal achievement that is independent of all other players.

even in simulations there is an objective for those simulations. players can stray from that objective but there is always an objective. if game mastery were determined by personal achievement that is independent of all other players then....

what would happen? i would master the game by....

if you don't propose an objective especially against other players you won't have a purpose for this game.and no way to measure yourself in comparison to others.

perhaps what i am confused about is the concept of "game"

is this suppose to be a game or what really is this suppose to be?

a game with no winner discourages people to even play that game. granted there are children games where everyone wins or there is no winner, but those games such as hanky panky or tag or hide n go seek don't involve much intellectual contemplations.

in being rewarded for X, it is logical to assume that players will strive for X much more then if there were no reward. people have an innate desire for recognition when it comes to games as well. people who play games better want some way of recognition that they are better players.

I would have to agree with much of what skeadie had to say above, but would also like to further elaborate as to why a point system would not be a good idea.

First, the questions asks about distributing points that are then ranked in comparison to other users, thus allowing competition for points. I'm not entirely sure that this is the result most would enjoy, because, my second point, any system of point distribution would be entirely and completely arbitrary.

If a point system is determined, then there must be guidelines for point distribution, which would in turn create an arbitrary hierarchy of goals and actions. Who is to decide what points are given for what? This vague system could only result in inequalities within the agora world... probably not ideal!

As far as game mastery, I feel mastery should not be determined by points, but instead by personal achievement. This achievement would be independent of all other players and would more or less be a personal evaluation of mastery. Setting goals and creating a system of random, but mandatory personal evaluations on progress made towards those goals could be a way of both checking individual progress, and causing personal reflection and motivation to fulfill those personal goals. Of course, this is only a hypothetical possibility. I feel a system like this would not require a winner, but would be more intellectually intriguing than say 'hanky panky' or tag.

I understand why it seems practical to have points as incentive - the reward will encourage players to not only participate but to try their 'best'. However, a system of points seems both unrealistic and oversimplified to me. I can't imagine a world where every time you have mastered something or attained a skill you are awarded a number of 'points' - often time the achievement goes unrecognized or does not yield immediate results. I understand that people have a 'desire for recognition' but I think that the point system fails to recognize the complex reasons for why people do certain things and such a system will simplify this interaction to "player A does action B and gets reward C". This does not seem to conducive to a game that strives to stretch the boundaries of the way people think about the world.

I think the game would fun and engaging if there was some sort of point system that allowed players to see how they are doing relative to other players.

I agree- i feel like a game like this needs some sort of point system to act as an incentive. Points will also add a more competitive edge to the game as well as make it more engaging. Without a point system I honestly believe that i would get very bored and lose interest. I also feel that people will be more envested in the game if they have a goal- for instance to hit a certain amount of points or to make it to a certain level. I feel this game would be boring and pointless without some other external motivation besides the pure experience of playing.

I agree. A point system could represent one's level of success, similar to the ways in which people experience success in real life - personal content, social happiness, money and wealth, etc. This would make the game not only more entertaining and desirable, but it would more closely resemble real life.

Hi Molly,
Why do you say this? What's so great about points and competition? Not sure why you favor this position. Please say more.
JS