Wednesday, 2 January 2013

For the Loots

Ah, the Holidays. Warm fires, gatherings of friends and family; people trampling eachother to get their hands on shiny new TVs...

Yep, if there's a lesson that this time of year teaches (beyond all the boring ones about togetherness) it's that everyone loves a bargain. The only thing people love more then a bargain? Free stuff.
Everyone loves to get something for nothing, in fact it's one of the many reasons while getting presents at Christmas feels so good. It's also why some people can supposedly enjoy stealing so much that they become addicted to the rush they feel from stealing.

Of course, it's also partly the reason why Loot and Pillage were such popular pass-times during most of human history, particularly in the Dark Ages.

Damnit Rolf, loot first! Then Burn!Source
The mechanics of this are fairly easy to explain, at the most basic it's simply risk/reward. In any situation the option with the lowest risk but highest reward is the best and, while stealing will eventually skew to the other direction, we will always follow this imperative.

So why am I talking about this? Well, partly because I always enjoy the chance to show people fighting on Black Friday. Mostly, however, I wanted to talk about it because this mechanism is used by Games at almost every turn.

Hurry up man, I need my fix...Source

Seriously, this is one of the few truths that transcends almost all Game genres. There is always Loot.

Call of Duty has progressively bigger guns, Zelda has Rupees, Every RPG ever has gold and numbered weapons. Even Mario had hidden blocks that contained the invincibility star. Hell, our rabid pursuit of items that can be aquired for free in a videogame has even gone so far as to create a multi-million dollar illegal industry.

In fact Game Designers have been exploiting our weakness for Loot so long and so well that we barely even question it anymore; something playing through Dishonored really brought home to me.

Is it the mask? It's the mask isn't it?Source
So there I was, merrily escaping from a Victorian prison in Not-London-Town when something shiny caught my eye. Soon enough I was stealing coins from tables, buckets and chests by the boat load inbetween choking the life from unsuspecting guards.

Then I thought, Wait? What?

Corvo, the disgraced Lord Protector has maybe one shot at freedom and he's going to spend it upturning tableware on the off chance it contains something shiny? Shouldn't I be in more of a hurry? For a moment I had a deep sense of foolishness and shame...then I carried on looting things.

Hey, I said it was a problem...I didn't say I could fix it.

Until next time, let us say Skål! and drink together.

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