“It was meaningless, futile, illogical, but such is the curse of being run by a human brain.” Was how Dr. Letz Shake explained his determination to defeat Travis Touchdown in No More Heroes 2. For a machine it invoked a duel sense of purpose and illogical drive towards the meaningless and counterproductive. For the audience, it invoked a sense of ah or amusement before the fight began, but sadly it is why the industry will be doomed to poor monetization schemes.
Setting aside the competing models for the location and origin of consciousness, science demonstrates that the more primitive parts of the human brain do not focus on the long term. Instead, they tend to function in the short term, leaving the more modern parts of the brain to focus on long term planning and understanding of consequences.
As Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist Saul Perlmutter explained, “We’re limited by being human. We want results fast, and we discount the future.” Leading to the issue, the more cognizant one is, the more likely they are to understand the ramification of their actions in both the short and long term. People with higher cognition can take past stimuli, observation and create reasoned ideas of how an event will play out.
And then you have the majority of people who don’t have inner monologs. People who generally display lower levels of cognition tend to seek and desire immediate gratification rather than long term benefits or delayed gratification according to a study published in Judgement and Decision Making.
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Unlocking various skins or enjoying a sense of accomplishment from finishing a game are qualities of people that can enjoy delayed gratification and typically possess higher intelligence. Most people will not finish a game, just as most people will not buy a loot box or microtransactions. Equally, though they won’t delay gratification by refusing to purchase games that contain these atrocious mechanisms.
After all, if it doesn’t affect them immediately and directly, many simply don’t care. What are they going to do, not purchase the latest Call of Duty? Be the only person in their friend circle not enjoying the latest blockbuster game and risk social ostracization?
Humans are creatures immensely sensitive to social ostracism. All available research demonstrates this to be the case. When we are ostracized, our internal psychological machinery falls apart. We lose focus, drive, and purpose in life as we are cut off from the group. The human mind will attribute the idea of being ostracized no differently than it perceives and gauges physical pain.
Rationally those with high cognition can offset this concern by understanding they can gain more in the long term than any benefit alleviating the short-term concern will generate. For those that can only focus on immediate gratification, the idea of being ostracized is unbearable. They’ll buy the overpriced skins, pay to get ahead rather than work hard, and they’ll never refuse to purchase the latest title unless the public perception is against it.
In short, because many people are like this, we will likely have to regulate and outlaw bad practices rather than rely on humans doing what is right for themselves in the long run. Do not expect industry leaders to rise to the occasion. It is not greed, but the same lack of long-term planning drives them to refuse to invest in improving worker conditions and general happiness. Even though studies demonstrating any such investment returns $3.27 for every dollar spent. These are not the type of people who are going to maintain a healthy ecosystem. A statement easily proven by the recent price hike of video games during times of economic uncertainty.