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The stemming…

Upon browsing the forums of Guru I noticed a trending of negative topics. While this is normal one to two weeks previous to the launch of a game, I thought it might be fun to explore why this happens and how we can learn from it in the future, not only for the release of a game but in game as well.

After reading these topics I decided to Google “Why negative emotions are stronger than positive emotions” and stumbled on to a very informative article on the study of negative versus positive emotion. The study was based on money but can be attributed to many things in life. For our purposes we will use this article to break down why gamers tend to be negative as opposed to positive. While this is not a proven statement I would like to explore the reason it could be proven instead of trying to disprove it, in an attempt to reverse engineer the issue.

The argument…

It seems that the brain recognizes positive and negative emotion in different hemispheres and that this may hold a key to understanding why negative emotion is stronger than positive emotion. In gaming we would probably call the ones that are constantly spreading negative threads about a certain profession or game feature as a “QQ’er” and would dismiss them. The other side (the “QQ’er”) may only be working on instinct that gaming has instilled in us through the progression of learning or otherwise known as evolution.

In the article linked above I would like to quote a paragraph:

“As with many other quirks of the human psyche, there may be an evolutionary basis for this. Those who are “more attuned to bad things would have been more likely to survive threats and, consequently, would have increased the probability of passing along their genes,” the article states. “Survival requires urgent attention to possible bad outcomes but less urgent with regard to good ones.”

Now while I understand that they are speaking of long term genetics, I would like to point out that we live many lives in a virtual world and as such must evolve much quicker to deal with the ever changing hostile world that we perceive. This not only teaches us to evolve quickly but also explains the statement below.

“Survival requires urgent attention to possible bad outcomes but less urgent with regard to good ones.”

This can easily be explained as we are in a constant struggle to survive as gamers in general but also in Tyria alone. Regardless of PvE or PvP oriented play we tend to see the world as a hostile and very unforgiving negative place. This is why we don’t play games called “Happy cats with rainbows Online”. Our Positive runs hand and hand with our negative. There is a 50/50 chance that we will experience positive or negative feelings depending on any given moment or series of moments in a single match of PvP or event in Tyria.

While the outcome could be a win, it will easily be overcome if the enemy has found a way to end our success regardless of content type, the emotion is the same. To support this we will use a match of PvP, where I am playing my Thief against a particularly nasty Warrior with the ability to crush me in an instant. If I win a one on one situation with this Warrior I feel as though I have won, and this is undeniably a positive emotion. On the other hand if I lose a one on one situation with the Warrior I will feel an unusually strong and admittedly negative emotion towards the player who has ended my success.

With this said, no-one will ever win 100% of their encounters (PvE or PvP) and will feel this negative emotion. The difference in our negative emotion as gamers is that somewhere in that jumble of brain cells, we start calculating our way to success again. When this success is unachievable we begin to dwell on the fact and  it begins to amplify the negative emotions. On the other hand if we were to have success 100% of the time it would eventually become boring and therefore change the emotion to a negative as well. This creates a quandary that spills over into the forums of Guru as of late.

If a certain profession feels the sting of the “Nerf Bat” and can no longer achieve success they become more likely to spread the information in a negative manor and this allows others an avenue to vent frustration (negative emotion) which then catches like wild fire and we have a full blown “QQ” session. The circle is now completed by the fact that the game developers constantly change the variables of the game to make sure that one profession is not seeing an over abundance of success while another is in an unachievable state.

The above supports the theory that we constantly evolve in game which supports the theory that negative emotions are the reason we are evolving. While I don’t like to dwell on the negative, I am starting to understand that “QQ” is a natural part of gaming and without it evolution would be impossible.

The part that concerns me about this can be found in other quotes from the article and can be seen below.

“Negative emotions generally involve more thinking, and the information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones, Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant events — and use stronger words to describe them — than happy ones. “

As well as,

“Bad emotions and bad feedback have more impact than good ones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to dis confirmation than good ones.”

This says to me that the masses of a forum such as Guru are more susceptible to being perceived as negative, when in fact it just means that negative emotions linger longer and are more easily accepted by others who have similar feelings towards a particular topic.

To be continued…