Dopamine per Dollar—measure Gaming RoI

Many of us talk about Hours/Dollar as a game metric. But what of Enjoyment?

I'd rather have a fantastic 10 hours than a humdrum 100 for the same price
I probably spend more time replaying ~15-20 games than playing the other ~2,000 I own. The reason is simple and the obvious: I love their gameplay. Someone here showed me there's no value in going thru the TBP list unless there's RoI in that—it's basically the sunk cost fallacy.

Your Investment

STEAM :D
Social capital
Time
Energy
Anticipation
Money—includes equipment

One of the reasons I stopped buying games in their first year is because the RoI was usually poor—3-5 hours in until it became obvious so many games weren't for me. While others were the bees knees for hundreds of hours. So in dollar terms, it tended to swing between $5-10/hour and 5-10¢/hour.

So with a 100-fold swing, Money is clearly not a good metric for me.

Pleasure Calculus

1 Intensity: How strong is the pleasure?
2 Duration: How long will the pleasure last?
3 Certainty or uncertainty: How likely or unlikely is it that the pleasure will occur?
4 Propinquity or remoteness: How soon will the pleasure occur?
5 Fecundity: The probability that the action will be followed by sensations of the same kind.
6 Purity: The probability that it will not be followed by sensations of the opposite kind.
7 Extent: How many people will be affected?

#3 hits directly at pre-ordering or buying at release—I've seen many of you be very disappointed with a keenly anticipated game which didn't satisfy.

#4 on the other hand hits directly at Patient Gamers like me—how long before the joy of anticipation and the camaraderie of having been duped into the latest over-hype fade? Longest I've deliberately waited—ie not a forgotten or unknown title—was 6 years for Civ 6. Put ~100 hours in so far, and will again—so how much does delayed gratification make up for the joy of being duped and gouged? ;)

Gross National Happiness

Some domains of Bhutan's GNH concept seem applicable to gaming:
Psychological well-being
Health
Time use
Education
Community vitality

We are delighted to announce that @Kaamos_Llama—coincidentally quoted above—has been the happiest member of PCG since he joined. The rest of us are sadly unFinnished.

Applying GNH to gaming looks not fun to me, but the many of you who enjoy hour-long boss fights should be like ducks to water for implementing this—we look forward to your first report, under Kaamos' leadership :D

Epicureanism

"the greatest good was to seek modest, sustainable pleasure in the form of a state of ataraxia (tranquility and freedom from fear) and aponia (the absence of bodily pain) through knowledge of the workings of the world and limiting desires"

Hey, I found it! Civilization with 'Never War' selected. Woohoo :D

Probably limited relevance for most tho, BSU 'Blow Stuff Up' seems at odds with 'Tranquility', while FFF 'Freedom From Fear' nixes the whole horror and survival genres!

Related issue—Story

I know many of you here are big on story as a game element. Does this mean you can't get repeat enjoyment from a game you love? Sees a shame, if that's the case—but maybe good news for people like me with bad memory :)

Your Metric

So, how do/will you measure your gaming RoI?
If you know of any other possible approaches, please post a link for us.

The first one—PC—seems most relevant for me, with a dash of Epicurean Zen from time to time. GNH is relevant, but… eh, the story doesn't pull me in :D
 

Frindis

Moderator
Your Investment
  • I see myself as a collector. I invest time and money in getting games, preferably always for a discounted price or even free. Some of the games I collect can't get collected anymore through Steam because of the delisting, so I am also in a way archiving them, if only for personal enjoyment.
  • I also invest in skins as I see it as a way to use less of my own money and more of others for future investments.

Pleasure Calculus
  • I think purity fits best. I guess that is one of the reasons why I tend to swap between games I like a lot and not necessarily try out new games all the time.

Gross National Happiness
  • I think each of those plays some way in my own life, especially the social and psychological aspects. Video games make me a happy individual, perhaps slightly a beefcake one.

Epicureanism
  • I'm more for finding my inner peace through violence. One of the reasons Manhunt is one of my favorite games. The more blood and gore, the better it is. Hitman games are also high up there and I find it particularly soothing to kill off every single person on a map at times. It's kind of macabre, but in a fun way. Right guys......right? I'm also a sucker for slasher movies, so not really a shocker there. I'm not all crazy though, I can also find inner peace through games like Abzu or relaxing platform games. I even shed a tear or two when Mario got told the princess was in another castle.
Playing a little with colors, hope it does not look too ugly and bugly for you guys.
 
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Zloth

Community Contributor
Arg! Dang font. I thought you were saying Rol not RoI. Ha, see! I thought the last letter was a lower case L, not an upper case i. Silly font tricks.

Investment: time
and $'s. Cost of equipment seems like a non-issue for an individual game, that's more the cost of the hobby, IMHO.

Revenue: draw
a curve of how much fun I'm having over the course of the game (can go negative). Area under the curve (negative counts as anti-fun) is the amount of fun gained directly from the game. Add some extra factors for fun had after the game (checking out old screenshots) and social fun chatting about the game

Playing a
lot with the colors, because it's also fun. ;)
 
Epicureanism

"the greatest good was to seek modest, sustainable pleasure in the form of a state of ataraxia (tranquility and freedom from fear) and aponia (the absence of bodily pain) through knowledge of the workings of the world and limiting desires"

Hey, I found it! Civilization with 'Never War' selected. Woohoo :D

Probably limited relevance for most tho, BSU 'Blow Stuff Up' seems at odds with 'Tranquility', while FFF 'Freedom From Fear' nixes the whole horror and survival genres!
Obviously, those that enjoy blowing stuff up and being scared have not obtained the greatest good, which is playing Minecraft in creative mode.

Related issue—Story

I know many of you here are big on story as a game element. Does this mean you can't get repeat enjoyment from a game you love? Sees a shame, if that's the case—but maybe good news for people like me with bad memory :)
I haven't replayed Mass Effect since the first time I played it, because it just wouldn't have the same impact as when I first played it. I did start a renegade run at some point, but got bored after only a couple of hours because of this.

It'll probably take another 5-10 years or so before I've forgotten enough to replay the series.

Your Metric

So, how do/will you measure your gaming RoI?
If you know of any other possible approaches, please post a link for us.

The first one—PC—seems most relevant for me, with a dash of Epicurean Zen from time to time. GNH is relevant, but… eh, the story doesn't pull me in :D
Yeah, PC seems the most relevant to me too. My approach:

1 Intensity: How strong is the pleasure?
How much will I enjoy the main gameplay loop? This is usually pretty easy for me to predict.

2 Duration: How long will the pleasure last?
This'll be the minimum of the duration of the game (assuming the game has an end) and the amount of time the main gameplay loop will stay entertaining. For a lot of games, the latter will be shorter than the former, either because the game has no end or because the main gameplay loop doesn't stay fun throughout the entirety of the game. Slightly harder to predict, but doable for most games.

3 Certainty or uncertainty: How likely or unlikely is it that the pleasure will occur?
This is mostly an issue with multiplayer games, as I'll have to judge the likelihood I'll have someone who's willing to play and we're able to schedule time to play together. My approach so far has been to only get multiplayer games my wife has picked, as I know we'll be able to schedule time together and her choosing the game means I know she'll want to play.

4 Propinquity or remoteness: How soon will the pleasure occur?
There's two parts to this. First of all there's the question: if I buy this game now, when will I actually play it? Even for games that look interesting, the answer to that is "probably after at least a year", just because I already own a similar game I still want to play.

The second part is: how long is the tutorial/set-up? How long after I start playing do I actually get to fully enjoy the main gameplay loop? With limited time, I will often skip games I know start slowly.

EDIT: I forgot to mention it, but set-up also includes loading times and just clicking through the menus before you're actually in the game. The loading times while playing factor into this point as well. Though with SSDs most games have fairly short loading times, especially compared to some of the loading times from before SSDs became common. Still, it's something to watch out for too.

5 Fecundity: The probability that the action will be followed by sensations of the same kind.
6 Purity: The probability that it will not be followed by sensations of the opposite kind.
It seems like these would mostly apply to games with multiple gameplay mechanics that alternate, where the question is whether all of them are fun or whether you can ignore the less fun parts. Some games will force you to interact with a mechanic that you don't care about. This means you'll need to do some decent research before buying a game so you're aware what gameplay mechanics are used.

7 Extent: How many people will be affected?
This determines how big the community around the game is, which is of course important for online multiplayer games, but for singleplayer games it also determines the amount of information you can find on the internet if you get stuck/have questions and the amount of mods that are available. This is generally easy enough to find out before buying/playing a game.
 
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I probably spend more time replaying ~15-20 games than playing the other ~2,000 I own. The reason is simple and the obvious: I love their gameplay.
That's me. I spend more gaming hours every year replaying games I played before compared to any new releases or my massive TBP on Steam & GOG. My reasoning is similar, I love the gameplay and experience certain games give me, and I find I'd rather do that than take a chance on a game I'm not familiar with. There are also some games that can be modded and the resulting gameplay can change in subtle or dramatic ways. It might be a couple of years between play throughs, but there are certain games that I go back to constantly because I just love the experience of being there.

Related issue—Story

I know many of you here are big on story as a game element. Does this mean you can't get repeat enjoyment from a game you love? Sees a shame, if that's the case—but maybe good news for people like me with bad memory :)
I get a huge amount of enjoyment from replaying story-based games, especially the Mass Effect and Dragon Age games, not only because of the story itself, but because of the complex character & NPC personalities that make the game less like a game and more of a real world. The dialogue and conversations, as well as the voice acting make those games come alive, and even though I know the main story line, the experience never gets old.

Your Metric

So, how do/will you measure your gaming RoI?
Truthfully, I never really thought about it. I have no metric for my happiness when it comes to playing a game, I just play what I like. PC gaming has been part of my life since I first played the Ultima games. It's sort of a suspension of belief to be part of a game world and how you (I) react within it. Similar to reading a good book or book series, but within a game's word, I have control over what I do or say, then live with the consequences.

I've never felt that any of the financial investments made in my PC components, peripherals, monthly internet costs, or game costs were relevant to my enjoyment. So much of what I do outside of gaming is also connected to many of those costs, such as communication, finances, or watching movies. Basically, I don't think there is a universal metric to measure happiness or enjoyment when it comes to PC gaming.


Playing a little with colors, hope it does not look too ugly and bugly for you guys.
Playing a lot with the colors, because it's also fun. ;)
You guy are killng my eyesight!:cool:
 
Impossible to quantify fun, but interesting to think about.

For me, kind of like any other media, if a game has a moment where I'm awed for any reason, I value that experience most highly. That can come from an adrenaline rush in a boss battle, game mechanics mashing together and just feeling good, a piece of writing or story beat that touches you or amazes for some reason, something audio/visual that's just exciting and different. As games include elements from every other type of media, and adds on top of that interaction, it can be anything. You know when the music makes the hairs on your neck stand up?

So if a game manages to give me some of those moments, I'm unlikely to care that much if it lasts 2 hours or 200. It'll be on my happy list. Also then impossible to know before hand if you'll get one of those moments.

There are games that are fun for me in other ways, mostly because they are challenging. 4x/Grand Strategy/Tactics games with tricky mechanics keep me coming back because its fun for me to try and work things out. Those types of games just last longer naturally, but maybe don't have as much chance of awe, as opposed to a steady flow kicking in.

Worth saying, theres a point where I'd be annoyed at AAA pricing of 60 or 70 for a game that lasted 2 hours or something, but I'm pretty sure devs arent ever going to price that way because they would know a backlash was coming.
 
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No matter how much research you do there will always be a degree of risk involved. The more quality research the lower the risk but it's still there. I don't buy any game based on how long it will run though paying £100 for a 1 hour game would be expensive.

There has to be something special for me to open my wallet. It could be the potential of improved gameplay (within a series), what may be an amazing story line, meeting old friends again (like Minsc) or just trying something new.

P.S. Anyone thought about writing a text book on this topic? :)
 
I prefer games that take 10 hours to "beat" .. but the gameplay is so deep and the challenge is so well done that you could spend another 50 hours having fun doing challenges and mastering it.
On the Commodore 64, I had a skiing game with three different events you could play. It would probably take less than 15 minutes to play through all 3 events. But I can't imagine how many hours late into the night my cousin, brother, and I spent playing that game over and over to try to beat our records.
 
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On the Commodore 64, I had a skiing game with three different events you could play. It would probably take less than 15 minutes to play through all 3 events. But I can't imagine how many hours late into the night my cousin, brother, and I spent playing that game over and over to try to beat our records.
We had a similar game called Rogue back in the mists of the 1990s. You always died but the point was to beat the high score or just get on the high score table. The game could be over in minutes or last an hour (rare).

I suppose the point is that some games are designed like this. Others, like many adventure games, were longer but had almost no replay value.
 
We had a similar game called Rogue back in the mists of the 1990s. You always died but the point was to beat the high score or just get on the high score table. The game could be over in minutes or last an hour (rare).

I suppose the point is that some games are designed like this. Others, like many adventure games, were longer but had almost no replay value.
I think the game I own that has the most replay value is Pool Nation. I could play a game of 8-ball anytime.
 
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