@PoRiverJamBand: [@CaseyExplosion's article on culture anger] highlights what happens when people realise they're no longer being treated as customers, users, or just players of a game, but as agents in a system created from a specific economic mindset.
Alice Clearwater
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This is a really rad article that you should read because it highlights what happens when people realise they're no longer being treated as customers, users, or just players of a game, but as agents in a system created from a specific economic mindset.

They get angry.

Human economics is the single most fraught form of the field there is. Built in to the tools to promote positive experiences are the same tools necessary to extract money, time, and energy from players in a way those players wouldn't otherwise offer.

Worse, people are rarely aware that's what's happening. It's not that they're dumb, it's not that they're oblivious, it's that people just don't think that way. That's why it's so effective.

I think the exceptionally gross part of this, and I can only assume developers know this effect is VERY REAL, is that it's internally reinforcing. Agents in the system are part of the system who will aggressively reinforce the stability of the system.

Like the article notes, there are negative reviews from players with hundreds of hours spent in a game. You might then ask a simple question.

Who most angrily rebukes those negative reviews?

It's not the players with ten hours.

One of the more troubling facets of human econ is that people will often do whatever they can to explain their own behaviour as logical.

This is ultimately why it's so effective.

You get someone to do something and by the time they notice, they'll have a good reason for it.

If one player sees another who's angry for a valid reason, the first player will usually decide the angry player is stupid or possessed of an ulterior motive.

The alternative is that their massive expenditure on the game is a product of not their own logic, but manipulation.

This veers dangerously into Glenn Beck-style "Cass Sunstein is the Devil for wanting kids to eat fruit" stuff, to be sure, but it's worth remembering these are very real, very material elements of human econ that have to be avoided.

The game industry, meanwhile, embraces them.

As a bonus endcap to this thread, this is ultimately why non-subscription GAAS is such an attractive model.

It is by far the most effective possible vehicle for this kind of manipulation.

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