Tobold's Blog
Friday, August 22, 2014
 
Playing for challenge vs. playing to win

In the "real gamer" discussion the proponents of the term linked it to challenge. Quote: "A real gamer then would be someone who sees games in general or even only a specific game not as something to just have fun with but as an actual challenge.". They see people who play for the challenge as real gamers, and those who play for fun, for the story, for exploration, for social contacts, or for a myriad of other reasons as not real gamers. But is that a useful distinction, players who care for the challenge and players who don't? One other commenter asked: "Would sombody who uses cheats on their games ... be considered a true gamer?". And that question reveals a whole other dimension of player behavior.

Obviously the player who cheats cares for the challenge. A casual player who just plays for fun, for the story, etc., doesn't cheat because that wouldn't align with his goals. But while the player who cheats thinks the challenge is important, he doesn't actually want to beat it. He just wants to win, have the status of a winner who beat the challenge, without actually having to go through all of the effort.

Google the name of you favorite game and "cheat", and you will find tons of offers helping you to cheat with the game. Many game companies running competitive multi-player games spend the majority of their operating expenses on anti-cheating measures. There is a constant arms race between people who program cheat software and people who program anti-cheat software. Video game cheating is a multi-million dollar business.

But in other games the distinction between people who play for the challenge and people who just want to win is a lot more subtle. Take MMORPGs for example: You would assume that somebody who plays for the challenge will try to increase the challenge. But the most frequently observed behavior is one of trying to diminish the challenge: Players want the best possible gear, they want to play with others only if those others are highly competent, and they want to raid only dungeons where everybody is well prepared and well trained for every encounter. Apart from Gevlon there aren't many people who say "I raid for the challenge, so I'll raid in blue gear". Nobody says "I raid for the challenge, so I am grateful for the other players in my raid that don't play so well and thus increase my challenge.". Few people raid for the challenge and go into the raid dungeon without having studied internet sites telling them how to beat the bosses. You will find guilds boasting about their "server first" raid achievement, without mentioning that this server first was carefully orchestrated and made easier by a month of training the raid on the test servers. It is very clear that all of these people play to win, and not because they enjoy an actual challenge.

People really just wanting to be seen as winners are also behind many of the social conflicts in MMORPGs, for example the endless discussion about welfare epics or easy mode dungeons. Playing for the challenge is a very personal thing, nobody else but yourself can tell you whether you deserve to be proud of having beaten a challenge. If you play for the challenge, you don't care what gear somebody else is wearing or what places he is allowed to visit. Playing for winning status symbols is a social thing: Epics are not just making the next win easier, they also serve as a social status symbol distinguishing the "winners" from the "losers". So other people being able to get those status symbols in a different manner is a big thing if you play to win, and not just for the challenge.

I believe that many of those who attach the silly label of "real gamer" to themselves are not actually playing for the challenge. They play for the status that comes with beating a challenge, even if they have to cheat or manipulate the circumstances in their favor to get the win without much of a challenge. Challenge is just an euphemism, and not a widely shared real value.

Comments:
Keep in mind that Gevlon didn't raid in blues for the challenge. He raided in blues to prove a point. Keep in mind how often he posted damage meters, calling people out for 'damaging lower than the healer'.
 
"Players want the best possible gear, they want to play with others only if those others are highly competent, and they want to raid only dungeons where everybody is well prepared and well trained for every encounter."

the challenge should be in the difficulty of content not because you carry un-prepared people with you. Gear reduce the challenge but is also a necessary reward. Other rewards could be just cosmetic. Actually in wow now there are challenge modes that you run in a fixed gear and you get a rank. A lot of people doing it and try to be on top (not me).

I go to play soccer with my friends and I want the opposite team to be good and have a good match. I also want my team to be very good too. If the opposite team is not good I ll try to find a good opposite team instead of lessen the quality of my team or play with less players. Why? Because I enjoy football when all of my team play good football.

Now if I win 5-0 then so be it. I enjoyed it and I also won. I will not lessen the quality of my team just because the match needs to be close. So your example is false...just because a gamer needs to be in a group with skilled gamers and well prepared doesn't mean they do not want the challenge..it is perfectly possible to seek both challenge and win.
 
.it is perfectly possible to seek both challenge and win.

Yes, but which one is more important? If in a game like WAR a guild does a keep raid at 3 a.m. in the morning, isn't that indicative that they care a lot more about winning than they care about the challenge of PvP?
 
You can call this a strategy not as "not caring about challenge". Also a good player may not always seeking for challenge.

The point I wanted to make in my post above, is not so much about challenge vs win, but more about the reason you justify if someone is seeking challenge or not.

And specifically the choice of players that are good. Playing in a good team is always enjoyable, either you win or lose. Playing in a bad team is frustrating, even if you win at the end. You can argue that frustration = challenge but is not always the case.
 
Playing in a good team is always enjoyable, either you win or lose. Playing in a bad team is frustrating, even if you win at the end. You can argue that frustration = challenge but is not always the case.

That is not so black and white. How much variance towards less skill and more skill do you allow? I know plenty of cases of people who refuse to play with anybody even slightly worse than they are, but don't mind playing with people who are much better. Playing with good team mates is enjoyable, but playing with teammates all of which are better than you are means that it is you who is being carried.
 
I don't agree about only those who want to win cheating. As a kid growing up cheat codes were something we used for fun. They might make winning a lot easier but none of us looked at our cheat wins as legitimate wins. Although I remember some games, like Gradius, that were so tough, as a child, that the only way we could play it and have fun was to cheat, but even then we never got close to winning.
 
I think there is a huge difference between using a cheat code in a single-player game and to use a cheat software like an aimbot or wallhack in a multiplayer game.
 
Cheating to me is a meta game above the actual in-game challenge. Gaming the game.

I personally prefer the in game challenge of mastery - like demon souls, or XCOM ironman. The thing is, many games have poorly designed components than provide zero challenge outside a time investment. When a two year old can do it, I want to skip it. Hence cheating. I'm sure you've done similar in a tabletop campaign, changed the rules to fit the playerbase.

But not everyone is of the same cloth, certainly.
 
People obviously don't play Chess for the challenge either, or we would see more of them opening 1.h3
 
People obviously don't play Chess for the challenge either

Strawman!

You need to differentiate between an effort to play well, and an effort to not having to play well because you somehow cheated or manipulated the game in your favor. A chess player who puts a laxative into the drink of his opponent in order to win cares more about winning than about the challenge.
 
> Nobody says "I raid for the challenge, so I am grateful for the other players in my raid that don't play so well and thus increase my challenge."

FWIW, I've been known to say that I'll run pugs, just so that dealing with bad performers will force me to learn to heal better. So not nobody. :P
 
Whoa! I don't know who "they" is, but since you quote me - without context again, I feel like you meant me. I explicitely stated in my answer that you misunderstood me. That challenge was only a part of it, not not even the most important one.

And now in your post you purposely misrepresent my argument completely falsifying what I wrote.

It's like you selectivley take from the comments whatever seems to support your worldview.

Well. It's your blog. Do what you want. But this is soooo low. After years of reading your blog this is really really unexpected. Mind: blown.
 
And now in your post you purposely misrepresent my argument completely falsifying what I wrote.

WHAT? I didn't falsify anything!!! I quoted you directly without any modification, shortening, or alteration. You said that definition of what a real gamer is exactly like I quoted it, and people can verify that by looking up your comment in the other thread.
 
I don't think the 1.h3 is a strawman if you are talking about increasing the challenge by raiding with bad players - how's that different from going into a chess game with bad pawn structure?

Personally, I did enjoy the challenge in WoW of going into dungeons with decent players whose gear was poor, or inexperienced players capable of learning. A few wipes never bothered me. But someone who won't learn and makes the same mistake repeatedly - that's no fun.
 
"overcoming challenge = win" is the job of the game developer, not the gamer.

Winning a properly written game is a challenge.

In games with poor rules, everyone can win via no-life, so "real gamers" should avoid these games. Of course these games live on the very possibility that bad players can win and feel like being "real gamers". The "serious gamers, only 561+ ilvl" (he is having exactly 561) is a perfect example of this kind.
 
"Obviously the player who cheats cares for the challenge. A casual player who just plays for fun, for the story, etc., doesn't cheat"

I would argue the complete opposite.
Someone who cares for the challenge won't cheat, because that destroys the challenge.
On the other hand, someone who plays for the story could use cheats to get past a challenge that's blocking his progression in the story.
 
You don't realise that with all the options in your mmorpg to lower challenge, that all the people who want challenge just passed in on by. Remeber how you found wildstar to be hard - why'd they make that? To try and scoop up the challenge seeking players.

What you think is an experience with challenge seeking players is actually an experience with a game that can undermine challenge (all challenge, except for bums on seats challenge), and so drove away challenge seekers (except perhaps in PVP)

Don't use a game where you can diminish challenge as your example when it comes to challenge seeking players. You know how challenge seeking players seek challenge? By not playing games where you can diminish challenge!

You've identified another type of player. And frankly the missidentification would be insulting if it weren't accidental.

Playing for the challenge is a very personal thing, nobody else but yourself can tell you whether you deserve to be proud of having beaten a challenge.

For you.

No, other people can and do allow others to judge their accomplishments.
 
just passed in on by. Remeber how

* just passed it on by. Remember...

I Wish I could edit typos.
 
You don't realise that with all the options in your mmorpg to lower challenge, that all the people who want challenge just passed in on by.

That is one of the best examples of why not to believe the people who say they want challenge. Wildstar did only offer dungeons in heroic difficulty, not in some equivalent of WoW normal difficulty, saying that if the dungeon exists in normal, people won't run it in heroic. Why? If somebody would really be interested in challenge, then he would certainly choose the challenging version over the easy version, wouldn't he?
 
he would chose the most efficient way. Again, MMOs are competitive games. Just because you can run faster doesn't mean that you must shot your leg in order to make the race challenging.

If the most efficient way to be better (aka get better gear since thats what the endgame is in themeparks) is also a very easy way and everyone can do it then you might get bored and quit.

once again, I don't consider myself "real gamer" but I still find your logic false. In a single player game Challenge > Efficiency but in an MMO Efficiency > Challenge. The problem is when there is only efficiency and no challenge.
 
Saying you play "for efficiency" is the same as saying that you play to win. If there were two ways to the same reward, you would take the easier way. That is exactly what I am talking about: All this talk about playing for challenge is just hogwash, you only want the reward at the end of the challenge, not the actual challenge.
 
Totally agree with your assessment. Most video game players in MMORPGS are looking for status symbols not actual game challenges. It is in their interest to keep as many people away from status symbols as possible that give them cache as real gamers.

"Keep in mind that Gevlon didn't raid in blues for the challenge. He raided in blues to prove a point. Keep in mind how often he posted damage meters, calling people out for 'damaging lower than the healer'."

In WoW, I used to run my Paladin as a healer in dungeons and city raids way back when. I add some idiot post damage meters and lambast me for crappy damage. I told him I was healing, he/she answered "so what!". I stopped running dungeons as a healer. Who wants to deal with that mindset.
 
That is one of the best examples of why not to believe the people who say they want challenge. Wildstar did only offer dungeons in heroic difficulty, not in some equivalent of WoW normal difficulty, saying that if the dungeon exists in normal, people won't run it in heroic. Why? If somebody would really be interested in challenge, then he would certainly choose the challenging version over the easy version, wouldn't he?

You don't see you answering yourself.

If you take wildstar as the challenging version and wow as the easy version, yes, the challenge seeker chooses the challenging version. Which is wildstar.

The person who isn't a challenge seeker chooses wow. For pretty much the same thing with less chance of failure (not to be confused with 'with less effort').

Saying you play "for efficiency" is the same as saying that you play to win. If there were two ways to the same reward, you would take the easier way. That is exactly what I am talking about: All this talk about playing for challenge is just hogwash, you only want the reward at the end of the challenge, not the actual challenge.

No, they are not the same thing.

It's because of your attitude of 'Playing for the challenge is a very personal thing, nobody else but yourself can tell you whether you deserve to be proud of having beaten a challenge' that you think efficiency and challenge seeking are the same thing.

If you have no care about what other people think of your accomplishments, then you are not going to grasp how challenge seeking is different from efficiency.

Efficiency doesn't give a crap whether anyone else would praise your efforts.

Challenge seeking is seeking the praise of others by trying to do things that others see as accomplishments. It's incredbily social in that regard.

Again, since you can't relate to the latter, you're going to fail to see the difference.
 
You're throwing up smoke and mirrors to deflect from the question why IN WILDSTAR we couldn't have an easier version of the same dungeons in normal mode. My answer is that if you put an easier version in, your illusion of the challenge seekers would shatter, because everybody would go for the easy reward and nobody would want to play an actual challenge. And that is pretty much the argument the so-called hardcore use when saying why they don't want easy versions of the same content.
 
And you're running off raw assertion by, as part of your claim, stating that if wildstar did that, everyone would stay on board and no one would leave due to that change.

It's parochial thinking - you're literally thinking everyone who remains playing in the game is everyone, and simply not even thinking that 'everyone' aught to include people who left the game.

It's tiresome to be accused of smoke and mirrors when you've got a bit set of blinkers on. It's not a trick that there's stuff outside the blinkers!
 
As a side note, consider the disdain Dave Sirlin shows toward WOW. Do you think he plays it?

Are you going to ignore him as a player of WOW and say all 'supposed' challenge seeking players are playing WOW and they are all dialing down difficulty?

Take into account those who abandoned the game precisely because it could be dialed down. No, that's not smoke or mirrors - it's basic statistics.
 
Take into account those who abandoned the game precisely because it could be dialed down. No, that's not smoke or mirrors - it's basic statistics.

Now you are simply lying. There is no such thing as a statistic that shows that X million people left World of Warcraft BECAUSE "single issue X". World of Warcraft has a very smooth overall rise and fall of subscription number curve which can be to 100% explained by the age of the game. Every single expansion brings a peak, followed by a trough, but overall the trajectory follows exactly the one predicted by Raph Koster for ALL MMORPGs.
 
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