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Penny Arcade - Comic - The Aboxolypse

DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
edited May 2019 in The Penny Arcade Hub

imagePenny Arcade - Comic - The Aboxolypse

Videogaming-related online strip by Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins. Includes news and commentary.

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    GrendusGrendus Registered User regular
    Ahh, the dad-ification of media has reached Penny Arcade. Well, it reached PA about 10 years ago, but still. Always fun to watch people's opinions change as they have kids of their own and realize how hard it is to protect the suicidal little bastards.

    That said, I wholeheartedly agree with this comic though. The "you should be a parent and control what your kid gets into" argument starts to break down when almost every game advertised to kids these days has lootbox mechanics baked into it somewhere. At a certain point you've basically gone Amish to keep your kids from blowing their allowance on "Premium Currency". Even just forcing all games with gambling mechanics (defined as the ability to trade real world money, or a secondary currency that can be bought indirectly with real world money, for a chance at an in-game item) to be flagged as such would go a long way as it would let parents disable all of those for their kids (or themselves, in the case of gambling addicts) in a single stroke.

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    Richard DainRichard Dain Registered User new member
    This has been a long time coming, anyway. The moment they started calling us "consumers" instead of "customers", we should have said stop.

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    ironzergironzerg Registered User regular
    Grendus wrote: »
    At a certain point you've basically gone Amish to keep your kids from blowing their allowance on "Premium Currency". Even just forcing all games with gambling mechanics (defined as the ability to trade real world money, or a secondary currency that can be bought indirectly with real world money, for a chance at an in-game item) to be flagged as such would go a long way as it would let parents disable all of those for their kids (or themselves, in the case of gambling addicts) in a single stroke.

    Well, to be fair, think back to your days as a kid. I "blew" a ton of my allowance on trading cards, "collectables", video games, and popping quarters arcade. But I wouldn't be the guy I am today had my parents restricted me from spending my allowance on the stuff I wanted to, even if they thought it was a dumb waste of money. So (and as a dad with three boys), I feel like there is a lot of parenting that has to go on here. You have to teach you kids some of this stuff...regulation isn't going to stop them from making poor decisions.

    All that being said, I agree 100% that games with loot boxes and microtransactions should be clearly marked, and they should all have the option to disable or hide microstransaction content. I also know a few adults who would greatly benefit from these options as well. But going back to the kids thing, it's not so much the urge to gamble as it is very poor impulse control, as well as a distorted sense of value. The adults I know who over-indulge in lootboxes, magical keys, and fake sparkle ponies also have a really bad sense of value. They tend to equate in-game costs with real world value, even though none of these items have any value.

    It's the idea that they can "invest" $1 for a chance to "win" an item that (via obfuscated in game value exchanges) is "worth" $500...when it's worth exactly $0. But that's the other sinister side of this that I also think erodes enjoyment people get from video games. When your leisure activity starts to become measured in how many "dollars" per hour you're "earning" based on the inability to correctly distinguish between fake game value and the real world, it destroys your ability to just enjoy playing video games.

    That's why, going full circle, we as parents have to instill those values in our kids so they can understand what is real, and what is fake. I want my boys to grow up understanding what those loot boxes or whatever evolves out of them really are. I'm not going to leave that up to the government or the game companies to handle.

    These things aren't going away. Just like drugs, alcohol, sex, cigarettes, or any other number of "vices", education is the best armor you can wrap you children in.

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    NamrokNamrok Registered User regular
    I desperately want to say things were better when I was a kid gaming in the 90's. In terms of bang for the buck and complete experiences, it seems like the high water mark.

    Something horribly happened around Diablo, when the addictiveness of the loot pinata was discovered. And nothing against Diablo in saying that. At least the first two. But that near as I can tell began the Skinner Boxification of gaming, and now we're basically in Gatcha Hell where games have weaponized all the addictiveness of gambling, with none of the possible rewards.

    Pretty sure when/if my daughter starts gaming, it will be on an airgapped machine with nothing but retro games. And she can have her friends over and look at each other's screens like god intended.

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    SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    Namrok wrote: »
    I desperately want to say things were better when I was a kid gaming in the 90's. In terms of bang for the buck and complete experiences, it seems like the high water mark.

    Something horribly happened around Diablo, when the addictiveness of the loot pinata was discovered. And nothing against Diablo in saying that. At least the first two. But that near as I can tell began the Skinner Boxification of gaming, and now we're basically in Gatcha Hell where games have weaponized all the addictiveness of gambling, with none of the possible rewards.

    Pretty sure when/if my daughter starts gaming, it will be on an airgapped machine with nothing but retro games. And she can have her friends over and look at each other's screens like god intended.

    For the various sins of Diablo III (frankly, Diablo II was also guilty of a few different things too), "casinos in your home for children" isn't one of them. Even the Real Money Auction House, mistake that it was, went some way to undermine the concept by adding a venue for you to spend real money on specific things--taking gambling out of it as much as it possible could be.

    That being said, all the Diablo games are pretty guilty of the whole "Keep trying for the best of the random outcomes," as the fundamental looter mechanic.

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    ironzergironzerg Registered User regular
    Namrok wrote: »
    Pretty sure when/if my daughter starts gaming, it will be on an airgapped machine with nothing but retro games. And she can have her friends over and look at each other's screens like god intended.

    I'm guessing this is a bit of hyperbole, but as a parent, you owe it to your budding gamer kid to try harder.

    There's countless games out there for kids (and adults) to play that don't rely on lockboxes, skinner boxes, or other abusive mechanics. Hell, you can always fall back on Nintendo...I bought my boys a Switch 3 months ago, and they love it. Plenty of games for the guys to dig into. In addition, my two oldest have their own Steam accounts, and I do my best to curate a library of games that they can enjoy. And my youngest (started at 3, now 4) has been cranking away with some serious Minecraft on his tablet.

    I've shown my kids a bit of retro gaming. I fired up Super Mario 3 and Legend of Zelda on an emulator, and they were less than impressed. But they've really enjoyed Mario on the Switch, and I intend to re-expose them to Zelda when the remaster of Link's Awakening shows up later this summer.

    Anyway, don't fall into the trap of being that parent that every kid resented when they were young because you're too cynical or afraid of dealing with what's out there in the virtual world. Educate your kids, set and example, and help them grow up to be intelligent and responsible gamers.

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    flamebroiledchickenflamebroiledchicken Registered User regular
    Until they start school and interacting with other children, kids will believe basically anything you tell them. If you want them to believe that Super Mario is the only video game that exists, that's not actually that hard. When I was a kid, all I had was a PC at home, consoles were out of the question ("You can play games on the computer, why do you need a different box just for games?" was the logic), so a stack of shareware floppies was basically the entire gaming universe as far as I knew.

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    Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User, Moderator mod
    ironzerg wrote: »
    Well, to be fair, think back to your days as a kid. I "blew" a ton of my allowance on trading cards, "collectables", video games, and popping quarters arcade. But I wouldn't be the guy I am today had my parents restricted me from spending my allowance on the stuff I wanted to, even if they thought it was a dumb waste of money. So (and as a dad with three boys), I feel like there is a lot of parenting that has to go on here. You have to teach you kids some of this stuff...regulation isn't going to stop them from making poor decisions.
    Man, I wish I had all the money back from all the stupid shit that I bought before the age of 18. Remember when all of the comic books and kid's magazines had catalogs of dumb stuff you could buy on a page of ads? Although if I had taken better care of the physical toys, maybe they would have sold on eBay today for a profit (or, at least, beat inflation).

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    rahkeesh2000rahkeesh2000 Registered User regular
    I would just like to hear a defense of why casinos should be regulated/taxed and lootboxes shouldn't be in exactly the same way. Even this proposed law is treating them as a completely different category.

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    darkmayodarkmayo Registered User regular
    Kids-schmids, its predatory and a shitty business practice. It was one thing where it was just the skinner box making us lose our time but once it was introducing "premium currency" and the whole loot box gambling mechanics then you get into even more shady territory. If I want to spend money on a game and I do, let me buy the fancy cosmetic item I want (Prices of some of those cosmetics being absurd is another thing...)

    Switch SW-6182-1526-0041
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    StericaSterica Yes Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited May 2019
    The creepy thing is that toy manufacturers are catching on. Half the toy aisle at my local Best Buy are populated with just real-world loot boxes. Right down to the chance for an ultra-rare toy in the box.

    You can’t just buy a Mario keychain, you have to keeping buying blind bags until you get him. It’s not a new concept, but I feel like video games have encouraged toy makers to push it harder.

    Sterica on
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    Steel AngelSteel Angel Registered User regular
    Namrok wrote: »
    I desperately want to say things were better when I was a kid gaming in the 90's. In terms of bang for the buck and complete experiences, it seems like the high water mark.

    Something horribly happened around Diablo, when the addictiveness of the loot pinata was discovered. And nothing against Diablo in saying that. At least the first two. But that near as I can tell began the Skinner Boxification of gaming, and now we're basically in Gatcha Hell where games have weaponized all the addictiveness of gambling, with none of the possible rewards.

    Pretty sure when/if my daughter starts gaming, it will be on an airgapped machine with nothing but retro games. And she can have her friends over and look at each other's screens like god intended.

    For video games, sure. For all games I remind you of Pogs and the explosion of CCG games after Magic took off.

    Big Dookie wrote: »
    I found that tilting it doesn't work very well, and once I started jerking it, I got much better results.

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    Knight_Knight_ Dead Dead Dead Registered User regular
    Sterica wrote: »
    The creepy thing is that toy manufacturers are catching on. Half the toy aisle at my local Best Buy are populated with just real-world loot boxes. Right down to the chance for an ultra-rare toy in the box.

    You can’t just buy a Mario keychain, you have to keeping buying blind bags until you get him. It’s not a new concept, but I feel like video games have encouraged toy makers to push it harder.

    blind boxes where you can just buy the display box and you get all of them are fine, but chase items suck butt.

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    TofystedethTofystedeth Registered User regular
    darkmayo wrote: »
    Kids-schmids, its predatory and a shitty business practice. It was one thing where it was just the skinner box making us lose our time but once it was introducing "premium currency" and the whole loot box gambling mechanics then you get into even more shady territory. If I want to spend money on a game and I do, let me buy the fancy cosmetic item I want (Prices of some of those cosmetics being absurd is another thing...)

    Hopefully the "think of the kids" angle will serve as foot in the door for "also think of the adults with addictive personalities these companies are squeezing tens of thousands of dollars from. "

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    Tokata0Tokata0 Registered User new member
    It is so sad that microtransactions even reach boardgames nowdays. Descent 2nd edition as an example - if you just want all the expansions you are in with 250€, but if you buy the hero and monster / lieutanant packs, wich add only figures no levels, you go up to 1000€ for the entire set.

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    jungleroomxjungleroomx It's never too many graves, it's always not enough shovels Registered User regular
    Sterica wrote: »
    The creepy thing is that toy manufacturers are catching on. Half the toy aisle at my local Best Buy are populated with just real-world loot boxes. Right down to the chance for an ultra-rare toy in the box.

    You can’t just buy a Mario keychain, you have to keeping buying blind bags until you get him. It’s not a new concept, but I feel like video games have encouraged toy makers to push it harder.

    Isn't that just them removing the toys from the machine?

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    Abbe.FariaAbbe.Faria Registered User regular
    It's been clear to me that the US market is trying rather desperately to emulate the Asian market but is missing the point or several key elements along the way. Number one is the fact the american market is not used to this kind of business model in the same way as japan is, sure we have gambling but not along the avenues being pushed by these companies or to the degree their pushing. Number two "Gacha" or games that have a paid for element that gives stuff based on RNG is actually regulated and under the oversight of a gambling commission (at least in japan) so that players are given a fair enough chance in rolling the dice within these games, so far the american market doesn't have that which we've seen has had EA going to town behind the scenes fluffing the odds in order to "encourage" more buy in and hell even patenting the damn process, that sort of thing would have been given a long hard look across the pacific. Number three in closing, is a fundamental misunderstanding that to part a customer from their money they need to enjoy themselves, walk into a nice casino even if your not a big fan tell me you take one look around and not think that on some level it's not nice with flashing lights, sounds, clean and rich decor...it's developed, it's been refined to be attractive and draw you in...now look at certain triple A games, a lot of their models and activities amount to having one blackjack table in the back, what I'm saying is you still need a fully developed game and experience in order to draw someone into sitting in front of your table/slot machine.

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    MarcinMNMarcinMN Registered User regular
    edited May 2019
    Sterica wrote: »
    The creepy thing is that toy manufacturers are catching on. Half the toy aisle at my local Best Buy are populated with just real-world loot boxes. Right down to the chance for an ultra-rare toy in the box.

    You can’t just buy a Mario keychain, you have to keeping buying blind bags until you get him. It’s not a new concept, but I feel like video games have encouraged toy makers to push it harder.

    Isn't that just them removing the toys from the machine?

    6oaa141r3epg.png

    And let's not forget the various kinds of collectible cards that there have been over the last several decades. You never knew what you were going to get in that pack of baseball cards, for example. (Although when I was a kid I was big on the collectible cards for Return of the Jedi.)

    MarcinMN on
    "It's just as I've always said. We are being digested by an amoral universe."

    -Tycho Brahe
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    SolventSolvent Econ-artist กรุงเทพมหานครRegistered User regular
    Abbe.Faria wrote: »
    Number three in closing, is a fundamental misunderstanding that to part a customer from their money they need to enjoy themselves, walk into a nice casino even if your not a big fan tell me you take one look around and not think that on some level it's not nice with flashing lights, sounds, clean and rich decor...it's developed, it's been refined to be attractive and draw you in...
    Someone's not been to the pokie rooms in Australian pubs.

    There are mechanisms in human behaviour that gambling companies can exploit to rip money out of vulnerable people. Yeah, it can happen to most people, but some are more susceptible than others. Also, companies have become way better at it in the last 20 years, even if this kinda thing has always been around in some form.

    It's fucking reprehensible and it should be kept away from children.

    I know this phrasing makes me sound like a moraliser but I really do think this is different to those slippery slope "guns in media" or "somebody think of the children" arguments of the past.

    I don't know where he got the scorpions, or how he got them into my mattress.

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    DjiemDjiem Registered User regular
    edited May 2019
    Solvent wrote: »
    I know this phrasing makes me sound like a moraliser but I really do think this is different to those slippery slope "guns in media" or "somebody think of the children" arguments of the past.

    It actually is different. There are exploitative psychological tactics in place here, proven to work on most people, and children are effectively more vulnerable to it than the average adult. There's a reason for the law in Canada (or in Quebec at least) that makes it illegal for advertisements to address *directly* to kids.

    Djiem on
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    Abbe.FariaAbbe.Faria Registered User regular
    Solvent wrote: »
    Abbe.Faria wrote: »
    Number three in closing, is a fundamental misunderstanding that to part a customer from their money they need to enjoy themselves, walk into a nice casino even if your not a big fan tell me you take one look around and not think that on some level it's not nice with flashing lights, sounds, clean and rich decor...it's developed, it's been refined to be attractive and draw you in...
    Someone's not been to the pokie rooms in Australian pubs.

    Let me amend that then more "full service" casino's. Sure there are pubs and dives that have one form of gambling and nothing else but if your going to slap a casino onto a triple A game or property then the point is to not half ass it like some backroom poker joint. If anything players like us are more likely to put money in if we see effort being put into something and it looks good or at least the threshold of complaint will be lower (since some of us will complain no matter what really).

    Also not treating us like we're stupid and can't tell you rushed something out the door, or only put in half the effort cause most of us have been around long enough to be able to tell the difference.

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    RatherDashing89RatherDashing89 Registered User regular
    AAA publishers have realized that the gaming public at large just wants new games in the series' they like. They don't know indie and AA games exist, or if they do they believe the reputation that indie games are all weird, 8bit, or sappy. So you can come out with an Assassin's Creed that is totally broken and it will still sell because it's new.

    Then once someone has bought the game they feel like they have to play it to justify the expense, no matter how grindy it is. Then you spend money to try and make it fun.

    To me it's like how many people go to Walmart because they are convinced it's the cheapest and most convenient place to get groceries when in most cities, it's not.

    Sure, you have your Overwatches which would be the equivalent of a big fancy casino which works really hard to give you a good time so you spend your money. But then you also have the broken and half-baked games that use the gambling itself to keep you interested. Have you ever seen the rows of old people staring dead eyed at the slot machines? Are they enjoying themselves? A lot of these "games" which are basically just a vehicle for gambling are more like the equivalent of gas station scratch-offs.

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