Naomi Clark and I had a remarkably reasonable discussion in the comments section here the other day, and I’ve been mulling over it since. The gist being I was saying I didn’t really see the point of describing labor mechanics as a specific thing, and Clark discussing (at length, to her credit) what that point was. I think she’s the right one here, which I probably would have figured out earlier had I seen the talk, especially since so much of my thinking of late has been in terms of organizational/behavioral economics (specifically, relating a large social game audience to a large corporation conceptually.)
So I am now proposing the Harry Dean Stanton Corollary to the labor mechanic. Harry Dean Stanton in Fire Walk With Me, that is: “It’s just like…more shit I gotta do now.”
That line has been a go-to quote in my house since I first saw the movie, and it has cropped up more than once in relationship to games. With many games, including ones I once enjoyed, I hit the More Shit I Gotta Do Now wall at some point; it just feels like too much work for not enough fun. I think I made it to level 34 in WoW before the Harry Dean Stanton Corollary conquered me; those last four(teen?) levels (do bear in mind that I was a first-day player…this isn’t recent WoW I’m referring to) were dragging on making me feel like I had a second job rather than a fun game. Finally I just quit bothering.
I hit the More Shit wall after about five freaking minutes of Cityville and the other Facebook games I have been attempting to play.
I think I get why plenty of people grit their teeth through the awfulness and play those abominations; I’m fairly certain that for a significant demographic, this playstyle represents their maximum creative experience on any given day. I cannot help but imagine what might happen if one made a social game that was at least as creative an experience with a significantly decreased More Shit I Gotta Do Now level.