Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
07-30-2013, 08:28 PM (This post was last modified: 07-31-2013 11:45 PM by Chocolate Pi.)
Post: #1
Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
Read this:
http://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/05/19/f...d-loyalty/

The message is impossible to digest, but swallow it anyway. All rational thinking is rationalization. Read that again. What you call logic is a system of rules connected by well-placed fallacies that serves as a vehicle of validation.

Everything you have ever thought is a means of validating what you emotionally want to be true.

This will remain true for the rest of your life.

**********

"But wait," you say, "there have been countless times in my life where I've reached a logical conclusion I didn't want to find! Are you saying it's impossible to have a sudden revelation that challenges your existing way of thinking? Because I definitely--" Hold up chief. (Also fyi you're doing it again.)

Sudden revelations are themselves a defense mechanism, a hedge against change. Two mental constructs are on a collision course (one of them usually identity) and one gets thrown under the bus preemptively to preserve the other. (which is always identity) The goal is stasis above all else.

This is why the experience of having some sort of revelation is just that: an experience. No one has a sudden shift in perspective and continues on if nothing ever happened. (Which is what a perfectly rational computing machine would do.) No, the identity won't allow it. The revelator must go through a three-act play, a scripted ritual that defuses any threat to the identity.

This will remain true for the rest of your life.

**********

"So you are saying if I like provolone more than cheddar, it's just rationalization--me declaring an imaginary preference to handle some obscure emotional stimulus? It's not possible that someone might, I dunno, just like provolone?"

What organ do you think preferences come from? The liver?

**********

We spend most of our lives seeking out psychological defenses, so we are inclined to hunker down whenever we find a barricade that seems unassailable. Every second-grader is awe-struck upon first encountering Fort "That's Just Your Opinion" and learns a critical lesson: there exist defenses that are socially impossible to breach. There are sacturaries where the world cannot touch your identity, often invoked by magical keywords.

We can call these "bunkers."

The most sure-fire way to construct a bunker is out of any idea that is both:
-Abstract
-Universally Accepted As Valuable

Our existing example: No one can assualt the value of opinions. Nor can we discuss them in any meaningful way--they are an abstraction. Show me an opinion--I mean literally show me what it looks like, what it feels like, what it is. It's a pattern of stimuli in the brain? Ok; how is it distinct from all the other impulses zipping around? The classification is meaningless. It's a bunker.

The strongest bunkers are untargetable by virtue of distraction. They come ready-made with an alternative debate that implicitly validates the idea at hand.

Take authenticity. You call someone out on ordering bad chinese food, and he defends it as "authentic." So now the debate has shifted to whether or not Wong's Quik-Chow is authentic or not--and it is implicitly accepted and reinfornced that authenticity is an unquestionable virtue, and exists as a semi-tangible idea at all. Is Wong's kung pow chicken similar to food found in China? Where? By what criteria? Relative to what? And what does any of this have to do with anything? It's a web of meaningless abstraction, and even pointing this out gains you no ground--escaping the orbit from one rationalization to return to another.

When something that isn't real has a universally accepted value, you are in the Matrix.

**********

A cognitive kill switch is a trigger that turns the topic from content to identity. In other words, it activates the defenses, and reduces the conversation to whatever it is we want to be true.

Invoking the name of a bunker is a cogitive kill switch to anyone who has ever used it.

Ready for the red pill? The following words are cognitive kill switches in game design:

-Skill
-Balance
-Depth
-Competitive
-Comebacks
-Counters
-Gameplay
-Fun

Every one of these words is used, in the context of armchair game design, as a meaningless but unassailable abstraction. They aren't real concepts. They don't exist.

Care to argue? Sorry, I'm off the clock. Coming to terms with each of these is a realization you have to make on your own--it's the only way your identity will stomach it, after all. It's a douche move on my part to present a thesis and refuse to defend it, but no one can be told what the Matrix is.

And yes, this will remain true for the rest of your life.
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08-01-2013, 04:41 AM (This post was last modified: 08-01-2013 04:41 AM by amosmyn.)
Post: #2
RE: Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
You hit the nail on the mark. :)
Although I'm not familiar by what you mean when you say "Comebacks"? Do you mean just literally challenges to a notion?
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08-01-2013, 07:53 AM
Post: #3
RE: Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
(08-01-2013 04:41 AM)amosmyn Wrote:  Although I'm not familiar by what you mean when you say "Comebacks"? Do you mean just literally challenges to a notion?

This is specifically referring to the perception of how possible comebacks are. In competitive games, this abstract concept is considered universally valuable and proof of a good game.

Example: Get a rapid LoL fan and a rapid DotA2 fan in the same room and ask them which game has "more potential for comebacks." Then run, lock the door on your way out, and call in an airstrike.
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08-01-2013, 08:39 AM
Post: #4
RE: Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
(08-01-2013 07:53 AM)Chocolate Pi Wrote:  
(08-01-2013 04:41 AM)amosmyn Wrote:  Although I'm not familiar by what you mean when you say "Comebacks"? Do you mean just literally challenges to a notion?

This is specifically referring to the perception of how possible comebacks are. In competitive games, this abstract concept is considered universally valuable and proof of a good game.

Example: Get a rapid LoL fan and a rapid DotA2 fan in the same room and ask them which game has "more potential for comebacks." Then run, lock the door on your way out, and call in an airstrike.

Sooo... if your on a losing streak or just not doing very well in a game, how easy would it be to "come back" to winning/doing well?

Also, what do you mean by counters?
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08-01-2013, 08:54 AM
Post: #5
RE: Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
(08-01-2013 08:39 AM)avidGamer Wrote:  Also, what do you mean by counters?

The abstract idea of content polarization enriching a game.

Example: Take top lane LoL. Let's say that Yorick beats Jayce, Jayce beats Trundle, and Trundle beats Yorick. (Those should be right, but that's beside the point.) I'd bet sound money our rapid LoL fan is 100% convinced that this makes LoL a better game, and I'd bet three times as much that he believes he is a better LoL player thanks to appreciating this sophistication.
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08-05-2013, 09:57 AM
Post: #6
RE: Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
Study sources?
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08-22-2013, 09:01 AM (This post was last modified: 08-22-2013 09:04 AM by Stiqqery.)
Post: #7
RE: Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
It's an interesting read, but your core point seems to be hinged on a fair number of assumptions.

Also, even if it is possibly true, ending a set of ideas with "I can't make an argument for the point I just made, you just have to realize it" is kind of...

no.

That literally doesn't pass for an argument in any remotely formal scientific or educational environment, and if you are presuming to provide insight, you shouldn't settle for it either. There's admitting that you don't know of any way to explain something and you have never encountered anyone or anything that could do it, and then there's claiming, on its face, that it's impossible, without really framing why it's impossible.

I could be misunderstanding, but it seems to me that you're trying to argue that, if something is abstract, it does not exist because it cannot be concretely defined. I would counter-argue that in fields such as psychology and physics, some of our greatest achievements have been oriented around attempting to catalogue and define processes and forces we cannot directly observe. I don't think an abstraction is necessarily "not real."

Anyway I'm going to second the call for sources. I think you really could be onto something, but it feels... unfinished.
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08-22-2013, 12:43 PM
Post: #8
RE: Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
I was under the impression that this is more of a philosophical study of the human psyche then an essay or formal study?
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08-22-2013, 01:08 PM
Post: #9
RE: Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
It's still a pretty big assertion. Burden of proof and all that.
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08-27-2013, 01:05 PM (This post was last modified: 08-27-2013 02:23 PM by AProcrastinatingWriter.)
Post: #10
RE: Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
Vibin' with Stiggery here. Though it's less "lemme see your sources" and more "I'm pretty in disagreement with the premise at hand", see?

For one thing more concrete, as a matter of fact I have come to conclusions about myself and then continued on as if nothing happened. E.g.: I am not a good person deep down in my heart. Admittedly, in the technical sense, I've told people I've come to the conclusion above, and I wouldn't have done that if I hadn't come to that conclusion, but 1) it was hardly the "three-act play" spoken of in the initial post and 2) I sincerely doubt anybody involved in this is being quite as literal as the statement would imply.

Of course, that's hardly a scientific argument, simply a personal anecdote, so disbeleive if you want to. I ain't gonna argue the rest because more than anecdotes are matters of carefully-wrought personal philosophies.

[Image: g4osirL.jpg]
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08-27-2013, 07:58 PM
Post: #11
RE: Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
(08-22-2013 09:01 AM)Stiqqery Wrote:  Also, even if it is possibly true, ending a set of ideas with "I can't make an argument for the point I just made, you just have to realize it" is kind of...

no.

this is possibly the best quote on this forum

"Have some wine," the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.
Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea.
"I don't see any wine," she remarked.

(06-25-2013 09:31 AM)Chirality Wrote:  And then everyone cut the simplest explanations in tiny pieces then set them on fire then threw them in a lake and poisoned the lake.
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08-27-2013, 10:18 PM (This post was last modified: 08-27-2013 10:18 PM by A Killer Cuppa Tea.)
Post: #12
RE: Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
wow ruru i just saw your sig

awesome sig

(Why? Cos i love Alice In Wonderland, i love Tea, i love Wine, and i love Mafia, and that sig manages to reference all 4. i also like rabbits. especially drunk, slightly-insane rabbits.)
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08-28-2013, 08:22 PM
Post: #13
RE: Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
I think you misinterpreted the conclusion. The idea of the whole thing is learning to identify certain triggers; words that have had the meaning sucked out of them so they can be repackaged as an abstract avatar for some agenda. I explained how to spot these cases, and offered a list of several examples. I didn't walk the audience through each one, because the message is simply to think--not what to think.

But an example never hurt, so here's one in two acts:

**********

The other day, I asked some friends if dubstep should be legally considered a form of music. A lot of people said yes. A lot of people said no. A lot of people just sort of stared at me.

I followed up by asking if ponytails should be considered--again, legally--a hairstyle. At this point most people figured out the scam and started protesting.

All dichotomies begin with first accepting the dichotomy's authority. (I have said more than once that in mafia, false dichotomies are scum's best friend.) For a lot of choices out there, any choice is secondary to accepting that the choice itself is legitimate.

In other words, anyone asking you to take a side is selling you something, and it's not actually gay marriage.

**********

Which is the more competitive game: League of Legends or DotA 2?

Anyone who gives any answer besides "What the frack does that even mean?" would probably sign a petition about dubstep's legal standing.

But really? "More competitive?" What does that mean?

No, seriously, what does it mean?

That... more players play? Yes, because Facebook games and Minesweeper are the epitome of competition. Try again.

More tournaments? More sponsored teams? More prize money? Stop. I'm sure someone who likes the opposite game would love to debate you on all three points, but I'm not buying your false dichotomy. You weren't thinking of any of those things when you took your initial position. It's all meaningless rationalization to back up a purely emotional stance. If you stripped these away, your position would still stand.

So we're down to core, fundamental aspects of each game that make them more or less "competitive?" Maybe it has less luck, or "more skill" (whatever the hell that means), or "rewards a competitive mindset." Yawn. Keep trying.

Maybe your preferred game is "built more for competition"; just watch out for vertigo if your logic is getting that circular.

I'd threaten to strap you in place until you gave me a good answer, but then I'd be charged with unlawful imprisonment and manslaughter after you starve to death. There's no escaping the truth:

It means nothing.

Absolutely nothing. In this context the word "competitive" has had the meaning sucked out. It's an avatar, an ideal, an authority to appeal to. The statement:

"I think game X is more competitive than game Y."

...translates directly to any of the following:

"I want to believe that game X is more valid than game Y."
"I want to believe that winning at game X matters more than game Y."
"I want to believe that understanding and appreciating game X means more than game Y."

...none of which we can say aloud because the meaninglessness and raw subjectivity is transparent.

The word "competitive" as used here is empty. It's abstract. It's a bunker.

And anyone throwing it around is trying to sell you something.

**********

The other examples continue to remain exercises left to the reader.
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08-29-2013, 08:12 AM (This post was last modified: 08-29-2013 08:14 AM by Stiqqery.)
Post: #14
RE: Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
That's a surprisingly good and digestible followup post. I just have a few points I'd like to make at this stage.


---
bitching about language begins here

The problem with the sorts of abstract ideas that have the potential to be kill switches is that they're aggregates. A word like "competitive" is based on multiple parts:

one, a core idea, competition: in which two or more parties attempt to outperform eachother according to some arbitrary metric.

two, a series of additional abstract concepts related to "competition" (ex. "fairness", "high skill ceiling", "intense") each of which is basically a mess unto itself

three, the individual experience the utterer has with the word "competitive", as well as with competitions, and in turn their experiences with all of the other abstract concepts that we have somewhat arbitrarily considered to be related to "competition"

That does very little to make them usable outside of linguistic simplicity, but that is, unfortunately, the nature of language.

bitching about language ends here
---

Anyway I think your first post was too ambitious and got tangled up in authoritativeness and philosophical contemplation that did very little to actually develop your point while really dragging out the length overall, but on the whole I think I understand what you mean by "cognitive kill switch", and in that sense I suppose you have a point.

So if I understand it correctly, what you're saying is:

1. A cognitive kill switch is where an abstract concept is used to shut down an argument because those abstract concepts can (and often do) mean different things to different people, making progress impossible and often either ending the argument or dissolving it into circular logic and personal attacks.

2. Don't throw around words like "balanced" or "competitive". If you must use these words to describe some goal or initiative, define more-or-less exactly what you mean by that, and once you have determined what it is specifically you want, only then can you design with the intent to meet that goal.

I think you have a solid idea of what you're talking about, but your writing still very much needs work. Best of luck.
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08-29-2013, 06:35 PM
Post: #15
RE: Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
I think you misinterpreted the conclusion. The idea of the whole thing is learning to identify certain triggers; words that have had the meaning sucked out of them so they can be repackaged as an abstract avatar for some agenda. I explained how to spot these cases, and offered a list of several examples. I didn't walk the audience through each one, because the message is simply to think--not what to think.

But an example never hurt, so here's one in two acts:

**********

The other day, I asked some friends if dubstep should be legally considered a form of music. A lot of people said yes. A lot of people said no. A lot of people just sort of stared at me.

I followed up by asking if ponytails should be considered--again, legally--a hairstyle. At this point most people figured out the scam and started protesting.

All dichotomies begin with first accepting the dichotomy's authority. (I have said more than once that in mafia, false dichotomies are scum's best friend.) For a lot of choices out there, any choice is secondary to accepting that the choice itself is legitimate.

In other words, anyone asking you to take a side is selling you something, and it's not actually gay marriage.

**********

Which is the more competitive game: League of Legends or DotA 2?

Anyone who gives any answer besides "What the frack does that even mean?" would probably sign a petition about dubstep's legal standing.

But really? "More competitive?" What does that mean?

No, seriously, what does it mean?

That... more players play? Yes, because Facebook games and Minesweeper are the epitome of competition. Try again.

More tournaments? More sponsored teams? More prize money? Stop. I'm sure someone who likes the opposite game would love to debate you on all three points, but I'm not buying your false dichotomy. You weren't thinking of any of those things when you took your initial position. It's all meaningless rationalization to back up a purely emotional stance. If you stripped these away, your position would still stand.

So we're down to core, fundamental aspects of each game that make them more or less "competitive?" Maybe it has less luck, or "more skill" (whatever the hell that means), or "rewards a competitive mindset." Yawn. Keep trying.

Maybe your preferred game is "built more for competition"; just watch out for vertigo if your logic is getting that circular.

I'd threaten to strap you in place until you gave me a good answer, but then I'd be charged with unlawful imprisonment and manslaughter after you starve to death. There's no escaping the truth:

It means nothing.

Absolutely nothing. In this context the word "competitive" has had the meaning sucked out. It's an avatar, an ideal, an authority to appeal to. The statement:

"I think game X is more competitive than game Y."

...translates directly to any of the following:

"I want to believe that game X is more valid than game Y."
"I want to believe that winning at game X matters more than game Y."
"I want to believe that understanding and appreciating game X means more than game Y."

...none of which we can say aloud because the meaninglessness and raw subjectivity is transparent.

The word "competitive" as used here is empty. It's abstract. It's a bunker.

And anyone throwing it around is trying to sell you something.

**********

The other examples continue to remain exercises left to the reader.
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09-02-2013, 05:29 AM
Post: #16
RE: Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
I think you accidentally got part of your previous post into your latest post.
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09-02-2013, 04:05 PM
Post: #17
RE: Cognitive Kill Switches in Game Design
You mean it's the exact same post, character for character.
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