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Mind factors: Is one gender more accepting?

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A gross generalization has it that women are more open than men to issues relating to the mind: Thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, etc; whereas men can better relate to the visceral, such as force, danger, proximal conflict, tactics, etc. First off, do you believe this? (A counter argument is that this is an extroverted versus introverted thing; or a strictly how we're socialized.)
Secondly (and more to the point): When you play a character that's supposed to be you (not some named story person), there's a barrier between you and your character. You might look at it as if your in-game avatar is your body and YOU are the brain. Because of this, a game can't say "you feel" this or that. In fact, many of us get POed when our character gets stunned, hypnotized or otherwise mentally hijacked. Given all of this, what (if anything) would get you to buy into the concept that you have a game "self" that has a gameplay purpose? That is, you would have mental / mind factors that affected how you played, what you could do, etc. Some Questions: 1) Would you need a good fictional reason? (Like "you're a spirit possessing a body" or "in the future, neural implants allow us to strategically control our minds.") 2) When it comes to experiencing something YOU don't feel, would it help acceptance and roleplaying if your character was modded? (Example: Long ago you were captured by the evil Duke of Titan and brutally conditioned. Now, whenever he's in the room, you lose all confidence, aka ALL skills drop to 10% unless it's something he suggests you do.) 3) Should your character ever do anything YOU wouldn't do, via cutscene or after-report. (Example 1: You fly into a rage whenever you see your mortal enemy. When they appear on the screen, you have to play a minigame to get control. If you lose, no matter where you are, your character screams, rushes at the enemy, and begins pummeling them.) (Example 2: You're pursuing a mission involving nanite-based mental hijacking. You sit and drink with a trusted senator you're interviewing and he begins talking. Fade out. Screams. Fade In. You're crouched in a dark room, dressed in black, holding a sniper rifle. You look through the sights. You see the President, dead, a smoking hole in his chest. People are shouting and pointing up at you.)
Different Approaches You could take a lot of approaches, but I'm thinking of a stat-based approach (hidden or abstract), that would have these factors: Moxy - Modifies your abilities when entering dangerous areas (up or down depending on if you're brave or chicken), controls who you have the guts to approach, what quests you can take on, and whether or not you can violate social norms (like streaking at the big game[grin]) Empathy - Modifies your ability to calm potential enemies, make new allies, and get people to cooperate with you on things that don't cost them anything. Connivery - Modifies your ability to get people to put themselves into danger for you, take the fall without knowing it in advance, buy things from you, sleep with you, etc. Patience - Modifies the number of times you can try something after failing, how much time you can commit to studying, and how many conversation options you get when dealing with stupid / annoying people And the list would go on... You'd pick traits at character design time, btw, maybe between 4 and 8 depending on how much "personality" you had.
Gameplay Implementation For this to work, it would have to be interesting to interact with a wide range of people who provide challenges (bullies, false-friends, mooches) and rewards. The encounters would, depending on how you respond to them, modify your "self" stats. The "self" stats would, in turn, modify other encounter possibilities and challenges elsewhere in the world. A Gameplay Example You're a young member of a starship's crew, but really a spy for a rival ship that wants their trade routes. If you can somehow cozy up to the captain or navigator, you may be able to somehow steal the plans. The only problem is that the captain's such an idiotic boor that he tries your Patience whenever you try to talk to him, and the Navigator is so absolutely gorgeous that you haven't got the Moxy to talk to her about much besides the weather. So your challenge is to build yourself up by interacting with the rest of the crew, people at the various ports, and win other social and non-social challenges elsewhere aboard ship and in the game universe.
The idea has a big potential suckiness quotient because normally YOU are supposed to be in control of yourself. So is there any way to make this acceptable, particularly among the stereotypically "in control" male gender? [lol]

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well as a male gamer...honestly I can relate far better with a 3rd person representation of my in game character...erm its not me, isn't adressed as me...for all practical perposes I'm just an invisable voyer to the game and I happen to be in control of the physical actions of the main character.

the whole in "your face" approch of the player being the main character, seeing through thier eyes, being addressed in first person etc...just comes across as cheesy, unimaginative, even giveing a sense that the designers were insecure in thier characterisation skills. Course games like Duke 3D are an exception in that it has a light tone and does not take itself so uber seriously

I guess the best way to put it is that I know who I am, what I'm capable of, and confortable in my own skin. As such I can easily empathise with others well as I know where I fit into the resolution...the "in your face" approch hardly ever works for me in that it tries to contradict my self knowledge and self awareness..."I know I can't run at 20mph, stop trying to make me think I can", etc...

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I perfer a more hands on first person approach, not so much because i'm not comfortable with who i am, but rather that i want to express who i am into the game itself. So yeah, if i'm blowing holes in zombies and suddenly i'm magically "paralized" and unable to do anything about it, it annoys me. I think if your going to effect the player somehow, it should be to the person actually playing, not to the players avatar.

A good example of this would be a UFO squad game that sadly is slated never to be made. In the game when the aliens mind control the player, it messes with his vision and switches the wireframes so that some of his squadmates look like aliens, and some aliens look like squadmates, disorienting the real player into potentially killing friendlies because he has a hard time telling which is which. So, if you wanted to concuss or paralyze a player, you could scramble his Key-mapping so up is sideways, or left is down, thus confusing and distorienting the player, but potentially giving him something that he can overcome.

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Gameplay example
You're a young member of a starship's crew, but really a spy for a rival ship that wants their trade routes. If you can somehow cozy up to the captain or navigator, you may be able to somehow steal the plans. The only problem is that the captain's such an idiotic boor that he tries your Patience whenever you try to talk to him, and the Navigator is so absolutely gorgeous that you haven't got the Moxy to talk to her about much besides the weather. So your challenge is to build yourself up by interacting with the rest of the crew, people at the various ports, and win other social and non-social challenges elsewhere aboard ship and in the game universe.


I like the idea of different mental stats (rather than physical). This sounds like it would be a kind of adventure game.

You don't have the courage to talk to the tall blonde bombshell Navigator, so when she is at the disco you decide to take a chance. You sink several pints "for dutch courage" ie. to give you the feeling you can talk to her.
You ask her if she wants to dance, then puke all over the First Mate.

OOps! Better try a different approach.

So might need to take a different approach.


How would you raise your patience? Would you have to take jobs like sweeping the deck, or watching paint dry ;). Maybe studying would help your concentration (I've just played a game where you have to read books or go to sleep to help restore your sanity meter), or emeditation would help you to remain calm?

This sounds slightly like Wonder Project J for the SNES where you have to train a pinochio type Robot so that you can complete certain tasks (although I think that these are mainly performing physical tasks, not mental or social interactions).

P.s. I think that having a well defined goal such as cozy up to the Captain and get the plans is important, and then leaving it up to the player to get there.

Maybe the illusion of having total control over the character is actually a flaw? Since when a cut-scene happens they act differently and you don't have any control over them. So if you are just guiding them, then maybe this is more realistic and allows designers more freedom in controlling the story direction?

[Edited by - Ketchaval on May 28, 2005 8:06:33 AM]

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Original post by Gyrthok
So, if you wanted to concuss or paralyze a player, you could scramble his Key-mapping so up is sideways, or left is down, thus confusing and distorienting the player, but potentially giving him something that he can overcome.

Beyond Good & Evil used that to very good effect in one of the 'important' fights -- it had the enemy 'play' with your mind and the controls would become reversed, 'left' would be 'right', 'up' would be 'down' etc.

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A gross generalization has it that women are more open than men to issues relating to the mind: Thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, etc; whereas men can better relate to the visceral, such as force, danger, proximal conflict, tactics, etc.
I think it's only, and at most, half of the genetics argument. The thing about humans is that we can get around a lot of our presets with just a little bit of discipline and determination. In fact, there are a lot of stories, and I mean a lot given the scope of most of human literary tradition, that deal with a Man learning to come to terms with his feelings.

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1) Would you need a good fictional reason? (Like "you're a spirit possessing a body" or "in the future, neural implants allow us to strategically control our minds.")
It helps, but no, its not "needed." But in terms of what literary development thats going to be taking place, you can take alternate paths based on how you treat something. Heres a bad example but take Lightsabers in starwars. George Lucas original took them from the novel Ringworld, where they were molecule sharp and not very visible save the red ball at the tip. Lucas knew that nobody would quite get it, so he made them glow, to suggest its a electromagnetic field or something. He abstracted away and by Episode 1, he's treating it as a really hot laser, good for melting doors. Interesting plot device, but what if he had kept the original thinking? He could of had a lightsaber break in half somewhere...

To get back to the original question, imagine the developmental advantages of saying that the player has some hardcore brain implants and is being controlled. You could take the plot in a direction of tracking down whose controlling the character, or maybe running into others that also have these implants and they become playable characters.

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2) When it comes to experiencing something YOU don't feel, would it help acceptance and roleplaying if your character was modded?
These are interesting when they're beneficial and annoying when degrading. FFX had those battles where if you used the special option "Talk" you'd get some dialogue and a stat bonus, according to what was going on. I think its one of those touch and feel, trial and error situations where you can't mess with the player *too* much, otherwise you just negate all of that annoying level-building he was doing for the last three days.
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3) Should your character ever do anything YOU wouldn't do, via cutscene or after-report.
I guess here in lies the problem of assuming the playable character is you, against the whole Guardian Angel notion of gaming. Of course, with a good fictional reason from question 1, you have a reason for your playable character to behave against your wishes. But then, breaking the YOU notion and naming your characters before they reach the player is probably more effective.

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I think enforcing personality traits on a player's character is going to be difficult to render palatable -- not necessarily because of player-character identification, but because the limitations you impose on the character in-game may not match the concept of the character that the player has developed in their own head.

I'd be sure to give the player plenty of "personality points," so they can create the sort of character they're planning to play. After that, you have a choice -- either try to make the limitations of that character "blend in" -- i.e., if the character doesn't have the Moxy to "Hit on Navigator," don't put a pick-up line in their dialog tree. Alternately, you could show the unavailable choices and make it clear why the character can't use them -- i.e., if they select a pick-up line, they get a system message that says "Nah, you don't have the Moxy."

Both systems could be aggravating, but they're aggravating in different ways. I guess it depends on whether you want "personality development" to be a strong gameplay element, or whether it's just something that shapes the player's gaming experience in relatively subtle ways. Personally, I'd prefer the latter -- I think "personality development as gameplay element" would hinder my immersion in the game -- but I think that's likely to vary from player to player.

Edit: I do really like the "character interaction as gameplay element," though -- especially when crossed with the SF elements. I have to wonder, though, how that's going to work for your demographic. The people who would play your game for the cool character-based stuff (gross generalization: "people" = women) may be turned off by the spaceships, and the people who would play your game for the cool space stuff (gross generalization: "people" = guys) may be bored by the character-based gameplay.

Of course, there are likely to be people of various genders who are going to think it's really cool that you have both... but I'm afraid that may be a very small niche.

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1) If I the view was third person in "god mode" (not "always behind character") it would be more likely that I accepted those and started roleplaying. If the view was first person, I would need a lot of sound input to believe the "camera" is me.
2) If there's a visual indication, certainly. Thinking of diablo 2 I would feel intimidated when suddenly my character had an enemy aura that lowered my stats...

Then I noticed it and re-read the post: I can't say if its true for women, but I can say that the one about men is true at least for me, I was replying to your questions and I realized that my responses were about tactical, conflict proximity, etc reactions (as you can see above)

Now real answer:
1) Not really, I think I would need good input of those feelings the game wants me to feel... it doesn't really matter if the view is third or first person, and what the setup of the story is. That is if you want me to _feel_ something, I remember feeling the character's sadness, happiness, etc from many SNES rpgs, it was the text, the music, the sprite animation.
When I saw the trailer for Killzone 2 (first person view) I really felt a lot of things, not the wow! at the graphics, the video really sucked me into the eyes of the 'character' you are supposed to be playing, I felt really scared that 'I' was trying to survive and try to get my team not killed, that I had to keep my eyes open, sadness when my teammates got shot, etc. But of course that required heavy audio and video input and is more like visceral.
However, the point is that when you are playing fast paced games you don't have much time to think on feeling. If I felt all of that is because it was a video, the snes games used 'cutscenes'. While watching a movie you can certainly get sucked into it and share the characters fellings because you pay attention to the details.

2) I'd take that as 'danger' that required some 'tactical thinking' as what to do... considering I can move, that I can attack him (the game won't punish me), and that the duke will attack me. If he won't, then I would treat it as a cutscene (or soon-to-happen cutscene via-something-I-must-trigger). To take a extreme, if there's no fight and I can enter and leave the room as I please then it would be dumb.

3) Should your character ever do anything YOU wouldn't do, via cutscene or after-report.
(Example 1: You fly into a rage whenever you see your mortal enemy. When they appear on the screen, you have to play a minigame to get control. If you lose, no matter where you are, your character screams, rushes at the enemy, and begins pummeling them.)
(Example 2: You're pursuing a mission involving nanite-based mental hijacking. You sit and drink with a trusted senator you're interviewing and he begins talking.
Fade out.
Screams.
Fade In.
You're crouched in a dark room, dressed in black, holding a sniper rifle. You look through the sights. You see the President, dead, a smoking hole in his chest. People are shouting and pointing up at you.)

Both examples have a visceral part, you should try putting something that is exclusively related to the mind so you can check if the generalization is true or not ^^
I can say that I would relate to the character since it would be a 'movie' (how much depends on how good the movie is and how does it relate to story so far). But I don't know if I would relate more on the visceral side than to the mind:
Force -> Hate, feeling to pummel the enemy. On the other one we have the 'Oh shit', danger, conflict, lets get out of here, etc
While on the mind side we have an emphasis on the possible thoughts the character has, etc, as a movie you have all the time in the world to slow the time to make you think on the character thoughts, do closeups, etc.

As for the stats you are proposing, yeah I think it would work as long as the player knows of their existence (he may or might not know the exact values). That would help forcing them to make a mental image of the character, just don't use these stats to tell what character is stronger or not and it should be fine (not based on level, and the max amount of points is the same for all players), otherwise they will be just another stat.

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