Recently came across this post on the site Electron Dance. It makes reference to a lecture that Jonathan Blow (creator of Braid) made, in which it was argued that the relationship between game designers and game players may be becoming exploitative:
Today, due to the way the Internet is widely used, and because game designers are becoming more serious about certain aspects of their craft, the iteration time of this game design optimization process (testing out games on players) is shorter than ever before: designers can observe their players much more thoroughly, and more quickly, than they ever have in the past. At some point a quantitative change becomes a qualitative one: the result of all this competency may be heavily destructive. Some aspects of the current notion of “good game design” may in fact be very bad, or at least indefensible, from an ethical standpoint. Today’s “better” video games spend a great deal of effort to undermine defenses that took you tens of millennia to evolve. They tend to be successful at this. As designers keep evolving their craft and gain greater analytical power, what will happen?
An example of the exploitative relationship that may be developing between designers and players cited by Electron Dance from Blow’s lecture is that of the modern RPG:
The idea of RPGs being about progress, for example, is a lie; it essentially auto-balances so you’re working out a flat difficulty curve. Evolution, Blow said, gave fun and boredom a purpose, but game designers were abusing that.
Considering the amount of grinding I’ve been doing recently in Pokemon Diamond for the purpose of defeating the Elite Four (because I lazily cruised through the game with an Alakazam), this idea gave me some pause for thought.