Gaming is ‘state-advancing’

I don’t have much new stuffs to write these days, since gaming wise, I’m kinda just grinding in Dynasty Warriors 7, Neptune Re;Birth 1 and the Love Live! SIF event.

Grinding in Dynasty Warriors 7 was so boring and I didn’t need to use my full mental capacity that I had time to think about stuffs. Like what the **** am I doing (lol ^^;)

So I thought of one way to see gaming (just one way, and might not even be a good one) (I had inklings about it for quite some time but only now that I actually wrote it down).

Basically you can see it as ‘advancing the state’.

Which, in the case of game, the state is probably the save data (and even the trophy list when there’s one).

You start with an initial save, and the goal is to slowly ‘transform’ it (and since the act is ‘moving forward’ most of the time, ‘advance’) via means within the game (since there are also ‘external’ ways, which could be considered cheating) into the ‘ultimate’ save (where everything is unlocked, everything is 99, etc).

(We might not even go all the way to the ultimate save but stop at a ‘good enough’ state that we are happy about).

The state has ‘variables’ (things that can change in values) (every game has a different set, and some genres have obviously more variables than others).

The variables can be seen differently in terms of how easily the values can be changed, and what you actually have to do in order to change their values.

For example, at one extreme, the easiest variable to change is your playing time. You don’t even need to do anything in the game and the value just keeps increasing (unless it ‘rolls over’ lol).

Next is money, which is kinda everywhere and there are various ways to get it; dropped by monsters, hidden in treasure chests, quest rewards, etc.

Then there are variables that are more discrete (changing less ‘smoothly’) like character levels where, even though the characters keep increasing their experience points as they battle, only when the experience points reach certain values that the levels increase.

Like money, some variable values can be changed via different ways (though probably not as many as money), e.g., some weapons can be bought from shops or dropped by monsters. Others only have one way.

Some variable values can be changed by converting from other variables, e.g., 1 bronze armor for 200G in shop.

There are variables that are ‘binary’, i.e., simply on or off, locked or unlocked affairs etc. Trophies are among these variables.

Some variables are grouped into more complex variables, e.g. a character is composed of his/her stats.

For the rest you basically have to do ‘non-trivial stuffs’ (other than battling monsters or buying things in shops) in order to change their values, e.g., a weapon that can only be unlocked by finding it in a treasure chest or synthesizing it from the right materials.

Some even have a lot of conditions or strict requirements, e.g., getting a game’s particular ending (which may contribute to unlocking an entry in the album).

Some variables ‘survive’ through playthroughs. Some get reset when a new playthrough begins.

Some of these activities might be time-consuming, hard, complicated or require ‘preparations’ or ‘skills’, i.e., getting S ranks in certain missions, getting trophy for killing 5 enemies with one grenade, beating the game in ultimate difficulty etc.

So yeah, to sum it up, you can see a game as a state consisting of a set of variables with varying degrees of ease and ‘nature of the task’ of changing their values.

It’s pretty interesting when I look at the games I own and ‘try’ to see them in terms of their variables (it’s hard to see all the variables aka ‘the whole picture’ since there are usually hundreds if not thousands of these variables).

And some games require more ‘skills’ (action games) while others more on understanding of their variables and how these variables interact with one another and taking advantage of them (turn-based RPGs).

And we are supposedly supposed to ‘have fun’ as we go changing these variables and advancing to a ‘better’ state, as the game design tries to make it hard for us to reach ultimate state easily and may even have us do various stupid things.

So what is this view good for?

I guess one is to be more mindful of these variables, so you might know better about how they can help you gain advantages in the game, and the ways in which you can change their values (e.g., good leveling spots, battle preparations).

The other is… let’s say you’re distressed that the trophies are taking too long to unlock. I guess you can instead focus your attention on the easier variables (as long as you’re still on the path toward getting the trophies), watch yourself increasing their values or unlocking them and feel at least a (small) sense of progress.

(Progress is supposedly a beautiful thing)

You can also for example plan your next session by picking only a few variables to focus increasing their values on (so the session has clear goals).

It might even be used as a way to design games (by designing the variables, i.e. how they can be changed by the player and how they interact with one another, etc).

As someone pointed out, some games might simply be ‘number games’ once you break them down.

Guess I’m thinking too much… this is what a boring grind can cause me to do lol ^^;

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3 thoughts on “Gaming is ‘state-advancing’

  1. OshareKeiji

    Well, the fact that you can go as far as to make a summary analysis of all that says it all: When faced with a mundane task, your mind still runs like clockwork. Many people I know just space out.

    In my case, I partially focus on the game and think about random stuff, ranging from the day’s little events, my newly learned vocabulary Kanji (or otaku keywords slated to be added in my database), among other things… I’ve also delved into similar insights like yours when i comes to gaming, though not as deep in scale.

    For the record, my current gaming situation is not really far from yours; I’m currently working on my last trophy in EDF:IA which entails money grinding to get all shop weapons… though it’s somewhat less painful since I’ve maxed out all 4 armor ranks so I have access to the one-shot “Pesticide” nukes.

    Reply
    1. Helu Post author

      Lol, thanks for the kind words ^^ I was indeed spacing out, but it was so boring that I would fall asleep. I had to think of something, so I also had random thoughts but then drifted toward negative ones (I guess it’s a pretty common thing to happen when people are doing mundane tasks). Then I thought about how to view things in a more positive light and it kinda resulted in this thought (not quite what I was looking for lol ^^;)

      Yep, these past few days I often saw your PSN online status playing that game ^^ I know it’s not really about luck, but good luck in getting the platinum! X)

      Reply
  2. OshareKeiji

    Thanks… and actually it does require some luck, since the bugs can survive a nuke blast by randomly burrowing and that delay cuts into my grind time. Waiting 15 extra seconds to reload while braving a swarm can get quite stressful.

    The most important thing is even if you do space out, you can still maintain your train of thought. That can benefit you in a lot of other things in life apart from gaming.

    Reply

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