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    • The Psychology of Call of Duty Multiplayer

      6 years ago


      Call of Duty is one of the biggest gaming franchises in history yet everyone seems to hate it. Why do we buy it? Why do we play it? It seems stupid to continue the endless cycle of frustration and anger when we can move on to a more pleasant and fun experience. Yet we continue it.

      Personally I have a great time with the Call of Duty series. The campaigns stimulate my want for explosions and badassery that I can't complain about them... Okay I will. I'm going to disregard World at War and earlier titles, besides MWI, simply because I did not play them. The plotlines for MWI and MWII were pretty good. They had character development and I was pretty depressed when the good characters (I don't want to give away spoilers) died. I thought Black Ops was way too trippy and I felt no connection to any of the characters. MWIII was Michael Bay on speed balls. As you all know, we like explosions. Explosions good. Character development and plot bad.

      Needless to say, we don't buy Call of Duty for its single player. The reason we all buy it is for the multiplayer. When MWIII came out all of my friends and their friends got it because we all had a great time playing together in MWII. Even the people who said they didn't want to get the next Call of Duty bought it just so they could play with each other. Call of Duty has become a game that is fueled by Group Conformity. Group Conformity is exactly how it sounds, we have a desire to conform to the group because we don't want to stand out. When we stand out we are judged and no one likes getting judged unless you are some strange masochist. Sometimes group conformity goes a little too far and it turns into a mob. However, I doubt that mobs pertain to the subject at hand.

      So now that you've bought the game, you're playing with your friends, it's a great time. Then you hit a little roadblock called: OMG WTF I TOTALLY SHOT THAT MOTHERFUCKER I HATE THIS FUCKING GAME DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE!!! Instead of putting down the controller we continue on playing. We slowly become more and more frustrated until we no longer enjoy the experience and you turn into the monster that you had no idea lived inside of you. Why? It's easy to put down the controller and walk away, but we insist on continuing.

      This is going to be weird but I'm going to relate this to drug addiction, mainly meth addicts. I'm doing this because I read a bittersweet book called Beautiful Boy a father's journey through his son's addiction I would highly recommend reading this not only because it is a good and pretty easy read, but because you really get the sense that drug addicts have no control over their addiction. First time meth users supposedly have one of the greatest (or scariest) experiences of their life. Afterwards they want more meth to try and attain that same high. Unfortunately the meth activated so many neurotransmitters that the amount needed to achieve that same high can never be attained. Call of Duty players may be desperately searching for that high. That one great game/killing spree where they get that adrenaline rush and that sense of accomplishment for mindlessly mowing down your enemies. Even when they can't achieve it they keep playing in hopes that they get that one good "high" from playing.

      Another thing I noticed while playing Call of Duty is the numbers that pop up. Not only do they have a plus sign in front of them, they pop up and have differing amounts for every variation of your kill. They are also yellow. Yellow (according to http://psychology.about.com/od/sensationandperception/a/color_yellow.htm) is the most-attention getting color. Bright yellow is also very stimulating and with long exposure builds up emotional energy. However, in short flashes it only causes a very small emotional response. Reading this I can probably say that whenever you get a kill or capture a point you are briefly stimulated. I don't know what it is stimulating but I can only guess that it stimulates the emotion related to reward.

      The numbers themselves are also very rewarding. Did you ever wonder why MWII increased their numbers to triple digits instead of sticking with double digits? We are naturally attracted to high numbers. We notice the diseases that have the most victims, we notice the amount of money that comes in our paycheck, we notice the amount of pardons that each US president has made right before the end of their term, and most importantly we (as gamers) notice high scores. I know (from experience) that I felt more satisfied with MWII than MWI because they gave out more points and I felt that each kill meant something. The Call of Duty games have become immensely satisfying because of the reward of points they give you.

      Now how do you avoid the frustration and anger of Call of Duty's multiplayer experience. I have found that playing with friends (I'm going to focus on the plural form because it is difficult to play with only one friend) is probably the best way to remedy this emotional roller coaster. It is much easier to go through bad times when you have a good emotional support system. That's why I chose to continue floating on in Bastion (note: PLAY BASTION). If you are suffering at least you are sharing your suffering with friends and usually you can make a joke of it to ease the pain. Survivors of the Holocaust said that one of the ways to keep your sanity was to keep your sense of humor. The other unorthodox method to countering the frustration and anger is to not think. If I am playing Call of Duty alone I have chosen that I no longer want to think for the next hour, but I still want to be physically stimulated by buttons and triggers. If you aren't thinking you aren't feeling and thus you aren't going to get frustrated or angry.

      That's my analysis. I could be entirely wrong in which case I would love to be corrected. I hope you all enjoyed.

      Good night. Good luck. Stay beautiful.

    • The Psychology of Minecraft

      6 years ago


      Why am I writing this? To tell you the truth, I am taking a lovely course called Introduction to Psychology. It's fun and everyone should take it once in their lifetime.

      Anyways, while reading the book I found a curious pyramid showing the "Hierarchy of Needs". Immediately my buddy and I looked at each other and both realized that this is exactly what Minecraft is all about.

      The pyramid is known as Maslow's hierarchy of needs named after Karl Marx the famous dictator of Uganda... I lied; it's named after the guy who thought of it: Maslow. The pyramid goes like this:

      • Self-transcendence needs: Need to find meaning and identify beyond the self.
      • Self-Actualization needs: Need to live up to our fullest and unique potential.
      • Esteem needs: Need for self-esteem, achievement, competence, and independence; need for recognition and respect from others.
      • Belongingness and love needs: Need to love and be loved, to belong and be accepted; need to avoid loneliness and separation.
      • Safety needs: Need to feel that the world is organized and predictable; need to feel safe.
      • Physiological needs: Need to satisfy hunger and thirst.

      We'll start with the lowest level and work our way up.

      The first thing everyone needs to do in Minecraft is to satisfy Steve's physiological needs which happen to be food, light, and shelter. If Steve doesn't receive food, light, and shelter he dies. Very simple.

      Safety needs are next, but what constitutes organized and predictable? One could argue that we could skip the physiological needs and move straight on to safety needs. Although this is kind of true I see safety needs as when the player has a set income of resources. This includes a farm, a mine, a forest, etc.

      The lowest two levels constitute mainly single-player. It is the higher levels that cross the barrier into Multiplayer. Belongingness and love needs are reliant on other people. We are social beings and require more than just sheep, cows and pigs. The player can try and find a wolf or a cat for a pet except the player is probably smart enough to realize that it's artificial love. Other players can give us that love and can also help us achieve the next level of needs.

      Esteem needs is the point in multiplayer where the player stops trying to survive and find things and actually starts to built monuments and towering structures. Then after the player builds them, he/she opens up their server or they take a picture and try and get people to recognize their spectacle.

      The highest two levels is when the player starts to move beyond Minecraft and continues on with real life.

      Self-actualization needs cannot be achieved by playing Minecraft. Our need to live up to our fullest potential isn't possible by playing Minecraft. Minecraft is a leisure activity. The player does put work and creativity into Minecraft, but Minecraft isn't really “work”. In order to live up to our fullest potential we must have a healthy balance of work and leisure. To put it simply, Minecraft is not expansive enough to allow us to utilize our fullest and unique potential.

      Lastly are Self-transcendence needs. The need to find meaning and identity beyond the self is found through the relationships we build. Relationships cannot be built (thoroughly) through a virtual environment. Again, Minecraft doesn't have the capacity to show us meaning in life or to show us who we are in the grand scheme of things. That is, unless you consider “The End” as a method of showing us meaning. Then disregard everything I just wrote.

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