Extra Credits: The Skinner Box

This week, we talk about Operant Conditioning, and its unfortunate overuse in modern game design.

Recent Comments:

  • I've played mostly competitive multiplayer games for the last seven years or so, starting with the first Call of Duty. While the early games held my attention because of their excellent shooter mechanics, since CoD4 the focus has shifted almost entirely to the almighty reward schedules. Ranking, unlocks, killstreaks, and stats are all the CoD series -- and its many imitators -- have to offer now.

    I was 145.2 hours into Black Ops before I realized that I wasn't having fun anymore, and hadn't been for a good long while. I knew that I hated the subsystem metagaming and stat-whoring that had lately afflicted what had once been a beautiful game. But I somehow failed to realize that all that superfluous nonsense was the very thing compelled me to keep going for as long as I did.

    Watching the Skinner Box episode -- at 163.1 hours -- was the moment when Call of Duty was finally and irrevocably ruined for me. For that, I am eternally grateful to Extra Credits.

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