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Game Psych: Why Games Do What They Do

The Psychology Behind the Most Powerful Game Mechanics
By Beatriz Bernal

REWARDS

In 1930, Burrhus Frederic Skinner, who was a psychologist at Harvard University, invented the Operant Conditioning Chamber, better known as the Skinner Box. This box was a chamber that had a lever a lever that an animal, usually a rat or a pigeon, can press down with the hope to obtain food or water as a reward. This reward is referred to as the “reinforcer.” The Box was used for a number of experiments, most of which revolved around finding the factors which caused the animal to pull the lever more or less often (called the “rate of response”).

Their conclusions have had a huge impact in a number of fields revolving around the motivation industry. This included fields such as motivation improvement, study of additions, conduct modification, employee’s engagement, game design and many others.

The most basic level of results showed the pigeons were more likely to push the lever more often when there was a 50% chance that they would receive a reward. What was strange was that this happened even more often than when they received one 100% of the times. This is called an intermittent reward schedule and it is one of the most powerful game mechanics used to engage players. They also found that the most effective reward schedule was a variable ratio reward schedule (where the result was 50% of the time, but they could possible get 3 rewards in a row and then nothing for 5 lever pushes) as opposed to a fixed ratio reward schedule (for example, where they would get a reward every 2 lever pushes no matter what).

Basically, the combination of unlocking the reward just 50% of the time together with not knowing exactly when the reward is going to be unlocked, inserts a level of randomness into the equation such that there could be many pulls of the lever with no payoff, but the average payoff is set and somehow can be intuited. This combination is irresistible and produces both the highest rate of responding and the greatest resistance to extinction.

So what does this mean for us? Animals (and humans) can be persuaded to perform an activity more often simply by giving us a chance of a reward instead of promising us a guaranteed reward. We tend to know this intuitively, which is why many people enjoy gambling.

Thousands of games use these principles. Slot machines will intermittently reward you with money, Farmville will randomly give you gifts (usually items to be used on your farm), and World of Warcraft mobs only drop the loot you need for quests some of the time and not all of the time.

LOSS AVERSION

Loss aversion is a behavioral characteristic of the human nature demonstrated by the psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman in 1979 as a part of their prospect theory). It describes how people are intrinsically afraid of losses when they choose between probabilistic alternatives that involve risk. Basically, instead of looking at the “big picture” or the final outcome, we look at each loss as its own event, which makes those losses irritate us more. We dislike losing more than we enjoy winning.

Prospect theory says that there are two stages in the decision process: editing and evaluating. During the editing part of the decision making process, people will look at their choices and then set a goal or reference point. Then, they will look at that point during every event; in relation to that reference point, they call the negative outcomes “losses” and the positive outcomes “gains.”

In the evaluation phase of decision, people will chose what they perceive to be the best option; this is usually the option with the most utility, which is based on the potential outcomes and their respective probabilities when it comes to obtaining that outcome. For example, let’s look at this: if someone gave you 2 options; the first one, you are given the offer of $50 with no stipulations. The second one gives you the chance of winning $100, just by flipping the coin. Which of them would you choose? Both options are mathematically equivalent, but most people would choose to get the $50.

Loss aversion is the most powerful game mechanic present in many games. For example, in FarmVille, you don’t return, your investments die and you will feel like you wasted your time and money. Loss aversion is also present in poker, when a player decides to bet less money that he should (based on his odds) just because he doesn’t want to risk all his chips and get knocked out of a tournament. The idea of losing everything has more weight than the potential amount that he could win on this particular hand.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Achievements are, in short, a representation of a specific accomplishment. In some cases, they will give you something that helps you progress in the game. In other cases, they’re just a great way for you to brag to your fellow gamers about your accomplishments. But why do people love achievements? How do they drag us even further into our virtual experience?

That’s where Abraham Maslow comes in. His research revolved around something that he called the “hierarchy of needs”.

The needs on Maslow’s hierarchy work from the bottom and go upward. The concept is, in short, that we have all of these needs in our lives. As life goes forward, the needs that we have become much more complex in nature and they also become much more difficult to attain. We feel accomplished when we ensure that these needs are taken care of; we feel as if we have achieved something in our lives.

Achievements are the 4th step of any individual’s needs. We like to feel as if we accomplished something. If you defeat a raid boss in World of Warcraft, you feel as if you have accomplished something, and it gives you a feeling of satisfaction and pride. But, what if you are a player that doesn’t raid? How can Blizzard help you to feel accomplished? The achievements that they provide give you little “bread crumbs” that tempt you to come back and achieve those things. Some of them may seem trivial; others are incredibly difficult. Either way, you feel as if you have accomplished something, and the need for esteem has been fulfilled by the achievement system.

So where do we see achievements?

In World of Warcraft, achievements give you something to strive for while questing and raiding, by asking you to do something differently than you would have; you accumulate points which you can show off to your fellow gamers. In the Pok�mon series of games, you earn badges when you defeat gym trainers. Consoles like the Xbox have even put achievements into everything you do on your account, from playing particular games to performing certain actions while on the console. Achievements are everywhere, and they can bring a challenge to games that we wouldn’t have otherwise.

If you are looking for more information on the gamification topics we talked about here, make sure to check out our game mechanics glossary: http://makeyourlifeagame.com/gamification-resources/gamification-resourcesgame-mechanics-glossary/.

We explain all of the terms here in more detail, and you can learn more about the thought patterns that go into the psychology of game mechanics and gamification.


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Best Class to Level in WoW For Fast Results?



“What class should I play in World of Warcraft?” Like every MMORPG out there, this important question can only be answered by your play style and goals. If your goal is to level-up quickly in Warcraft, then the way to go is the Hunter class. I suggest this for several reasons.

A Hunter is a master of solo questing and play. After level ten, the Hunter can begin to use pets. Pets are animals from within the game world that you tame (by means of a spell) to journey with you throughout the lands. If you are new to Warcraft, then the Hunter lets you see how different monsters and critters fight your pet before you are character is physically involved in melee with an unknown assailant. While your pet fights against the enemy, you can use your gun or bow to rain damage on your foe.

Hunters have very little down time. While taking low damage and using little Focus (formerly using mana before the latest Cataclysm patch) your character can keep on questing or grinding as you want.

Hunters are also good for the casual gamer. Unlike some other online role-playing games, World of Warcraft is friendly to the casual gamer. While you will need to learn more complex strategy at higher levels regarding how your pet is and is not used in raids or instances, the Hunter is the fastest way for the casual player to move quickly into new areas and opportunities.

Hunters also have flexibility in the gear they can use. With leather armor at lower levels and chain available as your levels increase, you can use much of the protection that you might find in random drops from monsters. With the correct training, Hunters can use a wide variety of weapons from bladed one- and two-handed choices to a variety of bows and guns.

Most of the extra skills of the Hunter have the feel of cast spells. This is an easy way to learn essentials of the magic-system and ability cool-downs in the game. While rarely damage-based in the way most players might think, there are interesting traps and stings that let you customize how you approach your quest goals.

If you want to experience the breadth and width of the World of Warcraft universe, the Hunter is your fastest way to go to get new experiences in the shortest amount of time. You will also learn a great deal about game mechanics when you are just starting out in Warcraft.

For more information about the casual gamer in World of Warcraft, please visit our blog at http://www.warcraftstarter.com or join Hunter in your Twitter account by visiting http://www.twitter.com/warcrafter




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Warcraft: How Often Should I Go Get Training?

Hi New-to-Warcraft friends! For anybody who is grinding your path for eighty, you will probably be tempted to get trained each time your brand-new skillsets are available. This will often slow down your progress quite a lot.

World of Warcraft How Often Should I TrainIn most cases, you don’t need to buy new training when you get to a new training . Usually, each time your own level concludes with any “-0” may wish to take a trip for your personal trainers. In these levels, you’re going to be choosing most of the substantial spells such as teleports for the fun-to-play mages. Below 60, you will get five trainings for the first 10 level changes, so decide when it’s right for you to return home. This waiting additionally supplies you an opportunity to preserve your Toon’s Warcraft gold, also.

After you make seventy, you are able to train at each and every level. Yet again, you’ll not have to do it. There won’t be any class training mobs found in Outland, and so you should be positive it is truly worth your time and effort to go into the “vanilla WoW” locations.

If you are trying to quest fast all the way up for your desired level, it could be seriously worth the effort to have a look at your spell and training listings that are all over the net. This means it is easy to develop a plan for yourself which reminds you to omit some specific trainings and simply go on questing as well as mob-killing. You will also know for sure whenever you should run to a trainer.

As one more hint, try asking for a teleport to Dalaran as soon as you can afford. It is really mostly easy to secure a higher-level mage to offer you a port for a handful of gold. An individual can visit Dalaran from each and every level there is. It’s great to ensure this is your current home base while you are progressing simply because it provides you with entry to each of the main towns. And then, if you do need to dash in for getting some fresh training, you can use your hearthstone toward Dalaran, go find training and hearthstone back to Dalaran to get on your way to the main location closest to your quest place. Practically anywhere in Azeroth may be a quick ride these days.

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Hunter is a long time World of Warcraft player and he’s ready for Cataclysm to open up new fun in Warcraft. He thinks this link goes to the best WoW gold-making program out there.

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What Class Should My Next World of Warcraft Character Be?

Found this question being asked online:

What should my next World of Warcraft character be? I have a level 80 rogue and I don’t want to do any of the healing classes.

Warcraft Gnome MageMy answer: For a good change of pace, why not try being a mana-slinging Mage? With several 80-level toons in WoW, I’d like to be able to play both my 80 rogue and mage simultaneously.

With both the magic-user and dagger-wielder, you get to experience 2 diverse ways of playing the game. With my high-level frost specced mage out there, I can solo open areas with easy while many of the mobs never even reach me before I have executed them. Fast, hard DPS is a great tool for fun.

The other very different way to play Warcraft is with a hunter. A hunter takes different paths to eliminate the enemy. Although some people think hunters have been nerfed a bit, I really like the different classes of pets available and their very different ways of aiding your success. Whatever you do, have fun. Remember, it’s a game. A good game for sure but if make a character that is just a big grind for you, then why bother? Go experiment.

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Hunter wrote this article for you. Whatever class you choose, learn great ways to harvest gold with this system. Never buy gold.

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Best Leveling Spec For Hunter

By James Rolan

Trying to figure out the best leveling spec for hunter? We’ll discuss the two viable choices for a strong leveling spec, and what you need to do to make them really shine!

The first option is the simpler to play and less gear dependant Beast Mastery. BM hunters have respectable damage even in mediocre gear, which is handy for leveling as many players can’t afford to stay geared to the teeth. Second, the pet has improved aggro and tanking skills, meaning you don’t have to spend a lot of time Feign Death-ing and kiting. For a good BM leveling spec, focus on utility for your pet and improving your pets damage; your damage is important, but you REALLY want your pet doing as much as possible to improve its aggro. Mana isn’t as big a deal, since your pet does good damage and with Improved Aspects your damage in Viper Stance isn’t too bad.

The other possible choice for best leveling spec for hunter is Marksmanship. Marksmanship is capable of far more damage than BM, but your pet will be strained to hold aggro. You’ll want something with a pin or snare, like a crab or Hyena, and you’ll need good timing for abilities like Feign Death and Deterrence, so you can dump aggro and kite without loosing damage. If you do pull it off, though, Marksmanship is incredibly strong. Focus on talents that improve your shots and stings, and prioritize mana efficiency the most; the less time you spend in Viper Stance the better. Marksmanship is also a lot stronger in the potential gear department, as you get attack power from Intelligence, meaning Int gear is far better; of note is the Heirloom mail gear, which is okay for other hunters but completely amazing for Marksmanship thanks to a large dose of Int.

Hope this article helped you figure out which spec to go for. If you’re looking to level quicker, check out my comparison review of the top leveling guides and find yourself a good one – addons and the in-game quest tool don’t really compare.

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Three Tips to Help Your World of Warcraft Levelling

World of Warcraft Leveling Tips to Help You Hit Level 80 Fast
By Tony Bolton

(Guest Post)

The game of World of Warcraft is ever expanding with the release of patches, and content for the game. The latest expansion the Wrath of the Lich King allows players to level from 70 to 80 now which for many players has added some needed freshness to the game. Though there are a number of guides out there to help you level up to 80 faster, However I feel that leveling can also be done without a guide so I wanted to focus on a few World of Warcraft leveling tips that can help you do just that.

1. Get a bigger bag. Nothing is more frustrating then when you are about to leave for a quest or when you find yourself far away from town discovering that your bag is full. So as soon as you get a chance make sure you get a bigger bag this really helps cut down on the amount of trips back to town just to empty out your bags.

2. Consider add-ons that will save you time. Some of the best add-ons available include the “carbonite quest,” “auctioneer” and my favorite, “auto profit.” Auto profit is very useful as it sells the items which you would have classified as gray junk to the vendor and it does all this in just one click. This is extremely useful, as it saves a ton of time, which can then be spent leveling. The carbonite quest works more or less like a quest helper with better mini maps and a really good quest tracker.

3. Get your mount as fast as you can. It is important to remember that travelling on a mount increases your travel speed thus cutting down on wasted travel time. So even for those players in the higher level zones’, upgrading your mount is just as effective for over over level 60 players as getting your first mount was at level 40

Of course there is a lot more World of Warcraft leveling tips but there just isn’t the time and space to cover all those in just one article. I suggest to learn more visit our site we cover a lot more WoW leveling tips as well review many of the leveling aids out there, so that you can reach level 80 faster then all your friends




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World of Warcraft Leveling Guide – 5 Methods to Enjoy Yourself While Leveling Up

World of Warcraft Leveling Guide – 5 Methods to Enjoy Yourself While Leveling Up
By Dave Lex

(Guest Post)

Many people, including myself, do get drained from all the leveling once it has become the second or third or more character that you have leveled. In this leveling guide, I will share with you 5 ways I keep myself entertained while doing the drudgery of leveling up my alternate characters.

Method 1 – Switch on the TV

By turning to watch what’s on TV every few mins really takes the boredom out of leveling my alternate characters. The key is to watch a light comedy or game show so that you get entertained, but do not watch heavy shows such as dramas and suspense or action shows as it will make you want to focus on the show more than your game. This has happened to me many times and I turn to my screen only to find my poor character killed by some mob.

Method 2 – Get a leveling buddy

If you have a leveling buddy, you can at least talk to that person in game or through skype/phone and it will certainly make the game more enjoyable then if you were to level alone.

Method 3 – Get engrossed and consumed in the quest storyline

I’m sure if you have leveled a few characters like I have already, you wouldn’t even bother to care about the storyline of the quests. Chances are that you will just go to the main objective and get it over and done with. Just try for once, to enjoy the storyline and at least this will give the quest makers some credit!

Method 4 – Think of something worse that you have to do if you were not leveling

This method is a bit obscure but just try and think of the chores/assignments/projects/work you have to do if you do not level. In most cases, I’d rather be leveling than doing my assignments and projects!

Method 5 – Pay someone to level for you

When you pay someone to level up your character, you can do other things you enjoy. This is truly the most literal way where you can enjoy yourself while having your character leveled up at the same time!

I hoped this information has given you some refreshing ideas on how to enjoy leveling up and although it is not the best World of Warcraft leveling guide you have ever read, I’m sure it will help you enjoy more while leveling. If you wish to have more information, please go to – http://SecretsOfWarcraftPros.com

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Dave Lex is a hardcore World of Warcraft Gamer and is dedicated to helping new and experienced players with the game. Find out more at http://SecretsOfWarcraftPros.com




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In Game Levelling Guide for World of Warcraft

We Think This is One of the Best IN GAME Levelling Guides.
We Think This is One of the Best IN GAME Levelling Guides.

We think the Idemise Levelling Guide for World of Warcraft (WOW) is one of the best for all types of players.

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Getting Started in World of Warcraft? (Part One)

Are you just getting started in World of Warcraft?

I’ve been playing World of Warcraft (WoW) since its debut several years ago. It’s one of my favorite MMORPG (means “Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game”) ever- and I’ve played almost all of them as well as being a Game Master (GM) back in the day for a game.

So, let me share with you some of the things I have learned about my favorite hobby, playing WoW!

1. Enjoy the Quality of the Game
WoW is filled with boatloads of content! Although I have maxed several different characters of different classes, there is still some content I have not yet played. That amazes me! There is so much to do in the game. Don’t get too focused on leveling that you miss the huge content and quality that the folks over at Blizzard have created for you in WoW. Since Warcraft is an immersive experience, spend some time immersing yourself!

Once you have some experience and you are ready to move along a bit faster with a second or third character, there are many excellent leveling guides out there. My favorite in-game World of Warcraft leveling guide is the one produced by IDemise. You can learn more about that when you click here.


2. Talk with Other Players

Wow is not a game you play by yourself. Although you can solo in WoW, it is not nearly as much fun. Most people in the game will be willing to help you if you are polite, not begging for Warcraft gold, and able to take “no” for an answer. If you ask another player for help, they may be able to assist you with your needs, just part of your needs or not at all. There are many reasons a person may not be able to assist you at any given time, so if someone denies your request for help, thank them for their time and move on.

3. Do All the Newbie Area Quests
The designers at World of Warcraft are smart people. The starting area for each race is well thought out. Unlike most games that give you a time-wasting tutorial, WoW starting areas give you the training you need to play the game while at the same time you can earn coins and equipment to make your new character stronger. Do these quests, enjoy the fun and easy leveling up to about level six and don’t miss out on one of the best designed parts of the World of Warcraft universe. If you are brand new, the newbie areas will take you about two hours to complete, more or less.

This ends part one of my getting started guide to WoW, the World of Warcraft.

 

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