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my life as a night elf priest

Leveling up and down

While reading Part 2 of My Life as a Night Elf Priest I was thinking about how Nardi goes back once again to McGonigal’s main point that video games offer solid concrete opportunities at progress and ways for us to visualize this progress. While discussing this, Nardi says: “It always, satisfyingly, moved upward. In real life, progress is up and down when there is progress at all.”(40) It struck me when I read those sentences that when I play video games it is often the fact that you cannot move backwards that leaves me wanting more.

When playing more realistic video games, it is the satisfaction of advancing and maintaining your advance that makes me exciting, but in how WoW is being described to me that is not a possibility. To better illustrate what I am talking about, in many real time strategy games like Age of Empires, you level up your technology while expanding your empire. Often times, the more advanced your technology the more requirements there are to produce that piece of technology. Sometimes you require a certain number of city centers or more resources. In that way it is possible to lose your footing with an advanced technology and have no way to actually produce it even though you have attained it. Similarly when you are expanding your empire, simply because you have expanded your borders doesn’t mean that you will hold those borders. If you expand too far your units will be stretched too thin and it will be an easy task for an enemy to breach your borders.

As a gamer, it is this aspect that these cultural revolution games which are being mentioned time and again seem to lack, which also explains why I have not invested much time in most of them. We have already seen games that offer this moving forward and back capability, but I wonder if that will be the next big thing in video games.

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Discussion

3 thoughts on “Leveling up and down

  1. An interesting side to the ‘ability to move up and not down’ is the way League of Legends is Ranked. Like most RTS (real time strategy) games there is a ranked version in which a win will boost your rank or losing lowers your rank. This can be a negative aspect to a game often and what some players view as ‘ELO Hell’ (ELO is the rank of League of Legends). That leads into the social aspect which shows a decline in relations between players. There is not cultural revolutions in League of Legends but to the players, losing a single game may be extremely detrimental. It would be interesting to see how they could change this for the better, maybe using some of MgGonigal’s ideas about reality; possibly the use of Fix #9 and some of the things she said in that chapter.

    Posted by jbort94 | June 6, 2013, 9:28 am
  2. I’ve often thought about this as well. I wondered what the general public’s reaction would be of a super-realistic video game. You get one character for the entire thing with only one life. When you get hurt, it takes real time to heal instead of just picking up a first aid kit and instantly getting healed. Or, if the injury is serious like say, getting shot in the leg, the character may not heal completely at all and develop a limp. Said character would parish from reasonable things like a single bullet to the heart or falling from a 4 story building. When that happens, the game would restart with a new character. I wonder if something like this would be too extensive to develop. Also, the realness of it might actually dull the game down so much that people would not want to play it. Are video games doomed to being forever fictional?

    Posted by sccrdude540 | June 7, 2013, 2:12 pm
  3. Both of you make good points. I have a few questions though. Jbort, you say that losing rank can be detrimental, but wouldn’t it be the driving force behind playing more? I would imagine that not playing wouldn’t boost your rank and if anything would hurt it as other plays continued to play and improve. I think that risk of losing is what drives to players to play more, its the opportunity for success that makes video games so successful. I think video game creators just need to find a way to score losing to make it as valuable as winning.

    Andrew, I think you are taking playing in real life a little literally. Games in the style that you talk about are probably most similar to The Sims, since in most action games, one shot kills are generally pretty annoying. I think a way you can apply moving up and down to fictitious games would be rating how you are playing. So for example, often times in games where you level up you may reach a certain level where you are so powerful you no longer need to play correctly. You can simply just power your way through a level. In a game where you can lose experience points as well as gain them, this should be detrimental. If you aren’t playing the game with good form, you should lose experience points since you are not doing it the right way. A possible argument against this is that if the player wants to play the game a certain way, they should be able to and if they can just power through a level they have earned that right. But that just my thoughts on a more realistic game.

    Posted by Ben Tarhan | June 7, 2013, 7:45 pm

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