Sunday, June 16, 2013

Samoans... who knew, right?

Today I have a story that involves books (Ender's Game) and puppy dogs!

The story isn't about either of those things though. It's really about the psychology of player behavior in Online Games. There's also some stuff about smiles and Samoans :)

Alright, let's start with the game

Recently, I ended a League of Legends match with this result

2 quick explanations, for those of you that don't play the game-

1) What does "So did those 20 stacks get you very far, Orianna?" mean?
He's taunting me
-> I did well, but we lost anyways
--> 20 "stacks" of the item Mejais is very hard to get
---> Especially when every single person on your team dies more often than they kill (called "feeding")
----> It's considered particularly rude since it was the least helpful player taunting the most helpful one, then quickly leave the chat room

2) What's this "gold ribbon" I'm about to talk about?
The creators of the game have a very clever positive reinforcement system
-> It's called Honor, and it's in addition to the more usual negative reinforcement systems
--> The funny thing about positive reinforcement? Even if you're well aware it's being used on you, it still works! They even use it on olympic athletes [1] [2]
---> I've worked hard to earn the highest rank in their Honor system (a "Gold Ribbon", like I'm a dang labrador retriever ^.^ )
----> And having worked hard, I am now loathe to risk losing it ;)

Now let's bring in the book!

So the question that started all this off happened when I showed the above screenshot to my friend

He noticed my *extra* bit of politeness ("gg, you guys sure beat us good, you earned it") after the game. He commented on it. We'd just had a frustrating loss, and while that amount of "sportsmanship" or whatever might be a bit much to ask even of an *average* person-off-the-street, he knew it was *particularly* difficult for me

That's because he was well aware that in the old days, whenever I'd go 10-0-10 but my teammates are all like 2-8 at 20 minutes, I might end the game saying things like "I hope your house catches fire with you still inside it" <.<

And that brings us to the main point of this post. I'd like to tell you a story from the Ender's Game series now, in a book called Children of the Mind

The two main characters in this chapter, Peter and Wang-mu, are trying to get to a holy man on his holy island on the Samoan planet Pacifica. The information they'll get there may help save their own world, but they're being thwarted at every turn by a hospitable-yet-unyielding family of locals

What strikes Wang-mu as particularly odd is how polite the father has been to them all evening. He's a Samoan warrior, a huge and intimidating man, and he hasn't stopped smiling or laughing all night. What they have yet to realize is that they, an American boy and a Chinese girl, have been stepping on cultural and religious taboos all night long

    "And we can see him?"
    "You'd have to spend a week purifying yourselves before you can set foot on Atatua --"
    "Impure feet tickling the Gods!" cried her husband, laughing uproariously. "That's why they call it the Island of the Laughing God!"
    Peter shifted uncomfortably.
    "Don't you like my husband's jokes?" asked Grace.
    "No, I think -- I mean, they're simply not -- I don't get them, that's all."
    "Well, that's because they're not very funny," said Grace. "But my husband is cheerfully determined to keep laughing through all this so he doesn't get angry at you and kill you with his bare hands."
    Wang-mu gasped, for she knew at once that this was true; without realizing it, she had been aware all along of the rage seething under the huge man's laughter, and when she looked at his calloused, massive hands, she realized that he could surely tear her apart without even breaking into a sweat.
    "Why would you threaten us with death?" asked Peter, acting more belligerent than Wang-mu wished.
    "The opposite!" said Grace. "I tell you that my husband is determined not to let rage at your audacity and blasphemy control his behavior. To try to visit Atatua without even taking the trouble to learn that letting you set foot there, uncleansed and uninvited, would shame us and filthy us as a people for a hundred generations -- I think he's doing rather well not to have taken a blood oath against you."


So there you have it. Do you see now the connection I was trying to draw?

I'm the Samoan

Riot - the makers of the game - trained me like a labrador freaking retriever. And it worked! I am loathe to risk losing that silly gold ribbon, even though I know perfectly well what they're doing with the whole positive reinforcement thing

I've said it before and I'll say it again: They're kind of Evil Geniuses over there :D

Final bonus tie-in: Puppy dogs!

Bukov (6:34): In dog training we call that "mutually exclusive behavior" or something like that
i can't remember. contradictory behavior maybe. I can't remember the word
the idea is if you're a positive reinforcement trainer and want a dog to stop jumping on someone, for example
you can't beat the dog when it jumps on someone
that's negative reinforcement
(and, although effective, has many bad side effects. Thus the reason not to use negative reinforcement)
UnheardMarksman (6:35): exactly
Bukov (6:36): So, using the mutually exclusive behavior technique ("incompatible behaviors" iirc)
Instead, you train him whenever he see's an exciting new person, to SIT automatically
or to go get a favorite toy
or to go to a x taped to the rug
or whatever
UnheardMarksman (6:37): yeah
that's smart
Bukov (6:37): because it's *physically impossible* for him to both (a) be sitting and (b) be jumping on someone, at the same time
Thus, if I wanna keep my stupid, stupid, I-see-what-you-did-there-Riot-you-sneaky-russians-:P Gold Ribbon
I have to make myself be mega polite
to avoid old eric -mode
where he used to wish painful death on everyone who cost him the game :D <.<
UnheardMarksman (6:37): smart smart riot
Bukov (6:38): Iknoright?
Those evil bastards =)
It totally worked haha
UnheardMarksman (6:38): they're geniuses
Bukov (6:38): forserious