Games and Why We Play Them: "Fun" and "Winning"

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Games and Why We Play Them: "Fun" and "Winning"

Post by Alice on Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:55 am

Today we're going to talk about a common and controversial topic in Pokemon as well as many other games with a competitive element. When we play games what we are doing is engaging in strategic decision making. We have to make decisions along the way that will have different consequences and those consequences mean different things to different people. We call these "payoffs" in Game Theory. Payoffs are a model that abstracts feelings of satisfaction in the players and it is measured in "utils". (This is different from Utilitarianism which is a moral philosophy that has nothing to do with quantifying strategic decisions. So get the fuck out, Ayn Rand.)

The difficulty with payoffs is that they're chosen by the players based on their own personal preferences and biases. This means you cannot tell another player what his payoffs are or should be. You can find out what they are and then you can quantify those payoffs. If you do this for both (or all, as some cases may be) players, you are constructing a payoff matrix which is used in Game Theory to determine what player should take what action. Coming down from speaking so broadly; Pokemon is a game of strategic decision making between two players. It has a set of built-in rules that prevents certain activities by a third party (Game Freak) and those rules shape the framework of the game. Some players will have payoffs that include playing to win at all costs, finding builds online or copying the Nintendo tournament winner teams. Many of them spend hours minmaxing their Pokemon to have extreme type coverage, stat coverage, and counters to common plays (this is called metagaming). Some players that do this have high skill and some are not highly skilled. Other players choose to play the game for what they call "fun" which could be said to mean anything except winning at all costs. But it would be more accurate to say that they play for miscellaneous reasons such as enjoying a Monotype, using their favorites regardless of metagame status, using a random number generator to pick their team and just rolling with it, or trying to come up with interesting and unique builds that are never explored by the "win at all costs player". Some of these players are unskilled and some are skilled.

Regardless of your motivation for playing the game; regardless of your skill level, everyone plays the game for fun. You see, fun is just a catch-all word that means "This game plays to my biases" and does not speak for the overall quality of the game, skill of the player, or the "fun" that can be had by anyone else. By the same token, someone claiming that they play for "fun" does not exclude them from being skilled. In fact, playing a game for fun is almost required except in the case of games that one would play to evoke other emotions besides mirth like "fear" or "suspense"; words we generally do not associate with fun and yet people play Amnesia.

So everyone plays for fun. Everyone plays the way they want. And this means you need to stop telling everyone else the way they play is wrong. You need to stop trying to make them play to your rules and your metagame. You need to stop trying to force no-OHKO move clauses and Species clauses on people just because you think it's "broken". Regardless of your (and my) opinion on Evasion moves, sleep status, or anything else, they're in the game. If someone wants to play with them, they can. Telling people No items, Fox only, Final Destination is just a ticket to being hated. Similarly, no one should be assuming that someone who does not play strictly for winning at all costs even if it means dicing pokemon up into little tiers based on use and then having strict set builds that are the only usable ones; that is not acceptable behavior. Not for someone who understands Game Theory. Creating your own community meta is fine and inevitable; but keep that in their respective communities.
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Re: Games and Why We Play Them: "Fun" and "Winning"

Post by Captaincorgi on Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:01 am

Well said, Just play the game how you want, get along with each other and play vidya.

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Re: Games and Why We Play Them: "Fun" and "Winning"

Post by Sophia Aetheria on Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:58 am

Lovely article, Alice~ I share your sentiments on the matter whole heartedly.

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Re: Games and Why We Play Them: "Fun" and "Winning"

Post by RaikouTGC on Wed Feb 08, 2012 6:39 pm

Well said.

I had a match with someone a few months ago, I used an "In training non fully evolvedd team and spanked him only getting one of my Pokémon KOed, He proceeded to carry on in the middle of the gameshop because I didn't play by "Smogon Rules"

I laughed and said: The real game does not play by Smogon rules, if you want to play Smogon rules, go to their site and throw away your game.
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Re: Games and Why We Play Them: "Fun" and "Winning"

Post by ThatOneWeirdGuy on Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:06 pm

RaikouTGC wrote:Well said.

I had a match with someone a few months ago, I used an "In training non fully evolvedd team and spanked him only getting one of my Pokémon KOed, He proceeded to carry on in the middle of the gameshop because I didn't play by "Smogon Rules"

I laughed and said: The real game does not play by Smogon rules, if you want to play Smogon rules, go to their site and throw away your game.
somehow i fail to believe.......

Anyways i play pokemon because as a math nerd i love the way pokemon involves so much math and problem solving skills.

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Re: Games and Why We Play Them: "Fun" and "Winning"

Post by Alice on Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:46 am

I happen to love the mathematics involved as well. I'm a huge Game Theory freak.
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Re: Games and Why We Play Them: "Fun" and "Winning"

Post by RaikouTGC on Thu Mar 01, 2012 5:20 pm

ThatOneWeirdGuy wrote:
somehow i fail to believe.......

That's your prerogative, I have no need or desire to prove it to you.
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Re: Games and Why We Play Them: "Fun" and "Winning"

Post by Alice on Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:16 am

It's not that hard to believe. There are a number of things he could've done easily to take down a tourneyfag team without training his Pokemon. Like using evasion moves, sleeping each enemy, and/or setting up for a sweep like bellydrum agility baton. Watch the youtube series "Epic sweeps"
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Re: Games and Why We Play Them: "Fun" and "Winning"

Post by RaikouTGC on Fri Mar 02, 2012 3:10 pm

Actually, I'm more of a smasher type, I typically don't use moves unless they do damage or inflict Statuses.

I tend to have attack coverage for the typical counters to my Pokémon with an appropriate Type Boost Item for the coverage attacks.

Usually works for me, especially when facing players that rely on Smogon Tactics and Team Building concepts. Players who have a more lackadaisical team like me are a little unpredictable and more of a challenge
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Re: Games and Why We Play Them: "Fun" and "Winning"

Post by Alice on Fri Mar 02, 2012 6:17 pm

>Type boost item

Cringeworthy.
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