Can we choose?

  • mod

    Continuing the discussion from Bethesda's game announcements (another BlakeyTweets topic):

    @xaade said:

    If I took an, most convenient choice, path.

    If I wanted to roleplay a specific style, no.

    I tried a no kill, teleported right behind someone that had been standing in the same spot, looking the same way for 30 seconds, and they turned around right before I executed teleport. So I said, eff it and crossbowed him in the face. Once I let go of the choices I wanted to make, and just made the most efficient choices, it was fun. But that means the game doesn't really give you a choice, it just gives you options. Not the same thing.

    Now, @blakeyrat will say, "I can't play ESO as a pure archer". And I'll tell him, "you need to diversify and use all your resources". Then he'll make the same argument I just made. And the argument is justified, because the game advertised choices, not options.

    But there hasn't been a game that really gave you choices, only options. Every game tries to get close to that. But humans always choose the most efficient path. Thus we are incapable of making choices.

    I guess it's not the games fault that they discovered that we don't have free will after all.

    We always choose the most efficient path? Are you sure about that? If that was the case, would Thomas Edison have tried thousands of combinations to invent the first long lasting electric light bulb[1], or would he have chosen efficiency and given up early on in the process?

    When I was in high school and college, I would go rock climbing regularly (kind of hard now with young kids). There were times that I would pick the harder route, even though it went to the exact same place as an easier route – purely for the challenge. Sometimes I'd have to go with the easier route because the harder routes were too busy.

    I think what your anecdote shows is not that humans are incapable of choosing, but that we are prone to give up on a difficult task if the perceived reward does not seem worth the effort. It sounds like the problem with the game you described is that the payoff is only at the end of the game, after picking options where the outcomes are preset with no idea of the full ramifications of each choice. You can screw up your goal at the beginning of the game with a choice that seems to be on the right track, but has an unintended consequence. In order to be able to get the desired outcome, you would need a map of all the available "choices" in the game and their effect on the end result. Essentially, trying to get a specific result from the game is a very high difficulty, and the payout is very small by comparison. This makes it hard to stay motivated, and leads to players resorting to a "most convenient" playing style.

    [1] Despite "common knowledge", Thomas Edison did not invent the first electric light. That distinction can be given to Humphry Davy, an English Scientist, who made a carbon filament glow when he attached it to a battery in 1800. This style of light is called an electric arc. English physicist Sir Joseph Wilson Swan improved on this slightly in 1860 using carbon paper filaments, however they did not have long life. Edison invented the first long lasting electric light in 1879: a carbon filament in an oxygen-free bulb which lasted for about 40 hours. He later improved the design to last over 1500 hours.

  • @abarker said:

    There were times that I would pick the harder route, even though it went to the exact same place as an easier route – purely for the challenge.

    It provided the most efficient path to your desire for a challenge.


    But really, you're body produced a desire, and you mechanically found the most efficient path to that desire.

    Is that free will? I dunno'

  • People tend to act in their perceived self-interest, which I think can explain all the examples here.

  • Then, do you choose your self-interests?

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