Tobold's Blog
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Thought for the day: Memory

Why is it that I sometimes forget important real life stuff, but can still remember exactly where at the satyrs in Ashenvale to find the Warsong Oil for some quest I haven't done for over a year? A good memory is lowering the replay value of a MMORPG.
I wish I could forget the punchlines to my husband's favourite jokes because then I might be able to laugh at them the 25th time through :)
Because one theory about memory is that it's organized around associations. The location of the Warsong Oil is all tangled up with all of your other WoW memories, which you access every day.
what Hirvox said
What Spinksville said, to the 25th power.

Whenever this comes up, I'm reminded of a passage from a tv talk show about 15 years ago. This topic was discussed when one of the panelists said "what I always fear is that I'll lose something important whenever I hear something new. The other day, I heard that Venom's original bass player is called Cronos. Did I lose something now, like five decimals of π?"

That was fun and harmless enough, of course. But for me… I haven't forgotten that passage for 15 years. I have never heard Venom, but I still know that the original bassist is called Cronos (he's actually back in the band now – thanks Wikipedia). And hopefully, I will now have corrupted some of your minds in that same way. Cronos will yet ruin the world!

I like to think that our memory is a work of art. We know it's there and we know how to access it, but we don't always know what it means.

As for Ashenvale, I agree it enjoys a better place in memory than on-screen right now.
The same way I can replay level 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. in my head, but can't remember what I had for dinner without some soul searching.
Also what Hirvox said.

And in my opinion, having clear recall of previous actions in MMOs enhances replayability rather than lowers it.

For me, knowing where I am going and what I am doing in game is much more fun than learning, which is why I almost always enjoy quests more the second time I do them than the first.
The first generation of video gamers are in their early 50s and many of them still game, including playing MMOS. It will be interesting to see, over the next 30 years, on whether
playing MMOS helps or hurts elderly people showing signs of dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

= # # =
I have the same problem. Sometimes I forget what I wore yesterday and, on a rare occasion, I've even forgotten to eat dinner. But, I can remember so many aspects of so many video games its disturbing.

And I do agree - it can hurt replay. :(
Basically what Hirvox said.

I'm much the same in that respect. I can hardly remember what I had for breakfast but I remember levels or other things in games that I haven't played in years. It really does hurt the replay value because I'll get nostalgia and start playing an old game only to be flooded with memories of said game and become bored fairly quickly.
I quite like it that I know my way around Azeroth really well. A couple of years ago in the days before Questhelper a friend nicknamed me TomTom after the sat nav system. Of course Carbonite and Questhelper left me redundant to other people but it's still nice to be able to whip around the Barrens solo.
"A good memory is lowering the replay value of a MMORPG."
If replay means playing the same thing again and again (WoW alts, ...) I agree it's boring. But games, and particularly MMOG, should be thought "replayable". Randomization is a first step (Diablo maps random generation), but it's not enough : you may get bored of seeing always the same monsters you defeated years ago, they should not be here anymore.

But server-wide impacts are not very common in MMOs ...
Because you WANTED to find the Warsong Oil.

On the other hand you don want to give birthday present to Aunt Maurine. You just HAVE TO.
You are more likely to create and retain new memories when the stimulus is novel. You're day to day life is fairly routine, which is why you have trouble remembering the little things that happened yesterday. Video games are novel and we constantly move on to new zones, new levels, and new games while we're playing. This constant variety keeps us engaged and creating new memories.

If MMOs were like life you would spend almost all your time in the same zone and you would level up once a year. It probably wouldn't make for a great game.
To Void19: isn't that what the Sims is all about?

I agree with all the above comments - I can drive to work and I can forget whole parts of the journey, which is probably really quite worrying...
Gevlon and Hirvox present good viewpoints. As a kinesthetic learner, I present another: Effort invested.

You spend more time and activity finding the satyrs (and, from what I recall of the quest, hoping like hell for a drop) than you would for "oh yeah, there's an important date somewhere around here) because of an unwarranted reliance on outside support. I never remember a date I write on the calendar (and I rarely remember to check the calendar), which means that, for some odd reason, despite the fact that I'm a kinesthetic learner, writing down dates does little to remind me of their importance.

Instead, what I do is write whatever's important (buy milk on the way home, remember to look up the lab instructions online, etc) on a post-it which I then place in my pocket next to my wallet. As I take out my wallet at least four times during a normal weekday (two buses per trip between home and college), I feel the note and am thus reminded of it. What often happens is by the time I reach the campus I'm constantly thinking of the note in the back of my mind and thus no longer need the reminder.
Well done on the short posts too. They add some variety to your blog.
In juxtaposition to your experience, I'm new to the horde side and also leveling up a paladin.

Instead of letting it be a fresh experience as probably I should, I'm using questhelper, which sometimes misleads you. I killed satyrs and searched for oil where questhelper said it would be. It was only after leveling a little more and deciding to repay that area a visit that I ended up finding the oil in a different camp. D'oh!

Memory may have lessened your replay value, but I'm letting questhelper ruin mine. >.<
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