Enjoy the Maze

A behavioral scientist is a type of psychologist who spends a lot of time putting rats through mazes. Sometimes it’s a big maze, sometimes it’s a very small and simple maze. The one thing they all have in common is the cheese at the end.

The rats behave consistently. They move through the maze as fast as they can to get to the cheese. That’s just natural reward seeking behavior. Every rat we test is always going to get to the cheese as fast as they can. At no point do the rats ever slow down and just enjoy the maze.

Yet, our MMOs keep asking us to enjoy our maze. In the case of Lotro’s summer-festival maze, they mean it literally. But I wouldn’t be going through that maze were it not for the reward. I could get a new wall-paper for my house or a new fish-slap emote!

Our video game masters don’t want us reaching the end of the maze and getting full too quickly… so they ask us to slow down. We don’t. So they make the maze longer. They tilt the maze so that we’re struggling to go uphill to get to our cheese. Bastards! Why couldn’t they just make our maze more complicated and puzzle-driven? Then at least I’d feel smart when I beat the other rats there. Feeling smart is an especially nice little piece of cheese.

Really, if they wanted me to slow down, all they have to do is drop little bits of cheese all throughout the maze. Then I’d actually have something to stop and enjoy.

Published by

Suzina

Suzina is a 27 year old who usally plays the same MMOs as her husband.
Games played: UO, EQ2, FFXI, SWG, LOTRO.

9 thoughts on “Enjoy the Maze”

  1. So long as the maze is comfortable and pretty to look at, and I’m not actually starving to death in it, the piece of cheese can damn well wait til I’m ready for it.

  2. Really, if they wanted me to slow down, all they have to do is drop little bits of cheese all throughout the maze. Then I’d actually have something to stop and enjoy.

    But when you have eaten the morsels from one part of the maze, you’re going to move on. That’ll leave a part of the maze completely empty! We can’t have that.

  3. “Really, if they wanted me to slow down, all they have to do is drop little bits of cheese all throughout the maze. ”

    imho, EQ2 did this to such a degree that there was no point to getting to the reward. In fact, they pretty much made the walls and floor of the maze out of cheese. Eventually you get tired of cheese and want something else, like pretzels. I’d go a long way for some pretzels. :)

  4. “Why couldn’t they just make our maze more complicated and puzzle-driven? Then at least I’d feel smart when I beat the other rats there. Feeling smart is an especially nice little piece of cheese.”

    But most would feel dumb, and unless you hand a cookie to everyone, it’s niche-ville for your MMO.

  5. I just got back from a bar where nice man will bring you cheese (and fruit and crackers) on a plate. Also wine or snooty beer. No mazes, you just sit in a chair and they do your bidding. Cheese is great.

    Wait, what was the topic?

  6. Nice analogy.

    I think a puzzle driven maze is a good idea, but like Syncaine pointed out, it would make some people feel dumb. There is also the problem that the solutions to the puzzles would be exposed online and then there would be no challenge at all… unless the puzzles have a random element to their solution, and their difficulties/rewards intelligently controlled to be specific to the user (kinda like a handicap)…

  7. It’s not actually true that players take the shortest route to the cheese. There’s lots of different ways to build a maze.

    http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20010427/hopson_01.htm

    I would argue that designers do drop cheeses throughout the maze. Crafting systems, instances, special pets, etc. Ignoring them is different than complaining that they’re not present. To use myself as an example, I never got a single character in City of Heroes to max level. I was too busy playing alts and amusing myself with side activities.

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