Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, June 02, 2015
 
Can't keep real life out of games

I recently argued that I would prefer game review scores not to be affected by politics. Most commenters responded that it is impossible to keep real life out of games, that a reviewer can't switch off his political opinions which then automatically change his impressions of a game. Okay. If we all accept that, then why is there such an uproar about about another intrusion of real life facts into games, money?

If two people live in the same area and work in the same company, we accept that it is possible that one of them lives in a nicer house and drives a nicer car to work. It is a fact of life, and economic models that tried to make everybody equal have clearly failed. It turned out that communism in practice isn't actually more fair than the free market, it just is a different bunch of people who end up with all the advantages.

The same now happens in games, especially MMORPGs. Flat payments models have failed, because they are in practice not actually more fair than models with variable payment, they just favor a different bunch of people. So all games now allow paying more for getting something more. Even subscription games allow you to get ahead faster by buying multiple accounts, or by buying in-game currency and lots of different nicer stuff. Just like the two guys from the same area, who still are equal in some ways like taking the same amount of time to drive to work but differ in how nice the car is in which they drive, two players of the same game now differ in function of how much money they spent on in-game comfort.

Just like the old apparatchiks weren't too happy with the fall of communism, because communism favored them, there are now people who were favored by the flat payment model because they had more time to spend than others, and these people are now complaining about "Pay2Win", as if that was any worse than "Grind2Win". Making success in games completely independent from success in real life favors those who aren't successful in real life. It was always clear that this was a situation that wasn't tenable in the long run, because game companies aren't charities. The people who make games need to be paid, and the people who invest in games need to get some return on investment. If game companies would somehow be forced to keep a flat rate for MMORPG, that flat rate would have needed to go up considerably to be able to finance the increasing cost of game development with decreasing numbers of players per game due to the overcrowding of the market.

A shopping mall that offers luxury goods isn't "exploitative" or "predatory". Some people can afford those luxury goods, others can't and are limited to window-shopping. Games with item shops are exactly the same, because let's face it, everything sold in an item shop is a luxury good which isn't necessary for survival. Sure, that provokes jealousies from the have-nots against the haves. But successful companies don't build business models which are primarily concerned with the sensibilities of the have-nots. Especially since we aren't talking about exclusion of the 99% here, we are talking $25 sparkly ponies and $70 monocles, not million dollar yachts. You only need a modicum of real world success to be able to afford most of the things on offer in an item shop.

A good argument can be made that life isn't fair. People are born with different social backgrounds and different degrees of talents useful for real world success. As we can't keep real life out of games, the unfairness of real life gets reflected in the games. If you can't afford the nicest house and the nicest car, it becomes possible that you won't have the shiniest gear in a virtual world either. That is just the reality of life, and railing against it serves very little. Suck it up and deal with it!

Comments:
Huge thumbs up. Could not agree more. (Echo chamber :))
 
Harsh but true...just like real life I guess.
 
I don't always agree with you but on this I agree 100%!
 
Its true however the difference in a game is that in order to draw the most players a developer would what their game to at least appear to be generally fair and even for all players.

Think about sports. A rich person could buy professional equipment, a trainer, etc, but at the end of the day in order to have a fair playing field everyone playing still has to follow the same rules.

I play golf occasionally. Someone with money does in fact have an advantage because they can buy really good golf clubs and can afford to play more games and have a trainer or caddy. But the game of golf is so dependant on skill that even with those advantages that person can still lose to someone with hand me down clubs who is a good player. (Or just lucky)

Games need to maintain an even playing field if they want to get a lot of players. Selling things is fine but it needs to be balanced to the point where a skilled player with no bought items can beat less skilled player with bought items. If buying something means you win 100% of the time then soon that game will have no players except for the people buying which will shrink the player base down to almost nothing. Then the people buying won't have much incentive to keep playing either.
 
Its true however the difference in a game is that in order to draw the most players a developer would what their game to at least appear to be generally fair and even for all players.

Think about sports. A rich person could buy professional equipment, a trainer, etc, but at the end of the day in order to have a fair playing field everyone playing still has to follow the same rules.

I play golf occasionally. Someone with money does in fact have an advantage because they can buy really good golf clubs and can afford to play more games and have a trainer or caddy. But the game of golf is so dependant on skill that even with those advantages that person can still lose to someone with hand me down clubs who is a good player. (Or just lucky)

Games need to maintain an even playing field if they want to get a lot of players. Selling things is fine but it needs to be balanced to the point where a skilled player with no bought items can beat less skilled player with bought items. If buying something means you win 100% of the time then soon that game will have no players except for the people buying which will shrink the player base down to almost nothing. Then the people buying won't have much incentive to keep playing either.
 
Tobold, how would it be if one of the players in your D&D game said to you "look, I'd like to buy the Sword of a Thousand truths off you. I'll slip you fifty euros, and it'll appear in the post". Wouldn't you feel that it would imbalance your game if players could buy equipment from you like that?

 
It's clear from reading your blog that you have a particular set of political beliefs, whether or not you overtly subscribe to a named political philosophy. What you rarely seem to acknowledge is that other people have political beliefs that differ from your own. Just as you see certain aspects of life and gaming as self-evident and inevitable, so others see different aspects in a similar way.

You aren't wrong. They aren't wrong. Circumstances differ. At this time, in the cultural and economic milieu in which we all currently operate, certain political and economic viewpoints hold the ascendancy. As you tacitly imply, however, that has not always been the case. For a long time, just in our own recent past, much of the world did operate under a substantively different model. It may do so again, even in our lifetimes. Just look at the news and I'm sure you'll understand the possibilities that face us as the century moves inexorably onwards.

Game companies operate to a large degree like sovereign nations. If City State Entertainment want to be gaming's Cuba then they have that option. As for the specific issue of Subscriptions and Fairness, it's worth remembering that Subscriptions operate very successfully in other parts of the entertainment and service industries. What's your mobile phone contract, your home insurance policy or your gym membership if not a subscription under another name?

 
Tobold, how would it be if one of the players in your D&D game ...

The smaller the niche, the easier it is to keep real life outside. A table full of D&D players can operate with a social contract that isn't feasible for a mass-market online game with hundreds of thousands of players.

Think about sports.

Brilliant example of what I'm saying in the above paragraph. Sports on a small scale can use a social contract to be fair and not influenced by wealth. But the sports competition between for example European soccer clubs is very much influenced by wealth.
 
What you rarely seem to acknowledge is that other people have political beliefs that differ from your own.

No, I fully acknowledge different political beliefs, but consider certain of them to have been on the losing side of history. Communism is dead, and isn't coming back anytime soon. There is still an ongoing discussion of how free exactly a free market should be, how much support for weaker members it should have, and how much influence the state should be allowed to exercise. But the basic premise of a free market is very much the clear winner over socialist/communist alternatives all over the free world.

While there are a handful of flat rate contracts in a free market economy, they aren't implemented due to a desire for more fairness. And (just like WoW) your flat rate mobile phone contract has options to pay more if for example you use bigger data volumes. For most things in the economy, like cars, no flat rates are available.
 
Tobold, your reply to my comment didn't really answer my question (which was "Wouldn't you feel that it would imbalance your game if players could buy equipment from you like that?") except indirectly by hinting that in your D&D game you would like to keep real-life outside.

Can't you also acknowledge the truth that many people would like to keep real-life outside their virtual worlds, too? And that is why there is "such an uproar about another intrusion of real life facts into games, money"?

You suggest that you don't want it intruding into your game. Can you accept that I don't want it intruding into my game, either? I acknowledge that you are in control of your game, and I am not in control of mine. That doesn't change my desire.

 
Well Dacheng, I'd point out a couple of differences there.

1) D&D is not a commercial enterprise. It's a group of friends, typically cooperating for entertainment. Wanting to keep commerce out of such an arrangement is normal.

2) D&D typically has the same group of people spending the same amount of time. The MMO sub market is substantially different, in that you have people who play 10 hours a month getting their ass kicked by people who play 400 hours a month.

The flat sub rate is the 10 hour a month people subsidizing the 400 hour a month people. F2P effectively makes the 400 hour a month player pay a price roughly in line with his consumption, and this is really the source of all the outrage. It's like people who have had rent subsidized apartments getting that subsidy taken away and realizing they can't really afford their four bedroom apartment in Manhattan anymore.

The fairest billing method would be to charge .25 an hour of playtime (or something like that), but for psychological reasons this isn't a very effective strategy. The sparkly pony makes the buy feel like he's getting something instead of catching up on his tab.
 
The problem is that why should anyone play a P2W game?
Winning in a P2W game only reflects ones wealth.
If I'm poor, I can't win.
If I'm rich, I'll pay lot of money to prove nothing but that I'm rich to total strangers.

Buying a Ferrari makes sense because it shows off my wealth to possible mating and business partners. Buying a pixel Ferrari, even if I paid the same will not get me laid or in any club, since outside I'm still just playing a "stupid video game".
 
I'm not arguing, 8f559f86. My question wasn't about commerce. It was about balance. "Wouldn't you feel that it would imbalance your game if players could buy equipment from you like that?"

 
@Dàchéng I even started my post with saying that I would love to exclude the politics of the real world from my games (and game reviews). If you tell me that I can't keep politics out, why would it be any more realistic to keep money out?

On the point of whether cash for magic items would imbalance my game, no it wouldn't. There is no competition between my players, it is group vs. environment. Any imbalance is a design error on my part. I could load up my players with magic items, and just increase the stats of the monsters accordingly, and the balance wouldn't change. What is proper and improper in my game of D&D doesn't depend on the game rules or the rules of the free market, it is a social contract between me and the players.
 
Wow! We're right back to the "No true Scotsman" debate.

People pay extra to gain an advantage all the time, especially the "Hard Corez" that scream the loudest. Double boxing is play to win, yo.

And since there is no practical way to limit that, and I don't even think you should even try... there will always be ways to pay for advantage.

Flat out selling items so overpowered as to be an "I win" button is stupid, as people will buy them and basically destroy your game through power inflation. (Players become 10 times more powerful, you make better monsters, now you need even MORE powerful items in the item shop...)

The "fair" subscription model is dead, we're going back to the "Pay more to get more" model games USED to use, and vitrually everything else uses now.
 
Doh! er... "Double boxing is play to win, yo." should be "Double boxing is PAY to win, yo!"
 
Tobold, I _don't_ tell you that you can't keep politics out. What made you think I did?
 
Well then, do you think an online virtual world full of thousands of players, all of which have real life opinions and a real life lifestyle can somehow be completely separated from influences of the real world? How?
 
The overall argument is incredibly specious. The game Monopoly works just fine without people trading their real-world cash for in-game money. In fact, all games can work without bringing in extra stuff beyond whatever it is that game is designed to test: skill, reflexes, chance, time spent, etc. That an MMO which features character progression ends up having the player who spent more time, you know, playing the game ultimately "winning" the game is not a bug. That is the entire point! It is complaining that someone who has spent more time reading a book is further along in the book than you.

The contention these days is that "money spent" is creeping in where it does not strictly need to exist, e.g. not fundamental to the game concept. EVE would still be EVE without PLEX. WoW would still be WoW without selling mounts. Do these things need to exist to keep the company which services the game in business? Maybe, maybe not. It is irrelevant in any case because the game as a coherent whole is independent of the poor decision-making of the company that administers it. Unless, of course, the "game" was expressly designed to extract dollars from the start.

On the point of whether cash for magic items would imbalance my game, no it wouldn't. There is no competition between my players, it is group vs. environment.

If one of your players was wealthier than the others, of course it would imbalance your game, even in a purely cooperative game, and especially in D&D. Give one player a Staff of Disintegration and watch the campaign unravel. Even discounting jealousy and other social friction, it will simply become more difficult to present challenges for the group when one player is more powerful than the others; either the guy with the staff is bored or the other players are overwhelmed.

You limit these imbalances for a better play experience, and game designers should be doing likewise.
 
Azuriel, you don't listen. Monopoly is yet another example of a small group around a table. We are talking big online multiplayer virtual worlds here with thousands of people. The social contract solution of the table game doesn't work in that environment.
 
So let's look at it this way. I'll use destiny as the example because its the game I'm playing at the moment.

If I imagine that there was a shop where you could buy the best PVE weapons and gear and then beat hard modes with it would that bother me?

No because someone buying it and doing PVE doesn't really affect me. Them doing that doesn't diminish my fun doing the same content.

Now if they could buy a gun or armor in PVP that let's them beat others 99% of the time, then yes that's affecting me and affects my fun with the game. I wouldn't play a game where I felt I had no chance to beat someone who paid for the best items.

I would guess most or at least a lot of people would feel the same way when it comes to competitive games. There isn't an incentive to play when you feel like you have no chance.

Its the reason I stopped playing games like Clash of Clans. I realized the hardcore players that regularly spent money would always crush people who didn't.

 
So, let's look at Clash of Clans.

I've never played it, because I think putting games on phones is just stupid to begin with. But if other people want to do that, more power to them.

Anyway. Apparently, everything in "Clash of Clans" is purchasable. However, those purchases only allow you to "progress" your level faster, they do not give you a PvP advantage in that you are matched against other equal level clans.

How is this unfair in any way?
 
They do though because in a clan war a clan of players with all the best troops will wipe the floor of a clan with lower ranked or less powerful troops.

The way matchmaking works it doesn't check for that. It only checks the number of stars and the rank of castles. Stars can be manipulated by throwing matches so powerful clans can purposefully get matched with weaker clans.
 
I think there's a fundamental difference in whether you're talking about games that are zero-sum or positive. If the only way you can win is by making someone else lose, then there's a lot of incentive for the game devs to make things a level playing field, and avoid adding money into the game. Like in chess, it would hurt the game itself if you could pay a fee to get uber-pawns or whatever.

But in most games, things aren't zero-sum. Yesterday I was questing around, killing some cultists, fighting ghosts to steal tomb relics (like one does), I joined in on a big fight where me and a few dozen other players killed a big dragon boss. Was lots of fun. In all of that, whether I'm wielding a weak-ass sword of utmost casualness, or a uber greatsword of swirly glowing trails with +20 power, neither one has any real impact on how much fun any other player could be having. So what's the harm in my buying my way to prettier and more effective gear?

Someone might get angry that I'm having more fun than they are?
 
The free market has been shown to have huge issues, and socialism is not dead.
 
That sounds like griefing, which is a different problem, not to be confused with P2W.
 
I totally agree. So you must be correct and brilliant. :-)
 
>The problem is that why should anyone play a P2W game? Winning in a P2W game only reflects ones wealth.

That's like saying, Why should anyone bother vacationing in Hawaii? All your coworkers and friends will just say you were able to go there not because of any sort of skill, but just because of your money. Your rich vacation didn't actually demonstrate anything worthwhile about you.

There are a lot of people out there (perhaps even most?) who view playing a game as equivalent to a vacation. Just a bit of escapism, solely for enjoyment. Not as a means to social ones-up-manship or whatever.

I pay $40 so I can wander around in a pretty forest beating up monsters and collecting herbs. I'd pay $45 for a completely different game where I run around a slightly prettier forest with nicer character models. What's the difference between that and just paying $5 in the first game to buy some totes sexy armor skins?
 
We are talking big online multiplayer virtual worlds here with thousands of people. The social contract solution of the table game doesn't work in that environment.

It has nothing to do with "social contract." The boundaries of the game are as ironclad as the designers wish to make them. You can't buy more Monopoly money because rules do not exist to do so. You couldn't (legitimately) buy WoW gold up until a few months ago. The rules were perfectly fair for everyone before cash shops, and not in the "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges" sense of today.

You claim that flat payment models have failed due to unfairness, but that's silly. Flat payment "failed" because it's actually more profitable to not offer it and instead ask for unlimited amount of money from each customer. It is not in any way better for the game concept itself, which hitherto only relied on direct input from the player (as opposed to the player's wallet). The game element itself is weaker in every case because it is no longer a contest between the same abilities amongst players.
 
You can't buy more Monopoly money because rules do not exist to do so.

There are people out there who play Monopoly with real money. No rules are ever ironclad, many people have different house rules for all sorts of games.

The game element itself is weaker in every case because it is no longer a contest between the same abilities amongst players.

You will never convince me that the player having 10 hours per week time to play and the player having 100 hours per week time to play are "fair", or that the winner in that contest is determined by who of the two has more "ability".

Stars can be manipulated by throwing matches so powerful clans can purposefully get matched with weaker clans.

So by manipulating ratings a clan who never paid a cent can beat a clan whose players spend hundreds of dollars. How exactly is that an argument against item shops? It appears to me that if Clash of Clans had no item shop at all, you'd still have exactly the same problem.


 
Azuriel says:
"You claim that flat payment models have failed due to unfairness..."

No. They have failed because of abuse. In hindsight, the abuse should have been apparent sooner as it was a reaction to the ability to play as long as you wished for no extra charge. And, if you were willing to pay for multiple, really cheap subs, you could amplify that abuse by using multiboxing as a force multiplier.

The pendulum of the free market is swinging back into correction with "pay for use" pricing systems.
 
There are people out there who play Monopoly with real money. No rules are ever ironclad, many people have different house rules for all sorts of games.

That is no longer Monopoly they are playing; it's their own version, which is a different game entirely. It's Monopoly + these other rules.

You will never convince me that the player having 10 hours per week time to play and the player having 100 hours per week time to play are "fair", or that the winner in that contest is determined by who of the two has more "ability".

Time is the fairest possibly measure of anything. Unless someone dies mid-week, everyone has the same 168 hours of existence. The same cannot be said of anything else - certainly not reflexes, athletic ability, intelligence, etc. I mean, if your argument is that is "nothing can ever be fair so who cares," then I'll stop posting. But as I said before, if the game is inherently testing time-spent (which all games with character progression do), then by definition it is fair for one person to spend 10 hours and another spend 100 hours. The 100 hours guy will win fair and square, just as the person with better athletic ability will win at basketball, just as the person with better Chess abilities will win at Chess, etc etc etc.

You can't remove politics because human beings are the ones playing these games. You can however remove the overt influence of money within the game space. The best games typically do.

@Smokeman
The pendulum of the free market is swinging back into correction with "pay for use" pricing systems.

And the corresponding erosion of Consumer Surplus that this represents should be fought by every sane, non-nihilistic individual. It reduces your favorite game experience of all time to that of the shortest time-wasting game you got off of a Humble Bundle, by making them equivalent in value. Corporations are not entitled to the extraction of that value; that is for us to enjoy.

Luckily, for now, this "correction" isn't actually occurring. Bandwidth caps are being fought off all over the US, data caps on cell phones are on the rise, and over 90% of people playing F2P games never make a single purchase. Subscription-based MMOs are on the way out, but that is largely because they can no longer compete (or are willing to) with the Consumer Surplus generated by the competition.
 
Time is the fairest possibly measure of anything. Unless someone dies mid-week, everyone has the same 168 hours of existence.

168 hours of existence per week is not the same as 168 hours of time available to play.

Time is fair if you create rules that make sure that everybody plays for exactly the same time. A game of football makes sure that both teams are on the field at exactly the same time for exactly the same time. If you would allow one team, which just happens to have more free available time to go on the field and score goals while the other team wasn't there, the game wouldn't work any more.

Synchronicity isn't necessary for a MMORPG, but if you wanted to make it fair you would need to put in a time limit, let's say 2 hours per day, so that there is not such a huge difference in hours per week played.
 
P.S. Even Monopoly has a time restriction. Would you play a game of Monopoly against me where I get 1 hour of head-start and can already run around the board buying streets before you even begin? If that wouldn't be fair in Monopoly, why do you think it is fair in MMORPGs?
 
@ Tobold

You will never convince me that the player having 10 hours per week time to play and the player having 100 hours per week time to play are "fair", or that the winner in that contest is determined by who of the two has more "ability".

Oh come on, Tobold. Time if fair for everyone, and you cannot twist the reality of existence to suit your own ideology.

Can we agree that a "game" has rules and a clearly defined win condition?

Yes? Good.

Can we agree that leisure activities may, or may not have rules and a clearly defined win condition?

Yes? Good.

If I watch TV for 10 hours of my 168 available each week, I do not win anything if you only watch TV for 5 hours.

However, if prior to the beginning of the week we agree that whoever watches TV the most number of hours will win, with the other person doing their laundry for the week. However, we didn't clearly define the rules on what constitutes "watching TV the most number of hours", and you use your wallet and hire someone to watch TV for you..which allows you the easy win. We set our own personal "win condition", a win condition that did not exist prior to us creating it, and this is the same thing that occurs in virtual worlds when certain people place their own "win conditions" on certain activities in a game that was "designed" with grind elements and requires a "time" commitment to play. The same holds true for players who play games that are designed with P2P features, who feel slighted when they cannot keep up with their more wealthy counterparts.

I can only speak for myself, but I play MMO's as a means of entertainment, not competition, and my allotment of time is limited to activities that I enjoy within the MMO's that I spend my leisure time on. However, I respect you or any other persons right to spend your time and/or money to engage in activities that allow you the same level of enjoyment.

The issue here is that the payment models are coming full circle in who they intend to serve, and I do not think there can ever be a fair and level field between the two lifestyle preferences. It’s the business/payment model(s) that encourages the design elements of MMO's – that only later get recognized as flaws. Whether it be grind elements that extort time in subscription model MMO's, or whether it be elements that extort money in P2P activities...we're only limited by our personal preference of which we are willing and able to support. However. at the end of the day both play-styles are slaves to whatever the developers decide to throw at us and, as is evident, there will be growing pains.
 
You might as well say that money is fair to everyone, and you cannot twist the reality of existence to suit your own ideology.

There is absolutely no difference between somebody using his larger pool of available time to reach a personal win condition in a MMORPG and somebody using his larger pool of available money to reach a personal win condition. In both cases the expense of a resource results in an advancement in the game, and that advancement is not based on "skill", but on the amount of the resource spent.

Any comparison with other games fails, because sports or board games all have restrictions to *both* time and money that can be spent on the game. Chess has a clock, so does every sports match, and you can't take more turns than your fellow players in a board game.

What Azuriel calls a "consumer surplus" I call a "basement dweller surplus", and as Smokeman says the system has failed due to abuse. Neither game companies nor normal players are supporting a system any more which favors unemployed basement dwellers over normal players. MMORPGs are a service industry, and payment for services needs to be proportional to the service received. Which means more service for people willing to pay more, and less advantages for people who just pay a basic flat rate and then abuse it by using it 16 hours a day.
 
The problem is that different models affect quality in different ways (mind you, artists in various fields have been arguing about this for a long time).

At the very least, it's hard to look at the recent change in game payment models and say it has been good for the sort of game quality that we like to think we like.

It may not be the only thing to blame - casualisation in the MMO sector may be equally to blame, and these things are mutually reinforcing.

The war isn't over.
 
>However, I respect you or any other persons right to spend your time and/or money to engage in activities that allow you the same level of enjoyment.

Would it upset you if someone with superior resources was able to enjoy something more than you? Does it bother you to know that wealthier people, more skilled people, or people with more free time, are able to achieve a more enjoyable game experience than you will see? Does the idea of CEO's on private yachts having orgies with supermodels make you bitter?

People seem somewhat accepting of spending money or grinding to get to where anyone else could get if they were skilled enough. It seems a whole different thing to get access to a better experience. Like how only people who can afford to buy an expansion get access to new zones, or whatever.
 
Hi Tobold,

I’ve been a reader for many years, and haven’t really commented very much – however I think I need to respectfully disagree with a few comments.

Firstly, on the issue of keeping “politics” out of game reviews.

Many others have made that point, and it is impossible for anyone to act as the ideal “neutral observer”. If films, books and other forms of entertainment are subject to lively discussion, examination and debate then why should computer games be exempt? Because some people don’t agree? No piece of entertainment exists in a cultural vacuum. Asking that others switch of their ability to observe, criticise and comment is not realistic.

Even if we attempted to inhibit discussion about cultural and societal issues reflected in games, how would that prohibition be enforced? Who are the gatekeepers? Who decides what is appropriate comment or not?

If a right-wing Libertarian want’s to criticise a TV series like the “West Wing” for its liberal and progressive values then let them. If a feminist want’s to criticise the portrayal of women in games, then let them. You don’t have to agree. Isn’t this how the market place of ideas works? Freedom of inquiry is critical to a healthy and flourishing society.

As to your second part of your argument, I agree there is little point complaining about “pay2win”. As someone with a career and a family, I don’t have endless hours to sink into MMOs. However micro-transactions suit my playstyle perfectly. Do I want a nice piece of shiny armour for my character? I’m happy to pay for it.

However, your argument falls down where you state:

“A good argument can be made that life isn't fair. People are born with different social backgrounds and different degrees of talents useful for real world success. As we can't keep real life out of games, the unfairness of real life gets reflected in the games. If you can't afford the nicest house and the nicest car, it becomes possible that you won't have the shiniest gear in a virtual world either. That is just the reality of life, and railing against it serves very little. Suck it up and deal with it!”

Issues of economic justice and equity in the real world are contested, and many people don’t want to “suck it up”. Many fight for equitable and “fair” allocations of societal resources and opportunities (and I’m not talking about socialism).

Does the inequality get reflected in games where those with more resources get to have more? Of course. However that is reflective of societal inequalities. Is that worth fighting over? Perhaps, perhaps not. But is it worth researching? Perhaps.

But then again, why shouldn’t an economist look at the interaction and game and real world economies and comment on the potential unequal distribution of resources? There are researchers who study the luxury economy, and what its implications are from a societal and economic perspective.

For example, an economist may want to study those more financial resources and how it effects there purchasing decisions, and then how it impacts a game economy. Does that tell us anything about the “real world”? After all game economies can be used as simulator .

Many discoveries in science and the humanities have been serendipitous. A seemingly obscure and niche piece of research can help unlock greater a greater understanding of more universal “truths”.

Stating “Keep your politics out of game reviews!” or “Real life is hard suck it up!” inhibits debate, discussion and potential avenues of inquiry.
 
You might as well say that money is fair to everyone, and you cannot twist the reality of existence to suit your own ideology.

Sorry?
Are you living in some sort of communist state we're not aware of, that allocates a fixed and identical amount of money to all its citizens?

Azuriel is 100% right, and you're just doing acrobatics to dodge the argument.

BTW do you people pay for the internet as a flat rate or per GB? Because I'd propose than everyone pay by GB to remove the inherent unfairness of those who download little who are subsidizing all the ones which spend their time watching youtube.....

 
Are you living in some sort of communist state we're not aware of, that allocates a fixed and identical amount of money to all its citizens?

No, I am living in a free western democracy with capitalism in which every citizen has exactly the same opportunity to become rich and famous. Because that is what you are saying about time: Everybody has the same *opportunity* to play 24 hours a day, so time is fair. But in reality the *available* time for gaming is as unequally distributed as money is.

If time is fair because everybody has the same *opportunity* to use time for gaming, then money is fair too, because everybody has the same opportunity to earn money to pay for games.

BTW do you people pay for the internet as a flat rate or per GB?

Depends on which platform. I recently made tried watching Netflix on a 4G connection on my iPad and ended up paying a ton of money because there was a 2GB/month data limit on my 4G internet connection. For my VDSL connection at home I have no data limit, but I *do* need to pay extra for that, the basic rate has a data limit. I wouldn't take a no-limit flat rate for unlimited video streaming for granted: Unless you live under a rock you should be aware of the ongoing discussion about "net neutrality", which is basically exactly that discussion whether somebody who watches lots of videos should pay more or suffer from a slower connection.
 
No, I am living in a free western democracy with capitalism in which every citizen has exactly the same opportunity to become rich and famous.

I don't know which democracy it is then, since in the ones I know the #1 predictor for wealth is the wealth of the parents, which is not really compatible with having "exactly the same opportunity".

And you're again mixing time and money.

In the end it seems to me that you don't like that games you're succesful in are called "P2W", even when you agree that money comes into the equation. P2W is a statement of a fact, i.e. that more money gives an advantage. In no way it criticizes the rest of the game (even if it clearly contributes to killing immersion, since in brings real life stuff into the equation). A game can be P2W and still be a very good game. Simply it'll be a game where progression/success/performance depend not only on talent and investment (time, training, etc) but also on money spent. Of course this may have some...."unintended" consequences, and it seems to me that those are the ones which are more problematic.

On the internet: data limit != per GB. "Per-GB" pricing is e.g. 0.5E / GB, starting from the first byte. Telecommunications (phone, adsl) have been moving away from this, becoming more and more similar to "subscription".
 
the #1 predictor for wealth is the wealth of the parents, which is not really compatible with having "exactly the same opportunity".

You are AGAIN confusing equality of outcome with equality of opportunity. Actual wealth and any statistical indicator of it is an outcome. We all agree that outcomes are inequal, for both disposable income and disposable time. But there are enough examples of people being successful far beyond what those "statistical predictors" predicted. We have the possibility for social upwards mobility. That a statistical majority of people doesn't make use of that possibility is their problem.

Note that a statistical majority of people doesn't have 16 hours of disposable time for gaming either.

In the end it seems to me that you don't like that games you're succesful in are called "P2W"

I don't care what the basement dwellers call the games I like. I am just publishing the counterpoint to the basement dweller point of view that progress in a game should be proportional to time spent in the game, because that point of view is just their selfish opinion. Games that reward you proportionally to time spent are in fact not good game design, nor are they a good business model. I am cheering on the game companies that have realized this and started making better designed games for normal people with jobs and families. The whole "Pay2Win" discussion is just a smear campaign from the basement dwellers, and I can't just let that stand unopposed.
 
That a statistical majority of people doesn't make use of that possibility is their problem.

Ah yes, you can never go wrong with blame the victim......

Games that reward you proportionally to time spent...

Yeah of course, God forbid games where playing more makes you a better player. I suggest that you propose a modification of chess where you can buy additional pieces, in order to improve on "chess game design".

 
Ah yes, you can never go wrong with blame the victim......

It is you who is blaming the victims of the current system which disfavors those with less available time.

Yeah of course, God forbid games where playing more makes you a better player.

Oh stop with that old strawman. Nobody objects to games where the you get better with time because you increase your skills. I would be much in favor of MMORPGs where at the level cap there is absolutely no more gear progression: You get the best in slot items shortly after hitting the level cap, and from there on all progress ONLY happens because of you as the player getting better.

But you know as well as I do that this isn't the case. All those games have mechanics in place where you can improve your gear by grinding, e.g. by grinding the Apexis Crystals in World of Warcraft. Are you really telling me that it is fair that you can get Apexis gear for grinding, but exactly the same gear will become horribly unfair when you can get it for gold in patch 6.2?
 
I would be much in favor of MMORPGs where at the level cap there is absolutely no more gear progression:

Me too, I think. In any case it's clearly not what the majority of gamers want. I don't even know if such a MMO exists.

Apart from the Apexis Crystal example, which is really not the best one, since the "grind" is actually very little "grindy", it's not that it becomes horribly unfair, it just becomes P2W. I don't find P2W "unfair", I just find that it screws up the game in itself. I mean, I'm now playing ArcheAge which is your basic cash-shop-grab P2W Korean MMO. Sure, I love the graphics (cryengine lighting rocks) and relaxing with farmville 3D and sailing. But as a *game* it's completely messed up by underlying P2W design, which is why I don't see me playing it as long as I played WoW.

 
> the #1 predictor for wealth is the wealth of the parents, which is not really compatible with having "exactly the same opportunity"

I've always been somewhat confused by people getting upset at this. If you were to do a survey of people asking 'What's the point of your life? How do you decide if you've had a good life?', a large group of people will say that what they want most in life is for their kids to have advantages they never had, for them to turn out better.

Do you think such people are immoral or evil for wanting to promote inequality of opportunity? Is it wrong to spend whatever resources you want, in order to give your kid a better chance of success than other kids? Should we forbid private tutoring and the like for reducing equality? Should we punish those who strive to become better, if they're already above the median?
 
Do you think such people are immoral or evil for wanting to promote inequality of opportunity?

Not really, I mean, I can perfectly understand that they want that inequality of opportunity because it suits them. But with the same logic you must agree with someone who is NOT in that situation and is then against this.

Should we punish those who strive to become better, if they're already above the median?

"Above the median".... who? The parents or the kids? All parents want more for the kids, and for kids it's a bit early to tell.
 
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