The Daily Grind: Are you a fan of ‘automatic helping behaviors’ in MMORPGs?

We’ve been complaining about lockboxes a lot lately as an unwelcome psychological trick in gaming, so this morning, I wanted to talk about a welcome one. To do so, let me invoke the wisdom of blog The Psychology of Video Games. Author Jamie Madigan discusses “automatic helping behaviors” that studios can take advantage of to combat toxicity; he notes that researchers have found your attitude doesn’t always control your actions – you can often be tricked into an attitude based on your actions.

So if a game like Guild Wars 2 finds a way to incentivize you into resurrecting other players and helping them in combat, you begin to perceive yourself as the kind of person who helps – and you might just begin reflexively helping elsewhere, even when you don’t have to. That leads to situations, at least in GW2, where people will actually stop fighting to rush over to res a stranger, perpetuating that warm fuzzy feeling.

In a game like Overwatch, it’s even more automatic, as your character fires off compliments when characters nearby perform well. See and hear “yourself” do that enough and suddenly, that’s the kind of player you are.

Are you a fan of MMOs that employ this “trick” to encourage cooperation and community building? Where else have you seen it used to good effect?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Code of Conduct | Edit Your Profile | Commenting FAQ | Badge Reclamation | Badge Key

LEAVE A COMMENT

44 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Are you a fan of ‘automatic helping behaviors’ in MMORPGs?"

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
K38FishTacos
Reader
K38FishTacos

Yes.

I’m always shocked at how “rude” people are (taking nodes, chests, etc.) when you’re fighting a mob right on top of it in ESO after I have played GW2 for a while. Chest farmers are ruthless in ESO.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
kgptzac

There are quite a few games out there that rewards players points for reviving teammates created problems that people would revive even when doing so hampers progress in order to gain points for themselves. A lot of swords are double edged.

Reader
rafael12104

I’m and optimist. And I’m ha helper. So, I guess I didn’t realize that their had to be a concerted effort with these Automatic Helpers to foster a good attitude. I thought people helping, NPCs helping etc. are the way things are supposed to be anyway.

So, sure. I’m all for it. Is it working?

Reader
Michael18

That is a tough one.

On the one hand I’d say devs should use any opportunity to create a friendlier in-game environment; on the other hand, I despise the psychological manipulation involved in f2p schemes like lootboxes, etc. and is it so much different if the manipulation is employed for a good purpose? Does the end justify all means, here?

Thinking of concrete examples, I’d say GW2’s rezzing is a fun little mechanic that hurts no one, whereas what Blizz is doing with Hearthstone (no free chat) and Overwatch (automated jubilations) seems to go a bit far.

Reader
Rolan Storm

I like cooperative MMORPGs more, hence still in ESO. And I do help beyond cooperative mechanic, just today pulled a guy who was desperate to reach 160cp over all Alik’r dolmen shrines and explained him situation there. I like people being friendly, can’t help myself – though it does not, of course, always work.

But I’d rather help than hinder anyway.

styopa
Reader
styopa

“your character fires off compliments when characters nearby perform well”
LOL seriously? That’s hilarious.
http://progressquest.com/ – now with Chatbots!

“See and hear “yourself” do that enough and suddenly, that’s the kind of player you are.”
No, frankly if I saw that I would react quite badly. I’m not a superfan of social engineering trying to manipulate me, no matter how determinedly they want to make sure we’re all Goodthinkers.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
NeoWolf

In all honesty after the first few times I don’t really notice. Especially in games like that, that are action heavy you tend to focus so much on what your doing that what your character may or may not be saying is pretty much tuned out :)

Like Sally below states though, “can’t hurt”. right? :)

Reader
Sally Bowls

I go with “Can’t hurt; probably helps and Lord knows we need anything we can get.”

Reader
Zen Dadaist

Doesn’t really affect me either way. It’s fun to hear the auto-generated banter between a character you’re playing and one someone else is playing (á la Left 4 Dead, Killing Floor etc). I’ll go and pick up a team mate if I can regardless of whether I get some sort of extra special reward for it or not simply because it’s a lot more useful to the team to have that person up and acting than off at a graveyard rezzing somewhere for the next 5 minutes. Unless doing so is guaranteed to get me knocked on my arse as well, in which case it would be a bigger detriment to the team to have TWO folks out of the action!

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
Ashfyn Ninegold

Yes. Even WoW changed its tagging mechanics to encourage better behavior. Only faction tags on trash mobs remain. Doesn’t matter though. I’ve been helped by the other side as often as I’ve burned down mobs already tagged by them. People don’t seem to care anymore, which is all good.