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Commitment Games


I was thinking yet again about my time management when I thought about how some of my time is spent on games on quite a daily basis. An interesting and new (probably quite effective) model in two of the most recent Japanese games I've picked up rely on regular commitment, on the order of hours. What these two games have in common is a storage bank of resources that has a maximum value and recharges over time, which you need to play the important parts of the game. The result is that for max efficiency, you need to return to it before your bank reaches capacity. Once it fills up, you're kinda wasting potential regeneration points.

There are two ways to look at this. It's good that you can't do much at one go which means that you can't stay on the game for too long a stretch, but the real problem lies in that you have to keep returning after a set amount of time or you lose efficiency. It wouldn't be so bad if these games weren't also semi-competitive. (Usually a ranking system with reward payouts is implemented. Basically rewards commitment.) This means very constant commitment is needed to "get better" (more of leveling up actually) much like an MMORPG.

This model works well for non skill based games I guess, because skill based games already have a "degeneracy" built into them by their nature. You need constant practice to keep the level of skill and hence would need to return after a certain amount of time. Thus games achieve their objective by implementing some sort of commitment requirement which without, wouldn't let you get anywhere far.

The reason for playing games is quite obvious, but the reason behind playing a particular game over others for me would nowadays be the social aspect. Games help you connect (secondary role that is). By playing the same ones your friends do, it brings more in common. It also helps you get to know more people as well. A good conversation starter if you will. That means the more games you play, the more you'll have in common with more people. I know this sounds a bit weird, but I'm assuming everything else being equal. That unfortunately is also where the problem lies.

To extract benefit from a game (no matter which), one has to spend time on it. And the more time spent, the higher the benefit for each unit time. I don't believe you could find any game which you didn't need to do that. Games which don't require time to unlock things require skill, and games which don't require skill require grinding (loosely speaking). Either way, a game requires a time commitment. More games = more time needed. (And that will take away from the social benefits as obvious as it already sounds.)

I'm still at a loss of how much to allocate where, and trying to maximise my overall utility from all these games but it's rather difficult. To begin with, the benefits aren't linear. The differential of the benefits (marginal benefit) isn't linear as well. There's a certain length after which it kinda rolls off. Some games "decay" faster than others (you stand to lose more for some when not playing for the same while than others), and some games only "decay" faster during some times e.g. you stand to lose more if you don't play during major in-game events, and some of these in-game events take preparation (they tend to be geared to more senior players simply because that's makes the most sense for the game developers). The "decay" rate for skill based games changes with your skill level. Much like riding a bike, you can't go below a certain level, or the rate of decline slows after a certain time as well.

There's one aspect of games that is quite particular to me currently as well — Being in the fandom. It kind of keeps me up to date with the ones that I want to know about, and so that I may benefit from the goods and services that come about. Yet another reason to stick to them.

Gosh why is optimisation so hard?

03:15 20 Feb 2014
Thoughts

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