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Subject: Cognitive biases and logical fallacies in gamers rss

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What are some common cognitive biases or logical fallacies that we geeks reiterate daily on these forums? Post your favorites or just some interesting thoughts on the subject.

These are some common statements that I think might be influenced by logical fallacies, or so it seems to me.

(1) "Dice hate me!"

They don't, you're probably just making conclusions from a small sample where you had a below-average run. AND our brains for some reason are programmed to remember bad events better than good events, which doesn't help.

(2) Gambler's fallacy. Like in, "Come on, I'm sure I can't roll a 1 again... What? A 1 again?! Okay, I'm rerolling one last time, and there is NO WAY I'm going to roll a 1 three times in a row! What are the odds of that?!"

The chances of rolling a 1 did not change after your rolled a 1 X many times in a row. You're still going to get a 1 just as often as any other result. This is a very common fallacy, it's just the way our brain works, and it's the reason why casinos make so much money.

(3) Bad luck of the draw. Like in, "I don't like co-ops, because bad luck of the draw can ruin your chances to win."

These cards are bad intentionally, and they are an important part of the game's difficulty. It is not bad luck that you drew them, you were supposed to draw them by the designer, and they were supposed to hit you if you're not prepared! Rather, think about it this way: you were lucky in those games where you did not draw any cards that made it hard for you.

Or like in, "I don't like CCGs/LCGs because bad luck of the draw will make you lose the game before it even starts."

Again, the luck is not bad. This is a sort of probability misunderstanding where when you draw a good distribution of cards you consider it normal, and when you don't you consider it abnormal (and can even get angry). But both are normal, are likely, and will happen regularly, more or less often depending on the game / your deck. This statement should just be, "I don't like the level of randomness in these games." This happens to any game that has randomness, CCGs/LCGs are no different. You can play best of 3 or 5 to mitigate that.
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Pete
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Re: Cognitive biases and logical fallacies in games
I'm sure some people believe that luck must even out, but I would wager most know better even when they're making these comments. I will utter these phrases sometimes knowing full well that luck is not deterministic, because I want to create a narrative for the game I am playing.

Pete (knows plenty of smart people who do the same)
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Re: Cognitive biases and logical fallacies in games
Heads!
 
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Koldfoot wrote:
I got screwed on my last 5 Kickstarters, but this one will be ok.

Based upon my poor understanding of KickStarter and a lack of experience in crowdfunding, I think the probability of somebody getting screwed on KickStarter may be a reflection of what kind of projects this person backs and how much research he does about the game/publisher?
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These games are in the top 100 they must be *better* than all the other games.

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Your #3 fallacy is a bit of a fallacy, given you can end up with combinations of cards that make rebuttal not only unlikely, but actually impossible. To say it is intentional for this to happen would be bad design. It is likely unlikely, but possible, and does occur.
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darthain wrote:
Your #3 fallacy is a bit of a fallacy, given you can end up with combinations of cards that make rebuttal not only unlikely, but actually impossible. To say it is intentional for this to happen would be bad design. It is likely unlikely, but possible, and does occur.

Could be the case, sometimes, in some games. For me, personally, most of the time it's hard to tell the difference between "this setup is unwinnable" and "I didn't play good enough".

Then, it's also a matter of preference, but why does every single co-op playthrough should be winnable? In competitive games against an equal opponent you're going to lose half of the time no matter how hard you try. The fact that you could have prevented the loss is an illusion: no you couldn't. You did what you thought is best and still lost.

I think it's okay that in some co-ops you may lose 40% of the time no matter how hard you try. Other people may only lose 20% of the time. Just consider a hard co-op as playing against a tough opponent, who is learning just as you do, and sometimes will beat you no matter how hard you try (because of skill or luck).

I personally vastly prefer these games to the ones where you lose 0% of the time, just because they usually are capable of providing a much more interesting challenge on average.
 
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Th334 wrote:
Koldfoot wrote:
I got screwed on my last 5 Kickstarters, but this one will be ok.

Based upon my poor understanding of KickStarter and a lack of experience in crowdfunding, I think the probability of somebody getting screwed on KickStarter may be a reflection of what kind of projects this person backs and how much research he does about the game/publisher?


While it is totally possible for a legit project with a competent staff behind it to fail... Yeah. If you are regularly backing failed kickstarters, odds are it is less a platform problem and more you as a patron problem.
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Th334 wrote:
darthain wrote:
Your #3 fallacy is a bit of a fallacy, given you can end up with combinations of cards that make rebuttal not only unlikely, but actually impossible. To say it is intentional for this to happen would be bad design. It is likely unlikely, but possible, and does occur.

Could be the case, sometimes, in some games. For me, personally, most of the time it's hard to tell the difference between "this setup is unwinnable" and "I didn't play good enough".

Then, it's also a matter of preference, but why does every single co-op playthrough should be winnable? In competitive games against an equal opponent you're going to lose half of the time no matter how hard you try. The fact that you could have prevented the loss is an illusion: no you couldn't. You did what you thought is best and still lost.

I think it's okay that in some co-ops you may lose 40% of the time no matter how hard you try. Other people may only lose 20% of the time. Just consider a hard co-op as playing against a tough opponent, who is learning just as you do, and sometimes will beat you no matter how hard you try (because of skill or luck).

I personally vastly prefer these games to the ones where you lose 0% of the time, just because they usually are capable of providing a much more interesting challenge on average.

And this supports the idea that it's not a logical fallacy, but in fact a matter of personal preference. Some people are okay with random chance making a game extremely difficult, if not impossible. Other people's brains work in ways that makes them unable to enjoy going through the motions of a game that they may be unable to win.

I've lost an unwinnable game of Pandemic after a single turn, due to a highly unlikely combination of infection cards appearing all at once. We immediately reshuffled and restarted the game, but I'm sure that that would make some people refuse to play the game ever again. That doesn't make their preference illogical.
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Th334 wrote:
[q="darthain"]
Then, it's also a matter of preference, but why does every single co-op playthrough should be winnable? In competitive games against an equal opponent you're going to lose half of the time no matter how hard you try. The fact that you could have prevented the loss is an illusion: no you couldn't. You did what you thought is best and still lost.


I am of the opinion if you cannot possibly win in a play through, the design was poor. You need to have the chance to win, whether you manage it or not. If situations arise where the game cannot be defeated, you may as well play another game, as you are just wasting your time.
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runtsta wrote:
And this supports the idea that it's not a logical fallacy, but in fact a matter of personal preference. Some people are okay with random chance making a game extremely difficult, if not impossible. Other people's brains work in ways that makes them unable to enjoy going through the motions of a game that they may be unable to win.

I've lost an unwinnable game of Pandemic after a single turn, due to a highly unlikely combination of infection cards appearing all at once. We immediately reshuffled and restarted the game, but I'm sure that that would make some people refuse to play the game ever again. That doesn't make their preference illogical.

Yes, agreed. I guess what I actually meant to say is that people intuitively don't expect unlikely events to happen, at all. If something has a 3% chance of happening during a turn, you will probably see it happening to at least someone every game or two. And this person will exclaim, "How could this happen to me?!", and not, "How could this not happen to me all the other times I played this game?".

But it's not really a fallacy to think that games have bad luck of the draw.

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darthain wrote:
I am of the opinion if you cannot possibly win in a play through, the design was poor. You need to have the chance to win, whether you manage it or not. If situations arise where the game cannot be defeated, you may as well play another game, as you are just wasting your time.

Again, in the co-op games I'm thinking about (the hardest ones being Shadowrun Crossfire or Ghost Stories) there is no way for you to know if a certain randomly generated game is winnable or not. I bet even the worst situations are beatable, given that you can manage to predict them correctly and prepare optimally.

But if you're playing a game which gets you to roll 2d6 and the winning condition is 13, then yeah, sure, it's a bad design, because it's impossible.

I don't think Pandemic is such a game, although I haven't played it, so someone correct me if I'm wrong: if in Pandemic you would manage to perfectly anticipate the order of all the bad events, and then counter-pick the best strategy to face these events, any possible situation is beatable, no?

If yes, then Pandemic is never impossible to beat, you just need to play optimally and get lucky with guessing the direction the game is going. In Ghost Stories you need to play optimally and/or get lucky with dice rolls.
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Th334 wrote:
if in Pandemic you would manage to perfectly anticipate the order of all the bad events, and then counter-pick the best strategy to face these events, any possible situation is beatable, no?

If yes, then Pandemic is never impossible to beat, you just need to play optimally and get lucky with guessing the direction the game is going.


https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/464150/pandemic-fail-how-lo...
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Bohmoplata wrote:
I can fit one more game on my shelf...

That's not a fallacy, it's not, IT'S NOT!!!
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bwingrave wrote:

That's interesting.

Although in this particular session it was a non-issue, really: just start over, you've invested only a minute in this play through.

I guess it could happen in the middle of the game too, which would be a problem, but I assume it's even rarer for it to be unavoidable mid-game, because if you could back-track your actions you should find a hypothetical path to victory.

I guess it boils down to: if you like the game, you will laugh off a once-in-a-lifetime probability glitch and continue enjoying the game. And if you don't, well, it's not like you are losing anything by not playing a game that you don't like.

Unless even the thought of a once-in-a-lifetime unavoidable loss in an hour-long board game drives some people insane...

By the way, I thought of another cognitive bias common around here: when people inherently presume that their thoughts and experiences are just as true to others as they are to them. Like in, "Surely no one can obsess over a 0.1% unavoidable failure rate in 1-hour-long board game that you probably gonna play maximum 20 times in your life, right?" whistle
 
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skutsch wrote:
Bohmoplata wrote:
I can fit one more game on my shelf...

That's not a fallacy, it's not, IT'S NOT!!!

You can ALWAYS fit one more game on your shelf!

Unless you can't.

But then you're probably just going to buy another shelf.
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Human beings are inherently logical creatures, and should have opinions and make decisions based exclusively on the rational consistency of their thoughts. Matters of emotion, imagination, fantasy, narrative, and humor should be left out of gaming. You know, fun.
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plezercruz wrote:
I'm sure some people believe that luck must even out, but I would wager most know better even when they're making these comments. I will utter these phrases sometimes knowing full well that luck is not deterministic, because I want to create a narrative for the game I am playing.

Pete (knows plenty of smart people who do the same)


This. I'll "pre-roll" my dice so that they're "more likely" to roll high numbers. I like to see the reactions of those around the table when I state this in utter seriousness. A few times I haven't even retracted my belief in doing so, so there are probably a handful of people who think I'm absurdly superstitious.
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mawilson4 wrote:
This. I'll "pre-roll" my dice so that they're "more likely" to roll high numbers. I like to see the reactions of those around the table when I state this in utter seriousness. A few times I haven't even retracted my belief in doing so, so there are probably a handful of people who think I'm absurdly superstitious.

You should try it in Escape: The Curse of the Temple. I've heard that pre-rolling in this game can be the difference between life and death.
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A player who wins the first time they play a game is more likely to like the game.
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Th334 wrote:
Again, the luck is not bad.


A phrase IRL I have is "you make your own luck", but this applies to board game design and strategy as well. I often play Eldritch Horror with new players, and, while the game may end with one bad die roll, or an unlucky card, the real strategy is avoiding putting yourself in that situation where you relied upon a critical event either out of your control, or determined by luck. Good boardgame design uses random events for variety of play, not to determine if the players win.

Uh... not sure how you're defining cognitive bias or logical fallacy wrt games, tho.
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Sam and Max wrote:
Uh... not sure how you're defining cognitive bias or logical fallacy wrt games, tho.


In gamers. Things like confirmation bias, as another example: "I know that Ameristyle games are fun and Euros are boring and soulless exercises in cube-pushing. For me the issues is settled, and I try to hang around Ameristyle games and discussion, which only reinforces that I'm right, because everybody else in the these discussions thinks the same way. And when I hear somebody saying how they prefer Euros and why, I'm not really paying attention, because I'm not interested in changing my view on the subject, and prefer having the status quo of me being right, with a better understanding and taste for board games."

Now the above might be exaggerated to show the point (or not, for some people), but to a lesser degree most of us experience confirmation bias on a daily basis.
 
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I can pretty much guarantee that the cards and dice come up in a way sometimes that make a game of Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island impossible to win, even with perfect play. That's something that I've accepted about the game though and it adds to the excitement, I feel. I don't see it as a flaw.

As the Donkey Kong players say, "you just got to play consistent and hope for good randomness."
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