Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Semantics, part two

Why do we play games? This is the core of what I want to examine in this blog. To do that, I want to try and nail down some of the fundamental reasons, without creating a list slightly longer than the Yongle Dadian. In order to shorten the list, I am going to make some sweeping generalizations, and lump some things together that might at first glance appear to better off as separate categories. Without further ado, here is #1:

The Competition Motivation (TCM) – While this seems straight forward, I would like to expand the definition a bit. What I mean by TCM is not only the in-your-face football mentality, but also the popularity, reputation and respect one feels when playing a game. This requires an audience, even of just one person, in order to make the player think that they have earned their endorphins. If the respect is not sincere, if the reputation is in reality tarnished, or if the popularity is really notoriety does not matter as long as the player thinks their efforts paid off. As long as the brain can be tricked into releasing that dopamine fix, the player will continue to chase that high despite grueling practices, painful injuries, and the occasional loss.

The important concept behind The Competition Motivation is that it requires more than just one person to work. Either a teammate, rival or audience is needed, but which one is irrelevant. The narcissistic need to squash a rival human, impress a human audience, or gain the respect of a human teammate is what triggers that addictive pleasure.


Christine M said...

Love the reference to the Yongle Dadian. Great stuff!

Michael O'Shaugnessy said...

Perhaps one of the answers to what separates avid from casual is the pursuit of happiness versus the pursuit of pleasure.

It is clear to me that pleasure is an item in the set of happiness things.

Happiness also contains struggle, effort, and even disappointment.

brandon j said...

Pleasure as a tactic and Happiness as a strategy. Short term vs. long term rewards.

I like that concept/definition.