Context, Challenge and Catharsis

Yahtzee Croshaw

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Context, Challenge and Catharsis

Yahtzee takes a look at where the Dead Rising series gets things right and where it screws up horribly.

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Evonisia

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Jun 24, 2013
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This basically speaks a lot of my opinion of Dead Rising 3. It is still fun (in the whole slaughtering sense) but it isn't as good as Dead Rising 2 because it lacks challenge. I still debate on whether 2 or 3's weapon system is better (in my playthrough I rarely visited safe houses) but 2 did have a very satisfying method. 3 basically has the same issue Off The Record did in terms of difficulty and slaughter.

I'm curious to what you thought of Dead Rising 1 now, seeing as the 'hard' part of that game was omnipresent and was designed for people who must do everything perfect in order to survive (also known as Dark Souls players).
 

castlewise

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Jul 18, 2010
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Catharsis seems like its also the "skinner box" leg of the stool. For example a game like Animal Crossing seems like its basically all Catharsis. I suppose the challenge portion would just be the amount of time you need to grind fish to get 100%.
 

Neurotic Void Melody

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This is definately the case, you have to add context (another C word!!) and drip feed us fun so we're always hungry for more and willing to work for it. Otherwise we become nothing more than unappreciative spoilt rich kids, too used to cake for dinner and on the diabetic fence.
It also works the same for certain revenge movies where the longer they build up the twat-level of all the other character's actions towards the protagonist, such as in Carrie or to the extreme in Dogville, the more satisfying the revenge when it finally happens. The actions are not meaningless deaths etc just to please the braindead but something emotional and relatable on dark levels
 

craddoke

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castlewise said:
Catharsis seems like its also the "skinner box" leg of the stool.
I think these are related concepts, but not the same thing. A skinner box doles out small doses of reward at a regular interval to create what is basically an addiction -- it's neither satisfying nor frustrating enough to cause the average player to abandon the experience. Catharsis done right has a finality to it; you don't need to redo/reread/re-watch the experience to feel complete.
 

Neurotic Void Melody

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Anyways nothing compares to the endless joy and company of owning a toy dead cat. Even if its mother is still stalking you from the bushes
 

knox140

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The milking stool model makes sense, although I would argue that catharsis isn't needed as much to make a game a good game, whereas gratification is. Challenge and context are much more important. For example, in a stealth game like Dishonored or Thief, while going around stabbing/shooting arrows at everyone is fun, it is generally something I only do when I get frustrated at not being able to get past a particular point without being seen. I'd much rather have the GRATIFICATION of being able to pull off a mission without any detections. Gratification and catharsis aren't synonyms, and I think the former works better here.
 

Xman490

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May 29, 2010
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It's true that this game lacks Challenge like a toilet lacks water, but Challenge doesn't necessarily have to come from a game to give meaning to Catharsis. Imagine working at customer service or some other job centered around satisfying clients, or being a student. Sometimes, clients or class topics can take hours to settle through satisfying or understanding, respectively. Spending hours desperately trying to solve a problem builds tension that Cathartic games like Dead Rising 3 or Saints Row IV are perfect for releasing, however routine they may be. (Saints Row especially with this formula: stand in an intersection, shoot police simulations and aliens, freeze down hovering aliens, fight monstrous alien, rinse, repeat)
castlewise said:
Catharsis seems like its also the "skinner box" leg of the stool. For example a game like Animal Crossing seems like its basically all Catharsis. I suppose the challenge portion would just be the amount of time you need to grind fish to get 100%.
Animal Crossing has some kind of Context, even though it is basically like that of a young child's cartoon show.
 

Mahoshonen

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knox140 said:
The milking stool model makes sense, although I would argue that catharsis isn't needed as much to make a game a good game, whereas gratification is. Challenge and context are much more important. For example, in a stealth game like Dishonored or Thief, while going around stabbing/shooting arrows at everyone is fun, it is generally something I only do when I get frustrated at not being able to get past a particular point without being seen. I'd much rather have the GRATIFICATION of being able to pull off a mission without any detections. Gratification and catharsis aren't synonyms, and I think the former works better here.
If I remember the thread where Yahtzee first introduced the idea of gratification, there was confusion as to why can't gratification come from the context or challenge a game provides. The term catharsis, on the other hand, clarifies that its the gratification completely separate from beating a challenge or becoming immersed in the context. It's the difference between, for example two otherwise identical shooters in which one game has guns that make uninterested pewpewpew noises when fired while the other has guns with sound effects that give the guns a sense of impact.
 

Lono Shrugged

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The best example of what I think he is going for that comes to mind is when you get the super gravity gun at the end of Half Life 2. The whole game you are outnumbered, outgunned and generally on the run. They give you this super weapon, a ton of health and throw a million soldiers at you to mow through. I think it's only satisfying because of that frustration.

A lot of games pull this off very well too. Far Cry: Blood Dragon had the KillStar that had you mowing down waves of baddies. Soul Reaver 2 had you killing your evil human brothers with the soul reaver sword and Gunpoint had you having enough money to buy the door kicker upgrade to name a few favorites. It's usually best at the climax of a game where you fight back after a string of defeats and obstacles. None of those things would be fun without the challenge or the context. Striking back at someone who has been annoying you and harrying you for ages is hugely satisfying. In Bioshock Infinite, finally taking out the Songbird was a moment of pure fist pumping triumph, because that bastard was on your ass through the whole well written and well done story. And in Limbo finally killing that fucking spider was better than sex on a roller coaster. It's what games are best at, Making you feel empowered and in control. But first, you have to remove that control
 

UNHchabo

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Lono Shrugged said:
The best example of what I think he is going for that comes to mind is when you get the super gravity gun at the end of Half Life 2. The whole game you are outnumbered, outgunned and generally on the run. They give you this super weapon, a ton of health and throw a million soldiers at you to mow through. I think it's only satisfying because of that frustration.

A lot of games pull this off very well too. Far Cry: Blood Dragon had the KillStar that had you mowing down waves of baddies. Soul Reaver 2 had you killing your evil human brothers with the soul reaver sword and Gunpoint had you having enough money to buy the door kicker upgrade to name a few favorites. It's usually best at the climax of a game where you fight back after a string of defeats and obstacles. None of those things would be fun without the challenge or the context. Striking back at someone who has been annoying you and harrying you for ages is hugely satisfying. In Bioshock Infinite, finally taking out the Songbird was a moment of pure fist pumping triumph, because that bastard was on your ass through the whole well written and well done story. And in Limbo finally killing that fucking spider was better than sex on a roller coaster. It's what games are best at, Making you feel empowered and in control. But first, you have to remove that control
Going back to the 8-bit and 16-bit eras, tons of games had this. They'd occasionally give you a limited-time or limited-use superweapon, then it's back to your normal vulnerability. Mario's Super Star is probably the most prominent example, but every bullet-hell shooter I've played has it too.
 

Kenjitsuka

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"So I feel more positive about Dead Rising 2 because it was manageably hard. It was a game of both challenge and catharsis."

Indeed, the best moments were when you'd FINALLY smash that fucking psychopath's head in with a rusty pipe, BECAUSE he'd knifed you a billion times before. It was crappy that you could only do that after restarting at about level 5-10, depending on skill, and that they didn't tell you this.

But, after that it was die a few times, learn your lessons and dish out that deliciously cold revenge!
Ohhhh yeah!!!
 

Thanatos2k

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Sounds like the summary is:

Dead Rising 3 is fun for a little bit, then boring forever after.
 

Dastardly

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Yahtzee Croshaw said:
Context, Challenge and Catharsis

Yahtzee takes a look at where the Dead Rising series gets things right and where it screws up horribly.

Read Full Article
It's something like believing the purpose of a handjob is the orgasm, so you just hand your customer a jar of his own spunk and think you've done him a favor.
 

Psychobabble

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Aug 3, 2013
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Dastardly said:
Yahtzee Croshaw said:
Context, Challenge and Catharsis

Yahtzee takes a look at where the Dead Rising series gets things right and where it screws up horribly.

Read Full Article
It's something like believing the purpose of a handjob is the orgasm, so you just hand your customer a jar of his own spunk and think you've done him a favor.
LOL! Well that beats (no pun intended) my analogy all to hell. I was going to describe what a lot of game makers are currently doing as building a roller coaster and forgetting to put in the peaks and valleys, turning what should be a thrill ride into a rather dull train journey that goes nowhere. But hey, a comparison of gaming to wanking is so much more in tune with the instant gratification element as to be brilliant.
 

Evonisia

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Jun 24, 2013
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Kenjitsuka said:
"So I feel more positive about Dead Rising 2 because it was manageably hard. It was a game of both challenge and catharsis."

Indeed, the best moments were when you'd FINALLY smash that fucking psychopath's head in with a rusty pipe, BECAUSE he'd knifed you a billion times before. It was crappy that you could only do that after restarting at about level 5-10, depending on skill, and that they didn't tell you this.

But, after that it was die a few times, learn your lessons and dish out that deliciously cold revenge!
Ohhhh yeah!!!
Dead Rising 2 was a hell of a lot more entertaining when you beat the pyschopath without reloading as well. When I killed the bathroom C.U.R.E member at level 6 I wept tears of joy between the tears of blood from playing through it for an hour.
 

DjinnFor

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Yahtzee Croshaw said:
Which made me go back and remember all the times the game had seemed a bit meh as I'd played, even while I was mincing up the walking dead with fiery dragon costumes. Something was getting in the way of the catharsis factor, which seemed odd, because there was so little else besides the catharsis factor. Perhaps, I realized, the three-leg model was due for a bit of revision. A qualification needs to be added: namely that catharsis needs to be working alongside something else to work.
The analogy works fine. Who ever heard of a one-legged stool? Context with no challenge or catharsis isn't a game. And challenge without context or catharsis isn't a game either. Nor is a two-legged stool a game; context and catharsis is just an ordinary, non-interactive narrative. Context and challenge with no catharsis is boring. Catharsis and challenge is... is it even accurate to call it an experience when there is no context to anything?

A three-legged stool with one or two weak legs works okay though, as you pointed out. Better if one or two of the legs are just there to support the others and don't really impress the user, as long as they're functional and not weak.
 

IrisNetwork

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No matter what sandbox we're in, Dead Rising, Prototype, Skyrim, Just Cause etc. Killing stuff is fun but if its the same thing over & over its gonna get old fast. We'd learn how to counter the challenge and be left waiting for a real challenge that never arrives.
 

Vale

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And that is why I always keep coming back to masturbate to catharse all over immerse myself in Call of Pripyat.
Everything is tuned for a world that would love to murder the fuck out of you, but inadvertently ends up providing better and better weapons and equipment. With which you can murder it the fuck back.
And then you meet your first chimera in the middle of the night and you curl up and cry forever
 

ImmortalDrifter

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To say Dead Rising 2 was hard is kind of laughable. I know full well I sound like one of those insufferable faggots who claim to be better than everyone else, but hear me out.

Rescuing survivors in Dead Rising 2 was probably the biggest objective. All of the plot missions were very short, with a lot of time in between to do one of two things: Fuck around or Rescue survivors. Until you hit level 50, rescuing survivors is the obvious choice, as it gives you lots of PP, combo cards, and a chance to go back to Royal Flush. Going back to Royal Flush is what makes the game easy. Every time you go back to the safe house you have the opportunity to build 3 sets of tenderizers, 2 defilers, and a set of knife gloves. (Possibly more depending on the surrounding zombies and where you come from) Those three weapons are all you need to win the entire game. Period. Most of the other combo weapons are either too impractical (Power Guitar), too bulky (Tesla Ball), or simply unusable (drill bucket) to have any use besides playing around. That's my problem with your whole argument. Dead Rising 2 basically hands you the best weapons in the game constantly anyway, if you really think anything in DR2 (aside from the Twins and TK) is hard then you're just impairing yourself. If you impair yourself in DR3 you get the same result, a game that is seemingly stupidly unfair in many respects. Adding to that there were blenders fucking everywhere, the quick grapple removals and shove run removed any threat a horde may pose, and MOST COMBO WEAPONS WERE JUST GIVEN TO YOU BY THE WORK BENCHES ANYWAY!

That being said, yeah the weapon lockers did remove a lot of the satisfaction of fucking around. Building a Blitzkrieg or Freedom Bear in DR2 was sweet because you had to know where to look for the items and truck them to a specific bench to build them with any kind of efficiency. The big ostentatious weapons are a treat. The more you have a treat the less special it becomes. Everybody knows that though. I wonder why the designers don't.