Hmmm…Ruggill and McAllister are onto something – the top five anticipated games, according to the gaming press…all retreads…
Don’t get me wrong – they look spectacular, ranging from pulp-style space opera (Mass Effect 3) to sword and sorcery (DOTA 2, Diablo 3) and hard-boiled detectives (Max Payne 3, Prototype 2) with a blend of dystopic desire. I immediately felt my cerebellum start salivating (not a pretty image, I know), and thought about how I could spend my summer break just playing a little every day.
What lately helps step away from the edge is what R & M identify in one of their chapters – the boredom of the work associated with these games. Again and again, I know, I’ll have to kill hundreds of something created and maneuvered by an incredibly intelligent AI, and I’ll stare endlessly at my computer monitor, repeating carefully learned techniques and killing increasingly more challenging monsters until I finally get to fight the big boss, the center of all evil.
That repetition keeps me away from Best Buy or Game Stop, thank cthulthu, but it drives me to figure out why the hell these things work like this, and increasingly makes me anxious about what we’re doing with (to?) our brains, bringing me to this article on TechCrunch (via Chomsky).
It discusses the importance among companies of creating ‘strong habits’ among users, something games have down to a science, and then describes the ‘first-to-mind’ scenario that companies want to create. He then uses the term ‘desire engine’ to talk about the machine (how industrial paradigm of him) that moves us from external triggers to internal triggers. As the writer notes, B.F. Skinner suddenly becomes the basic theorist of the web – screw McLuhan!
A bit more complicated than this, methinks, but then I ain’t as smart as Mr. Eyal,