It seems I mispoke last week when I said to “stay tuned as I preview another card”. What I meant to say was “cards”. Yes, that would be plural, meaning more than one. Yes, they are below. Feel free to scroll and stare, but if you’re here for a psychology lesson and how the card’s came to be, read on, it may make for interesting conversation at work, school, or wherever you prefer mingling.
What is Intuitive Learning?
It’s been called a great many things, this just happens to be what I refer to “it” as. Some call it conveyance, others call it clever design, but intuitive learning is the most accurate description I could come up with. The actual psychological term would be operant conditioning, originally researched heavily by B.F. Skinner in the 1930s. Most people consider operant conditioning a bit cold of a term, but it is an accurate description to intuitive learning as well.
Intuitive learning is a psychological practice that teaches somebody an action or a set of actions without them realizing they are being taught. You are being pushed into a direction by receiving rewards afterwards. In Skinner’s case, he was rewarding the animals with food, a simple, yet powerful form of reward. In modern video games, such as the Call of Duty style first person shooter, you have pop ups declaring how many points you earned for a kill, achievements, rankings at the end of a match, or even something as simple as a game ending. For all of my examples of modern gaming hereafter, I will be frequently referring to FPS style games.
Something that modern games have completely lost sight of is the original intention of intuitive learning. Instead of allowing a player to figure a problem out for themselves, the game flashes a message in front of your face, declaring “this is how you move”, “this is how you shoot”, or “duck by pressing (blank)”. This ensures a fool-proof formula that every player can follow. It shores up a possibly steep learning curve, making it easier to learn, putting the brunt of experience in the map memorization category, which plays even more into psychology.
The games of yesteryear, referred to as “old school games”, didn’t have the luxury of these pop up messages. I remembered playing a few games and being completely stumped on a part, only to thumb through the manual, and find out there was an attack or move I had no clue about. This is evidence that the game was doing poorly at teaching me the subtle nuances of play within.
The best example of intuitive learning in old school games is the Mega Man series. Kudos to any who have watched Egoraptor’s Sequelitis series regarding this. It isn’t for young children, but I suggest watching it to get a firm grasp on exactly what I’m about to delve into. More specifically, Mega Man X showcases intuitive learning at its best.
Instead of flashing words directly in your face, the game initially drops you into an intro stage, who’s goal is to teach you the basics of the game, but even before you get there, the game has already shown you, via the title screen, that Mega Man is a game of shooting, visually shown by X shooting his buster at your menu selection. Once the intro stage starts, you quickly realize that the game doesn’t want you to run to the left, because the screen doesn’t move. Immediately, you learn that running right lets the game proceed, rewarding you with the obvious “more gameplay” tactic. The first enemy? A giant spiked wheel. If you’re completely lost, you’ll run all the way back, and get hit by the wheel, showing you taking 2 bars of damage. This shows that you can take a great deal of hits before you die, since you have around 16 to start. I won’t steal all of the video’s thunder, but this is a subtle use of intuitive learning in a game, one that many board games can learn from.
How does this apply to Resident Evil?
There is a huge gulf between a video game and a board game. As a board game, we can get away with a larger degree of text, because eventually your brain becomes accustomed to the cards, memorizing it and storing the information for later use. What does this mean for RE? It means we can be more liberal with putting text on cards, but not go overboard.
Throughout all of the demo games I have done, I noticed new players have issues with performing the most basic of actions required to win the game: Trashing cards, most notably, the basic 10 that you start with. Kudos to you if you manage to win a game while holding on to these 10 cards, but the intent of the game was not to do so. Out of the individual 6, the only card whose intention remains the same is the healing item, but what about the Ammunition?
Seeing as how players begin the game with the 10 ammo cards, we want players to get rid of them. We had 3 goals in mind with the 10 ammo card: allow newer players to grasp the intent and necessity to trash the card, speed up the game, and to reward the player who follows the intent. This is the simplest way to represent all 3 goals, while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the original ammo x10 card design intentions.
Step 2 is the ammo x20 card. Ammo x20 is viewed by the majority of players as a stepping stone to the end game, the ammo x30. Unless you’re going for a pistol or knife rush with the bonus damage actions, turning the ammo x20 into an ammo x30 is your ultimate goal. So, the obvious is this:
Although I find it lazy to put the text “can only be applied once per turn”, this was the simplest expression of intuitive design for this card. This tells newer players “hey, I’m good, but you want me to be ammo x30, because that’s even better”, it tells veterans “hurry up and explore the mansion so you can make me better!”, and it gets the point across to everyone as to what this card’s design intent is, allowing newer players to intuitively grasp the concept.
Have you ever hated being just 10 money or 10 ammo short of getting exactly what you want? I have seen this type of frustration, time and time again on everyone’s faces, old players and new. That’s an easily solved issue during the late game.
Now player’s can vastly accelerate their late game by getting the ammo and money they need to finish their perfect deck. This also teaches new players that you don’t need to buy all of the ammo cards to win, as having more than 5 is a severe detriment to you, and you won’t be able to explore otherwise. Veterans will recognize this card’s ability to get them what they need at an even quicker pace.
Stay tuned next week as we continue our RE5 previews with a fresh, clean blade….