Pokemon is a "skinner box"

Discussion in '3DS - Games & Content' started by superspudz2000, Dec 29, 2013.

  1. superspudz2000
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    superspudz2000 GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    The Skinner box[1] is a device that was first developed by B. F. Skinner in his work on operant conditioning. A subject was placed in the box, and the mechanism gave small amounts of food each time the subject performed a particular action, such as depressing a lever or pecking a disk. Skinner was able to discover schedules of reinforcement.

    By rewarding more and more exaggerated behavior, complex actions could be trained through small successive rewards. For example, if a pigeon turned its head left, some food is dropped. The next time the pigeon does that he has to turn a little more left to get the food. Eventually you can train the pigeon to turn all the way around in a circle.

    http://www.cracked.com/article_18461_5-creepy-ways-video-games-are-trying-to-get-you-addicted.html

    for the longest time i tried to understand the pathological obsessive compulsiveness behind the pokemon games. i played the first gameboy Red/Green, and it was fun as hell, but when it comes to replaying it just to find every pokemon that ill never use after im finished with the game, i really couldent have cared less. once i beat Giovanni, i sold the cartridge to cash converters for another game.

    so it really comes as a surprise that the franchise still garners so much appeal, despite the fact that every subsequent game is an exact duplicate copy, only with slightly different character designs. (put rabbit ears on a dog and call it a Bunnadog Pokemon or some such nonsence)

    but i guess in the light of that article and considering the pathology of human behavioral science its pretty clear whats going on here. Humans have evolved a heightened sense of resource management. the alpha male that procures the most resources for the tribe gets to mate with the females.

    we are hard wired to hunt, collect and hoard. and thats exactly what the Pokemon games exploit. repetitive behavior reinforced by the thrill of random rewards. the same principle exploited by Vegas Casinos. did you ever wonder why more games now are implementing Achievements and RPG elements, because it strikes something in the subconsciousness mind.
     
  2. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    You do realize that Pokemon is not the first game ever in this genre, right? Pretty sure Shin Megami series came first. Not only that, collecting items and/or characters, rewards and punishments are important factors of all games - if there is nothing to gain or nothing to lose, there is no "game". It's not just a characteristic of "gambling", it's a characteristics of all games, or shall I say, "good games", meaning games that have a point to them.
     
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  3. ßleck

    ßleck Console Peasant

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    I don't know. Help.
    I've got news for you. The game doesn't end there.
     
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  4. Ammako

    Ammako GBAtemp Guru

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    EPIC THEORY BRO XD :yay:

    Warning: Spoilers inside!
     
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  5. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    On top of that, it's a huge stretch of Skinner's theory, and that's coming from someone who studies psychology and pedagogy as a part of his university studies. By the same extension, all people in the world should enjoy working since a job is repetitive by nature 9 out of 10 times and has the repeated incentive - the reward is naturally the paycheck. Naturally we know that this is not the case for a variety of reasons, but let's not go off-topic.

    In your analysis you're omitting the fact that repeated use of the same reward gradually decreases its effectiveness, which is something further researched by psychologists that came into the field after Skinner. Once the same reward is dispensed a great number of times, it stops being a coveted item and starts being the norm. Good games dish out varied rewards at varied time and condition intervals making them feel fresh and "rewarding". This might be the reason why many people accuse Pokemon of being repetitive (because at the end of the day, it is).

    Another problem with rewards is that they are not always motivating. The most effective rewarding scenario is the effort-reward one, where even the subject of conditioning feels a sensation of accomplishment and deems the reward to be rightful instead of just being a method of manipulation. Performance-independent rewards quickly lose their effectiveness, unlike performance-dependant ones which reinforce the rewarded behavioral pattern.
     
  6. Snailface

    Snailface My frothing demand for 3ds homebrew is increasing

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    Engine Room with Cyan, watching him learn.
    This instinctual hoarding behavior basically describes all rpgs and a good part of other genres. Pokemon just serves this compulsion better than most games.
    The whole hunter gatherer male aspect sounds good but why does this game have a higher than normal ratio of female players?
     
  7. superspudz2000
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    superspudz2000 GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    normally games that repeat the same cookie cutter design are highly criticized. people say they want a remake of their favorite series but they really dont. just look how star wars movies were criticized.

    the reason Legend of Zelda or Final Fantasy are successful is because they have the courage to step outside the box and try something new. everything gets stale after awhile. but it seems like the pokemon games have some mass appeal that spans over multiple iterations, why bother figuring out elaborate ways to transfer pokemon over different platforms, or hack in your favorite, if the time versus reward aspect is the cause.

    i think phrases like "gotta catch em all" and "be the very best", appeals to a primite evolutionary instinct
     
  8. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    When was the last time Zelda tried something new? It's always the exact same scheme - go to temples, do stuff, get Master Sword and beat Ganon and/or different antagonist. Final Fantasy on the other hand has varied settings but non-varied mechanics, to the point of featuring the same spells since the dawn of the series. Both of those games heavily base themselves in recognizable patterns.

    As for the Star Wars prequels, they're criticized not because they're bad Star Wars movies, they're criticized because they're considered bad movies in general.
     
  9. McHaggis

    McHaggis Fackin' Troller

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    I guess you just read about operant conditioning for the first time and wanted to post something that made you sound smart? ;)

    Most games (especially RPGs) involve some level of operant conditioning. But they don't really force it on you for the most part; you're not forced to go out and collect every single Pokemon to beat the full game. I wouldn't call Pokemon a "skinner box" just because each release is identical to the previous one (gameplay-wise). There are goals to most conditioning features, such as breeding for perfect IVs and natures―not something I usually take part in―so that you have the upper hand in battles with friends or anonymous challengers. Generally, I tend to skip a generation or two before buying the next one, but I do enjoy the games when I play them.

    The games that are particularly bad "skinner boxes" are the typical iOS games where you have to wait x hours for building y to be complete, just so you can start developing building z. Games that offer a reward, per se, but don't really offer any sort of sense of accomplishment. Yet, people play the games anyway because of their conditioning to do so.
     
  10. Foxi4

    Foxi4 On the hunt...

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    First and foremost, we have to differentiate between manipulation and invitation. There's a big difference between manipulating the player into doing something by dangling the proverbial carrot in front of his/her face and merely explaining the game mechanics and inviting the player to participate in the game.

    I won't say that there are no manipulation mechanisms in play when it comes to video games - there are, devices-a-plenty are used to sway the player into performing given actions and guide him/her through the game, but the important factor is whether these manipulations are done in a malignant fashion or not, and by that I mean manipulating the player into doing something he wouldn't instinctively, normally do.

    For example, the forementioned iOS games as well as many Pay to Win games dangle the carrot of success just a couple inches away from a player, but it's far enough as to force him/her into paying small sums of money to quickly attain victory rather than actually play the game - this is a negative mechanism that should be frowned upon.
     
  11. superspudz2000
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    superspudz2000 GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    its true that all games use a sense of accomplishment to entice the player to keep playing, but the problem arises when the developers become so ruthlessly efficient at delivering gratification that people used to get from real world activities. and the muggles will inherently become more and more dissociated the harder real world struggles become. (US is a trillion dollars in dept)

    i hear pokemon hackers use the argument that "they dont have the time to level grind to get the pokemon they want", so really its going beyond the sense of accomplishment aspect, and gets into the cold hard reality that real world tasks are becoming harder to achieve, and the need for escapism. fewer people have the money to start their own business, or the time to commit to mastery of a skill, so the never ending spiral of denial will continue and increase to levels of complexity until it implodes in on itself.

    just imagine if all pokemon competitions and online matches were banned somehow. would people still put the same level of competitive training to the point of calculating mathematical formulas just to gain an advantage? probably not. but the games would still be fun. so it goes to show that people have a need to gain advantage and a sense of superiority over others (evolutionary instinct), and its becoming harder to do so.
     
  12. pasc

    pasc GBATemps official GBA Freak

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    Took you long enough.

    In fact, it aint getting any more obvious than Pokemon...
     
  13. Flame

    Flame Me > You

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    Life is a big skinner box. Despite that, have you noticed how it remains so popular?

    thread/
     
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  14. DJ91990

    DJ91990 Dark-Type Trainer

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    Any game that has levels and character progression are skinner boxes.

    Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Borderlands, Guidlwars, World of Warcraft, etc.
    The skinner box is used HEVALLY in social games like Farmville and Battle Pirates. When you first play getting to level 10 from level 1 only takes a few hours. After getting level 10, getting to level 11 takes close to a day, getting from 10 to 15 could take a week, etc.

    The only Skinner box aspect in Pokemon are the leveling system. The main draw of the games are the competitive battling, raising and collection aspects of the game.
    I don't care about raising one level to level 100, I have fun battling, and raising many Pokemon. In fact the game's design works against those that would only raise one or two Pokemon.
     
  15. Black-Ice

    Black-Ice Founder of the Church of Renamon

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    Warning: Spoilers inside!
     
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  16. BORTZ

    BORTZ "Another stunning Van Gogh"

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    I AM THE 5% LOL

    I really stopped liking pokemon after gen 2... The gold and silver remakes were heaven.
     
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