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#1 Edited by Icemael (6338 posts) -

Don Daglow, who started designing games in 1971 and went on to co-design Neverwinter Nights, recently held a presentation where he explained the American online gamer to European developers. In summary, they are uneducated, sore losers with miniscule attention spans. Designing a game that'll do well with them means not incorporating too much history since they know nothing about it, making everything simple and constantly rewarding them for the tiniest things. Worth mentioning is that Daglow is himself an American, born and raised.
 
http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-08-13-what-european-developers-need-to-know-about-american-online-gamers 
 
The best parts: 

Firstly, he pointed out that American schools emphasise the student as a free thinker. Students do not fail in class. They are challenged and they are encouraged to learn from the experience, but the actual idea of failure has been dramatically reduced. Failure doesn't kick in until students reach the age of 17 and begin to apply for colleges and discover that rejection and failure is real and there's a steep impact from that. So American users see failure in a game or app as a problem with that game, not a user error. This is an issue for designers because traditionally failure is used as an inducement to succeed. So the solution for games designers is to break down the experience simply, minimise text and show the audience things rather then tell them. And reward success constantly, even in tutorials where there is only one button to press.


The second point raised by Daglow is that users are 'turbo-browsing' the internet and their attention span is tiny. As an example he pointed out that commercials on TV used to be 60 seconds long, then they were reduced to 30 seconds, and now clicking on a YouTube video you'll be faced with a five second advert. With such an extremely tiny window to grab eyeball attention, anything frustrating will cause the player to switch off. Daglow also pointed to the console business, where once a player bought a game the designer would spend time slowly introducing them to the mechanics and story. In the online space this is all an obstacle and the first few hours need to be streamlined. This is where the games designer needs to think like George Lucas or a James Bond movie - grab the player's attention in the first ten minutes with a thrill ride. Whatever your expectations of the time it takes a player to warm to your game, cut it in half, said Daglow. And if you're coming directly from the console space, slash all you expectations by a factor of ten because the patience of American users is so much less. 


The fifth and final point was that European designers need to understand that American history is not taught the same way. People know who Steve-O is but not Stalin, said Daglow, who illustrated his point with a six-point slide on the shallow history knowledge of his countrymen: 

  • Romans Vs Barbarians.
  • Dark Ages, nothing happened. 
  • Renaissance, then we got cars and planes. 
  • Stuff was going on in China and Japan, too. 
  • US got Independence, had Civil War over slavery. 
  • Lots of big wars in the last century.
#2 Posted by Soapy86 (2632 posts) -

He's not wrong.

#3 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5691 posts) -

This:

@Icemael said:

Failure doesn't kick in until students reach the age of 17 and begin to apply for colleges and discover that rejection and failure is real and there's a steep impact from that. So American users see failure in a game or app as a problem with that game, not a user error.

Heavily implies that the collegiate/job selection system is flawless, which ironically is a flaw with American logic. The onus is placed on the individual but the system itself is chaotic so no matter how talented the individual there is always a substantial chance for failure (unless they were born in a privileged position); particularly in times of economic stress.

That's kind of the core of his argument so the whole thing is flawed (and potentially offensive) as a result. Yes there are a lot of stupid people out there and people tailor their products to stupidity (hence the redundancy of sequels and shooters), but a simple change to education won't fix the vast number of issues that society has; certainly not before the already present damage runs its full course.

#4 Posted by Animasta (14711 posts) -

@Soapy86 said:

He's not wrong.

yep

#5 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11902 posts) -

Are we talking about the original Neverwinter Nights, the online D&D game from the early 90s? Or are we talking about the 2002 Bioware game of the same name?

Either way, he's not entirely wrong, for as gross an oversimplification this is.

#6 Posted by Animasta (14711 posts) -

@ArbitraryWater: I think it's the guy who's making the new one? I'm not sure. I thought that one was just called Neverwinter

#7 Posted by TheVeteran13 (1210 posts) -

I don't see why this is exclusive to America. I think it's more of a generational issue than a regional issue.

#8 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11902 posts) -

@Animasta said:

@ArbitraryWater: I think it's the guy who's making the new one? I'm not sure. I thought that one was just called Neverwinter

Considering the statement that he started designing games from 1971 onward, I'm going to guess he designed the original Neverwinter Nights.

#9 Posted by Sackmanjones (4738 posts) -

We have some shitty public schools, but we got some pretty great colleges. 

#10 Posted by Animasta (14711 posts) -

@ArbitraryWater said:

@Animasta said:

@ArbitraryWater: I think it's the guy who's making the new one? I'm not sure. I thought that one was just called Neverwinter

Considering the statement that he started designing games from 1971 onward, I'm going to guess he designed the original Neverwinter Nights.

you are probably right! I am just the typical american online gamer yessiree and I cannot read

#11 Edited by Turambar (6808 posts) -

@Animasta said:

@Soapy86 said:

He's not wrong.

yep

His bit on education is kinda wrong actually, in terms of what teachers in fact aim to do.

On the second quoted point, the internet is not an American thing. To place blame on youtube would mean the symptoms should be appearing in Europe as well.

Lastly, this is anecdotal, but none of my history students lack that kind of knowledge. None of the history students of the student teachers within my cohort have that degree of ignorance. Maybe we are just the best teachers ever, but I'd say its far more reasonable to suggest not assuming the comments we all love to make fun of on facebook actually properly represents the generation.

#12 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5691 posts) -

It would be much less offensive if he coated it with business bullshit terminology, since this is essentially a business bullshit strategy; if an effective one. The internet itself is much more to blame for the ineffectuality of young generations of Americans than the educational system; free access to infinite information and entertainment isn't necessarily a good thing.

#13 Posted by Rohok (554 posts) -

He's very close to the truth, if not entirely spot on. Played Planetside 2 today for the first time (big fan of Planetside 1), and I think that game illustrates exactly what he's talking about. Same with Shogun 2 vs Rome: Total War.

#14 Posted by Napalm (9020 posts) -

He makes some points, but I think the whole attention-span thing can easily be weighed at every other country in the world, too. YouTube is nearly global, and that's the anchor of his fucking argument? Also, we're a dumb country, a problem which can can be leveled at our shitty education system, and has rightly been so. Not necessarily the kids themselves.

I'm also glad to know that he thinks life and living is so black and fucking white.

#15 Posted by Grimhild (723 posts) -

I'm not sure I agree with the assumption that you can make a one to one comparison with eliminating antiquated design mechanics for a leisure activity and the education level of a loose and undefined pool of statistics.

But, hey, I'm just a dumb American. What do I know?

/eyeroll

#16 Posted by Fredchuckdave (5691 posts) -

Actually if he wanted to make an insightful argument the process of creating consumers out of young people is most likely also the source of stupidity. If you tailor cartoons, advertisements, and positive reinforcement to the lowest common denominator you logically won't create any particular incentive to act independently or to utilize deductive processes; in essence people are stupid because businesses prefer easier transactions.

#17 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@Turambar:

A.) What grade are you teaching? That might be important to mention.

B.) To be fair, American education does gloss over quite a bit. For instance, from what I've seen, the conditions that created the slave trade are never really talked about. Like, at all. The narrative seems to be, "Columbus, Pilgrims, slavery, American Revolution-y stuff". (I'm not trying to be a dick about this. I've just always found it odd that a detail like that is kinda glossed over, especially since the absence of it may give students the idea that it simply naturally followed.)

#18 Posted by JazGalaxy (1576 posts) -

@Soapy86 said:

He's not wrong.

I agree with him 100%.

The rising number of people who want to play games where you can't fail is disturbing me to my core, in terms of my interest in videogames. I have absolutely zero interest in playing games where poor decision making or reactions on my part yield no negative effect. The concept of playing a game so I can feel like I'm winning at life and doing better than people who payed less to play the game just disgusts me.

I mean, honestly, listening to the Weekend Confirmed Podcast this today and hearing them talk about the Key system in Borderlands 2 was baffling. Why would anyone want how quickly they can respond to randy pitchfords tweets to affect their gameplay? Why would they want one of the overly powered weapons he's offering?

#19 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5691 posts) -

@Video_Game_King: Depends on the level of education, history is an extremely weak field in general due to how it is written in the first place (though the topic itself is immensely interesting the narratives that dominant historians actually write is not), but in my experience there was always information of the necessity for labor, the triangle trade, and a pretty extensive discussion of the middle passage. However, learning history from anything but primary sources is going to be a hazy process no matter how you go about doing it.

#20 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@Fredchuckdave:

Probably should have specified that I meant from the African perspective (I doubt they let Europeans enslave them), but beggars can't be choosers.

#21 Posted by Turambar (6808 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

@Turambar:

A.) What grade are you teaching? That might be important to mention.

B.) To be fair, American education does gloss over quite a bit. For instance, from what I've seen, the conditions that created the slave trade are never really talked about. Like, at all. The narrative seems to be, "Columbus, Pilgrims, slavery, American Revolution-y stuff". (I'm not trying to be a dick about this. I've just always found it odd that a detail like that is kinda glossed over, especially since the absence of it may give students the idea that it simply naturally followed.)

Currently 9th grade. I have also taught 7th grade previously.

#22 Edited by Turambar (6808 posts) -

@JazGalaxy said:

@Soapy86 said:

He's not wrong.

I agree with him 100%.

The rising number of people who want to play games where you can't fail is disturbing me to my core, in terms of my interest in videogames. I have absolutely zero interest in playing games where poor decision making or reactions on my part yield no negative effect. The concept of playing a game so I can feel like I'm winning at life and doing better than people who payed less to play the game just disgusts me.

I mean, honestly, listening to the Weekend Confirmed Podcast this today and hearing them talk about the Key system in Borderlands 2 was baffling. Why would anyone want how quickly they can respond to randy pitchfords tweets to affect their gameplay? Why would they want one of the overly powered weapons he's offering?

Can you actually prove it is caused by education standards, historical literacy, and youtube? What's the phrase, correlation doesn't equate causation? In this case, even the correlation is hazy and largely unmeasurable.

#23 Posted by Karkarov (3172 posts) -

While he is generally right about his assessment of the average american in terms of attention span, and maybe even to a lesser extent intellect, he is just about totally wrong as to the reasons. America's school system does need an overhaul but it isn't because of teachers lack of teaching skill or trying to educate, it is because of the fact that the government turned our public school system into a daycare and teachers are literally not allowed to fail students. Much less do what is needed to handle problem kids or get rid of the ones who just don't want to make any effort.

Either way his comments are grossly exaggerated, over simplified, and sort of insulting both to American's in general and his own audience.

#24 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@Karkarov said:

America's school system needs an overhaul because of the fact that the government turned our public school system into a daycare and teachers are literally not allowed to fail students. Much less do what is needed to handle problem kids or get rid of the ones who just don't want to make any effort.

Hey, : local education expert that you are (because I'm not entirely sure if is a teacher yet or if he's still learning), is there any truth in this, or is it way off base?

#25 Posted by Jrinswand (1710 posts) -

Ugh. Another classic case of mediocre game designer bitter about making mediocre game taking his frustration out on "uneducated" Americans.

#26 Posted by Fredchuckdave (5691 posts) -

@Video_Game_King: The Middle passage tends to include a discussion of slave fortresses in Africa and the cooperation with natives as well (X% died on the way to the shore, Y% died on the boats), but I haven't read every different US history book so I couldn't say for sure; but I'm also not as stupid as the NWN guy in terms of making blanket statements. Now, there is a tendency to overemphasize African American history I find as opposed to German American history or Mexican American history (certainly just as marginalized in modern times) or Jewish American History; if you brought up an argument in that regard I could see it being solid.

The problem isn't the educational system in most cases, it's kids paying more attention to their phones, or the chick they want to bone, or their friends and all of that is fueled by the entertainment industry at the core. Trying to be "cool" or "hip" is the reason why most kids are undereducated morons (speaking as a fairly popular person myself back in the day, just not dumb enough).

#27 Posted by WilliamHenry (1204 posts) -

@TheVeteran13 said:

I don't see why this is exclusive to America. I think it's more of a generational issue than a regional issue.

I'll admit I don't know a ton about the education systems in other countries, but I don't recall seeing other countries where teachers are literally not allowed to fail students, no matter how poorly the student has done.

#28 Posted by Forderz (247 posts) -

I think his point about showing, not telling tutorials is spot on, but that's one of the best things to come out of this generational shift.

#29 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@Fredchuckdave said:

Now, there is a tendency to overemphasize African American history I find as opposed to German American history or Mexican American history (certainly just as marginalized in modern times) or Jewish American History; if you brought up an argument in that regard I could see it being solid.

That may be more a problem with American culture in general rather than simply the education system (African Americans are the only race on TV that appear at a realistic rate given population percentages; Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, etc. are essentially ignored). Nevertheless, it is a significant problem.

#30 Edited by Turambar (6808 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

@Karkarov said:

America's school system needs an overhaul because of the fact that the government turned our public school system into a daycare and teachers are literally not allowed to fail students. Much less do what is needed to handle problem kids or get rid of the ones who just don't want to make any effort.

Hey, : local education expert that you are (because I'm not entirely sure if is a teacher yet or if he's still learning), is there any truth in this, or is it way off base?

It's easy to blame the system as a whole, but I'm wary of that. This is speaking specifically of Wisconsin, as I don't have experiences in other states. Much of the decision making in what we teach and how we teach falls to the district, and differ from school to school, school district to school district. There is a limited amount of input that states and the federal government has actually, though that does come in the form of standardized tests (so I guess that limited input influences quite a lot).

To directly answer the question: can I fail students, yes. Can I have a student expelled from my school for conduct? Yes. But when we are speaking of students with low grades that they struggle to pull up, there is no mechanism to automatically kick them out of a public school, nor should there be.

There is also the issue of school standards, how we measure student progress. There is no singular U.S. education standard. We don't have one single nation wide curriculum or text book (something that shocked my mother, who was a high school teacher in China). What results is a hodge podge of state standards on top of the local district standards that skews the quality of education in various states. Every state will tell you their schools are meeting their standards, but without the ability to compare state with state, that doesn't mean much.

The solution is currently a voluntary multi-state collaboration (the federal government has nothing to do with it), where 36 states currently have come together to try to agree on a common core, a common set of standards with which we can accurately measure the proficiency of schools in various states. I know that the history standards are set to roll out next year. Not sure about the other subjects. English and math are in the works and probably will come out, if they aren't out already. Science...well. Evolution. That's all I'll say. Science common standards may never come out.

#31 Posted by JasonR86 (9741 posts) -

He sounds like a grumpy, out of touch old man.

#32 Posted by Fredchuckdave (5691 posts) -

@JasonR86: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ig0NVMVdmoA

#33 Posted by JasonR86 (9741 posts) -

@Fredchuckdave said:

@JasonR86: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ig0NVMVdmoA

That's a big fucking drum set!

#34 Edited by TruthTellah (9306 posts) -

I cannot help but feel that I and everyone else here are dumber from having read what this man allegedly said.

Gamesindustry International should apologize for subjecting anyone to such mind-numbing nonsense. While his intention was to use humor to convey his key points, his explanations for reasonable game design decisions are patently absurd. That anyone might take these explanations seriously is sad. Hopefully this portrayal of his talk at GDC Europe is simply misleading. His advice on improving online games for the market is worth consideration, but his cited reasoning for reaching those conclusions is inherently flawed in a way that encourages ignorance over reality.

#35 Posted by BraveToaster (12589 posts) -

We do need to fix education in this country, but people would rather fund invasions and expensive (and lengthy) games of Hide and Go Seek with terrorist group leaders.

#36 Posted by TruthTellah (9306 posts) -

@JasonR86 said:

He sounds like a grumpy, out of touch old man.

His intention appears to have been to facetiously offer reasonable advice on improving online games for the American market, but presented in this way, it certainly does just come off as though he is a grumpy, out of touch old man. Hopefully he can perhaps clarify that he wasn't quite so seriously "explaining the American online gamer" as he was offering an entertaining presentation on how to improve their games for the market.

#38 Posted by PeasantAbuse (5138 posts) -

Very smug introduction.

#39 Edited by mosdl (3229 posts) -

@JazGalaxy said:

I mean, honestly, listening to the Weekend Confirmed Podcast this today and hearing them talk about the Key system in Borderlands 2 was baffling. Why would anyone want how quickly they can respond to randy pitchfords tweets to affect their gameplay? Why would they want one of the overly powered weapons he's offering?

Except for the fact that the loot the key provides is random and usually useless? Don't judge what you don't understand perhaps?

@WilliamHenry said:

I'll admit I don't know a ton about the education systems in other countries, but I don't recall seeing other countries where teachers are literally not allowed to fail students, no matter how poorly the student has done.

There might be some places that happens but it isn't common at all.

#40 Posted by laserbolts (5331 posts) -

I do agree with him. Especially the bit about gamers blaming the game for their failures. How many threads have I read where some dude accuses a game of being broken or unbalanced because he just sucks at it. Christ that really grinds my gears.

#41 Posted by pw2566ch (480 posts) -

@Fredchuckdave said:

This:

@Icemael said:

Failure doesn't kick in until students reach the age of 17 and begin to apply for colleges and discover that rejection and failure is real and there's a steep impact from that. So American users see failure in a game or app as a problem with that game, not a user error.

Heavily implies that the collegiate/job selection system is flawless, which ironically is a flaw with American logic. The onus is placed on the individual but the system itself is chaotic so no matter how talented the individual there is always a substantial chance for failure (unless they were born in a privileged position); particularly in times of economic stress.

That's kind of the core of his argument so the whole thing is flawed (and potentially offensive) as a result. Yes there are a lot of stupid people out there and people tailor their products to stupidity (hence the redundancy of sequels and shooters), but a simple change to education won't fix the vast number of issues that society has; certainly not before the already present damage runs its full course.

I was reading an article about patent lawsuits and how they've grown out of control (please bare with me here). Someone commented on how it may be due to the fact that there's a higher ratio of lawyers compared to engineers and maybe that's why there's a lack of innovation. Now, I'm an American myself, and am in no way good at understanding the everyday person. However, maybe this is another reason why we don't have innovation in America anymore. The lack of attention and the lack of taking risks. It's like the movie "Idiocracy". We focus on what we want. How we can achieve something faster and easier through internet arguments and lawsuits.

I honestly don't know what to say from here. A lot of people I talk to outside of the internet can't seem to focus with their full attention anymore. It's like I'm watching an E! or TLC reality show unfold right in front of me. I admit I have a short attention span when it comes to certain things, but nothing as important as politics, history, or video games for that matter.

What the fuck happened, America? You used to be cool.

#42 Posted by Demoskinos (15007 posts) -

I think this is a gross generalization. American online gamers cover a wide spread of ages. The typical gamer is starting to skew older as time goes on. Sure, there are a lot of impatient dumb people but there are also a lot of people in the other camp who appreciate games treating them like they are intelligent. And this isn't just limited to "America" I've heard equally dumb brits online being racist, xenophobic or just plain dumb the same that american's can. Sounds like this guy just has a chip on his shoulder.

#43 Edited by casper_ (906 posts) -

if you want to focus on the lowest common denominator in any culture you can wind up making some pretty far-fetched generalizations about the rest of the populace.

#44 Posted by SethPhotopoulos (5301 posts) -

Sigh.

#45 Posted by Giantstalker (1675 posts) -

Neverwinter Nights designer explains the American online gamer.

And fails. This is a load of poorly-justified generalizations generously applied to a sample far too large and diverse for them to have any credibility. A poor showing for Don Daglow, in my view.

#46 Posted by JasonR86 (9741 posts) -

I find it funny that this grumpy old man's post is being discussed on a website run by a bunch of Americans and has a huge American audience. It makes you wonder who the fuck this guy was talking about when we are here in our vacuum doesn't it?

#47 Posted by Feanor (1387 posts) -

We are all human, we all share the same set of genes. America does have a shit ton of dumb people. That's because the US has a shit ton of people living in it. For instance, the United States has about 10x the population of Canada, so we have 10x more dumb people. And that means its 10x easier to pick on the Untied States for being a country full of dumb people.

Is the education system perfect? No. But you get what you put into it. Most of the failure comes from lack of motivation from the student, and in most cases that's the result of being brought up in a broken home.

#48 Posted by gamefreak9 (2369 posts) -

Although I have very little respect for American's in general I think this guy is full of shit. Why are you assuming that advertisement times went down because of attention span? How about it was MORE PROFITABLE TO AIR 2 ADS within 60 seconds?

#49 Posted by Slag (4603 posts) -

I was expecting to be offended, but I think there is some unfortunate truth to what he said. Took some of it way too far though

of course the big mistake he made was assuming that an incredibly diverse country like US would ever act consistently one way.

#50 Posted by JasonR86 (9741 posts) -

@gamefreak9 said:

Although I have very little respect for American's in general I think this guy is full of shit. Why are you assuming that advertisement times went down because of attention span? How about it was MORE PROFITABLE TO AIR 2 ADS within 60 seconds?

Did you really have to add that part?