Altruism Training

To help continue the message of community-building I want to build a list of games which promote/train cooperation (and optimally altruism as well) through their play mechanics.  Please contribute any titles which you think are fitting and/or reblog if you think someone you know may know of something to contribute.

Below is my list so far.

Video Games:
Journey
Guild Wars 2

Boardgames:
Space Alert

Opportunities for Greatness

Within the last hour or so I witnessed Zoe Quinn’s Tumblr blog get broken into and used to spam harmful messages as well as personal information for the purpose of causing further harm.  Before that I was discussing issues of race and inequality in the US. 

In fact, this whole week I have spent a fair amount of time either reading about or talking about race inequality in the US, and specifically the tragedy of Ferguson.  Prior to this week I was discussing the awful implications of the loss of Net Neutrality.

Recent events have given us an opportunity to show our true colors.  To show how truly great or terrible we are.  In these times it is important for us to step up rather than shy away.

This doesn’t just mean yelling about atrocities on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, or what-have-you.  Before I saw the attack on Zoe Quinn I was attending an Andrew W.K. concert in which he sang about being positive, having fun, and partying.  What he is doing is actually important as he moves to promote happiness.  Similarly during the attack on Ms. Quinn there were a few supporters who managed to break through with positive messages.

Right now we need to help each other.  We need to let each other know how much we care.  We need to come to the defense of our fellow man when we witness abuse.  This is a time to help both friends and strangers.

Very little is obvious in the research on human decision-making and happiness. Very few things are proven. One thing that is proven is this: the only regrets octogenarians have are for the risks not taken. Here’s why: If the risk taken does pan out, it is good. But if it doesn’t — and here’s the key thing — we find a way to justify the risk taken as learning. The Risk Not Taken (via metacog)

(via metacog)

fortune-cracker:

softboycollective:

iwriteaboutfeminism:

12:01 AM in Ferguson. Curfew broken.

INDICT HIM AND WE LEAVE

This is incredible. I hope the people win.

I’m keeping this going because this is some of the more recent news, and because I’ve noticed a drop in posting about Ferguson.  We need to not let this fall through the cracks like we have with so many other instances of inequality.  We also need to make sure we don’t become complacent if the cop gets charged with murder, because the issue is much bigger than him.  The outrage needs to last until a more sweeping change occurs.

howtonotsuckatgamedesign:

mirrepp:

Some harsh but very very true words

When people let me review their portfolios (on career day or open days at my game design school) I explicitly ban them from commenting during the review… …because otherwise they will follow the impulse to downplay everything I see in an attempt at being humble."this is an old image…"
"I’m not happy with that one…""this is just a sketch…"
"I did this really quickly…""there is better stuff on later pages…"It’s totally understandable to have those impulses. The quality of art is not empirical data and therefore impossible to measure. Good art, bad art, it all comes down to standards. And you don’t want to come off as naive or self-absorbed.But just don’t do it. Don’t talk yourself down in front of others. In the best case you have someone supportive who now thinks “damn, this person needs to be prepped up all the time. Do I really want to work with somebody like that” or in worst case “now that you say it, yeah, this is kinda lame/rushed/unfinished/lazy, go away.”You can only submit what you have. If that is not enough, then it’s not enough. Your attitude will not change that. But if it is enough, you can do serious harm by not being confident of who you are now.This means appreciating what you are able to do right now and have a clear vision of what you want to learn, be confident that you will learn it in time. Be proud.

I think this is good advice for any pursuit.  Being humble is good, but you can do so quietly instead of negatively priming someone else’ first impressions.

howtonotsuckatgamedesign:

mirrepp:

Some harsh but very very true words

When people let me review their portfolios (on career day or open days at my game design school) I explicitly ban them from commenting during the review… …because otherwise they will follow the impulse to downplay everything I see in an attempt at being humble.

"this is an old image…"

"I’m not happy with that one…"

"this is just a sketch…"

"I did this really quickly…"

"there is better stuff on later pages…"

It’s totally understandable to have those impulses. The quality of art is not empirical data and therefore impossible to measure. Good art, bad art, it all comes down to standards. And you don’t want to come off as naive or self-absorbed.

But just don’t do it. Don’t talk yourself down in front of others. In the best case you have someone supportive who now thinks “damn, this person needs to be prepped up all the time. Do I really want to work with somebody like that” or in worst case “now that you say it, yeah, this is kinda lame/rushed/unfinished/lazy, go away.”

You can only submit what you have. If that is not enough, then it’s not enough. Your attitude will not change that. But if it is enough, you can do serious harm by not being confident of who you are now.

This means appreciating what you are able to do right now and have a clear vision of what you want to learn, be confident that you will learn it in time. 

Be proud.




I think this is good advice for any pursuit.  Being humble is good, but you can do so quietly instead of negatively priming someone else’ first impressions.

Releasing Depression Quest on Steam Today

ohdeargodbees:

image

After a long uphill battle since getting Greenlit in January, Depression Quest was planned to, and approved for, launch on Steam today. Literally minutes after we got the notification, beloved actor Robin Williams was found dead from a suspected suicide after a long struggle with depression. We were all ready to hit the big red button the minute that the news broke.

So now I’m left with the question - do we launch, or not? I turned to twitter and my most trusted friends for advice because I can see going a few different ways. It’s not an easy decision.

The game is available for free online using a pay what you want model including absolutely nothing, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity to combat the stigma and culture of silence around this debilitating disease. A question that held up the porting process on Steam was the question of how to implement pay-what-you-want in a backend that doesn’t support it. The two ways we could ape it would be in app purchases (microtransactions) or through providing DLC that had different payment tiers. Both of these seemed suboptimal. The microtransactions require getting a secure server that I don’t have the money to maintain while praying that those who have already been very vocal about wanting to destroy both myself and my work wouldn’t be able to take it down, in addition to adding in ugly interface elements that hurt the design of the game. So that’s not really an option. The problem with adding in DLC with nothing that really offers much to the player is that is a good way to breed misunderstandings, and I don’t think it would be ethical to charge someone knowing that there’s a percentage of people who would feel ripped off or misled. I don’t want to take that chance.

So then the choice becomes do we charge or not? Many people were pushing me to charge, citing the help we could offer charities and the value of getting paid for your hard work and taking that money and making more things that could help people.

But none of that felt right. When making something you have to ask yourself what’s the spirit of the thing you’ve made. Why have you made this particular thing? And with Depression Quest, the answer has always been clear as day.

Depression Quest has always been an attempt to make a tool to help people understand depression and reach out to others living with the reality of this disease.

There is no way, in my mind, to ethically put something intended to be a tool for helping people behind a paywall. None.

This was the same guiding principle behind putting the game back on Greenlight after withdrawing initially due to threats and harassment. It’s a really really fucking hard thing to accept - that you have made something that can help someone else, especially when you yourself suffer from depression and have a very hard time accepting that you could do anything for anyone and aren’t totally worthless. But I’ve heard from too many people, heard too many stories from you wonderful fucking people, to ignore that. I love all of you too much to discount your lived experiences, so I accept that the game can help people seek help. Someone getting help or even feeling understood when they feel like an alien on their own planet is too rare of a thing to gamble with, too important to flinch from because you’re worried what people will think of you or say to you.

Similarly, that is why today leaves me conflicted. Majorly, massively conflicted. The last thing I want for the game is for the launch to seem opportunistic or like it is capitalizing on a massive tragedy like we’ve seen today. So again, I’ve turned to you. I’ve thought through a number of possible scenarios, and I feel like I have a responsibility to release today. I know there may be a worst case of people assuming the launch somehow is trying to capitalize on tragedy. However, I would rather have those people hate me than the people who are currently quietly suffering with this illness sit at their dinner tables tonight and hear the discussion of today’s news, hear people not understand how someone who had so much could kill themselves, and lack a resource they could have needed right then to point to and say “this is why”. I’d rather have people flood my inbox with threats again and call me a monster if it means that one person who was shocked by today’s news and maybe thinking of trying to reach out and get help could use this tool I’ve made to take the vitally important first steps towards clawing their way out of the hell that is this disease.

I feel like I have a responsibility to those who could be helped. Depression Quest was never ever meant to be just a game, and it has definitely done more than a traditional game might. I get regular emails from therapists who use it with their patients and families of depression sufferers to build a dialog and a bridge to understanding. It’s been used in classroom settings, people have played it with their parents and significant others to start showing them things they had a hard time verbalizing. Not taking those stories and those people seriously and accepting the role that this game was able to play in their own massive undertakings of self care would be disrespecting those people’s struggles. And I can’t do that.

There’s something here that people who don’t live with depression might not understand. When you suffer from this, the small windows of opportunity you have that you feel like you have the energy to and self-worth enough to try and take steps to change things, to want something more than feeling like you barely have your head above water, those chances and that motivation is fucking *rare*. I can’t in good conscience hold back offering someone something that could help them start making real changes in their life or even just offer a temporary relief or better understanding for the sake of reducing the risk of offending people or hurting my own reputation. If I was sitting down across a table from someone who asked me “how could you release the day Robin Williams took his own life” I would know how I could answer. I’d know why I did it, even if I felt conflicted about doing it. But if I sat down across from someone who asked “How could you hold back on releasing this game when I needed it” I would feel ashamed.

So I am launching the game. Quietly. I will not be promoting it until a respectful time later. But I want it to be out there and available in all the ways I can make it be available so that if someone needs it, they have it. After agonizing over it and asking the general public, they’ve overwhelmingly responded with pleas to release it. Especially among depression sufferers.

I never feel like I know what I’m doing, and like all I can ever do is do what feels right after consulting with people for outside perspective. This isn’t an easy choice, but I think it’s the right one.

Please, please, please take care of yourselves. Tell the people in your life you love them. Don’t stop pushing for more understanding and better care of those battling mental illness.

The game is available for free/pay what you want in the following places:

Web version is here at www.depressionquest.com

Itch.io downloadable version is here at http://the-quinnspiracy.itch.io/depressionquest

Steam version available at http://store.steampowered.com/app/270170

I love you all.

Yesterday I got myself an awesome new tattoo!  Here’s a [bad] picture of what it looks like (hurray for mirrors flipping the image, and for camera angles managing to hide my first tattoo, hah!)  I attached the second image so people could see where the image came from and actually read the text.

I’ll also use this space to go ahead and say, “Read Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli!”  It’s such a wonderful graphic novel, and it really helped me through rough times a few years ago.  It is full of beautiful imagery, great quotes, and fantastic design and narrative synergy.

neurosciencestuff:

A little video gaming ‘produces well-adjusted children’
Playing video games for a short period each day could have a small but positive impact on child development, a study by Oxford University suggests.
Scientists found young people who spent less than an hour a day engaged in video games were better adjusted than those who did not play at all.
But children who used consoles for more than three hours reported lower satisfaction with their lives overall.
The research is published in the journal Pediatrics.
Read more

I wish the summary would have mentioned what kinds of games the kids were playing, as that is actually an extremely important factor to control for.  Were the sub-one-hour kids playing exclusively one kind of game?  Similar with the super-three-hour kids?  What about game devices or gaming environments?  Were they only playing alone, or with family and friends?
While I am happy to see positive gaming results in the news, I can’t help but point out how little this data seems to actually tell us.  “Gaming” isn’t just a one-item review like asking kids how much time they devote to basketball (and even that question has some extra bits to unravel).  We need serious research which understands that different game mechanics affect people in different ways.
For example:  It is very possible that the kids playing for over three hours were playing RPGs which are often designed to produce addictive behaviors through variable reward schedules.  Thus these games require a large time investment and do not promote a healthy emotional state.  But this also may not be the case in this study.  We simply don’t know since they didn’t track that kind of information.

neurosciencestuff:

A little video gaming ‘produces well-adjusted children’

Playing video games for a short period each day could have a small but positive impact on child development, a study by Oxford University suggests.

Scientists found young people who spent less than an hour a day engaged in video games were better adjusted than those who did not play at all.

But children who used consoles for more than three hours reported lower satisfaction with their lives overall.

The research is published in the journal Pediatrics.

Read more

I wish the summary would have mentioned what kinds of games the kids were playing, as that is actually an extremely important factor to control for.  Were the sub-one-hour kids playing exclusively one kind of game?  Similar with the super-three-hour kids?  What about game devices or gaming environments?  Were they only playing alone, or with family and friends?

While I am happy to see positive gaming results in the news, I can’t help but point out how little this data seems to actually tell us.  “Gaming” isn’t just a one-item review like asking kids how much time they devote to basketball (and even that question has some extra bits to unravel).  We need serious research which understands that different game mechanics affect people in different ways.

For example:  It is very possible that the kids playing for over three hours were playing RPGs which are often designed to produce addictive behaviors through variable reward schedules.  Thus these games require a large time investment and do not promote a healthy emotional state.  But this also may not be the case in this study.  We simply don’t know since they didn’t track that kind of information.