You probably thought I was done in bashing Oculus. Oh how wrong you were. MWAHAHAHA. If you are not interested in psychology of gameplay, you may just want to skip this post, or at least just scroll on down to the very last section. You’ve been forewarned. Please don’t stop subscribing to Miss Medicina just because I find psychology of gameplay a worthy wall of text topic. This is what happens when instead of writing my thesis, I wax poetic on World of Warcraft.
In response to my own post yesterday, I can answer my title question quite easily. “Why Occulus is a Failure?” Because even some of us grammar Nazis just can’t spell it. Sigh. Thank you Shintar for pointing out my egregious error. Even Larisa gave me some light teasing, and informed us all who Occulus really is. If I had not misspelled Oculus in the title of the post itself, I would go back and correct my spelling, but now it’s out there, and everyone whose spelling I have criticized can redirect me to it.
Earlier I touched upon the problems with Oculus in regards to the Vehicle Mechanic. I stand by my hypothesis that this is one of the major issues influencing the overall failure of Oculus as an instance, but I wanted to post separately about something that was brought up in the comments that has also contributed to its failure.
Many people mentioned that their biggest struggle with this instance has nothing at all to do with learning the abilities of a new vehicle, and more related to flying. Oculus and Eye of Eternity phase 3 are both three dimensional fights. That is to say, they not only require you to properly move left, right, forward and back, but also up and down. For some of us this is a more serious problem than for others.
Traditionally our game fights are horizontal. Adding that extra vertical element can either be perceived as a welcome challenge that adds a lot to the fight for some, or a vertigo inspiring nightmare for others. I fall into the latter category. I won’t even talk about PvP fighting in Aion. Regardless, I don’t blame Blizzard. No, I blame my hippocampus.
First I will draw you a pretty picture that shows where your hippocampus is. By the way, I’m totally accepting commissions for my now famous MSPaint diagrams.
So what does your Hippocampus do? Well, to be honest, there is still some debate on this, but here’s what scientists currently think the Hippocampus does (simplistically of course). I originally wrote a lot more about the first two duties of the Hippocampus, but if you are interested in that, go to that wiki – I will try to cut this post down only to the relevant material.
· Helps you form new episodic memories.
· Another theory that is apparently not very popular currently is the inhibition function. The idea is that if you have hippocampal damage, you may seem more hyperactive, or have difficulty learning to inhibit your responses to things based on how you first learned to respond. You may seem a little… well, tweaky.
· The most relevant function of the Hippocampus to this post, however, is its role in spatial memory and navigation. This is related to the discovery of what is called “place cells” in the Hippocampus. These are spatial firing fields in the neurons in the Hippocampus, and they are triggered by recognizing your location, the direction you are faced, if you’ve been there before, where you suspect you are heading, etc etc etc.
The discovery of place cells led to the idea that the hippocampus might act as a cognitive map — a neural representation of the layout of the environment… Studies with animals have shown that an intact hippocampus is required for simple spatial memory tasks (for instance, finding the way back to a hidden goal)… the hippocampus plays a particularly important role in finding shortcuts and new routes between familiar places. Some people exhibit more skill at this sort of navigation than do others, and brain imaging shows that these individuals have more active hippocampi when navigating. (Taken from the Wiki linked above)
Why am I bringing this potentially boring topic into a discussion about flying fantasy drakes? Because I suck at flying in a 3d environment, and I wanted to know why. I get disoriented. I don’t know what direction I’m facing, or where I’m heading. Even though I stated yesterday that the overwhelming problem with Vehicle Mechanic fights is learning the new abilities at the drop of a hat, that’s not actually the biggest issue for me and many others. Sure, I don’t particularly LIKE it, but that’s not enough to make me rudely drop group after landing in Oculus. However, my complete inability to navigate within a 3D environment is. And apparently I’m not the only one.
Do you find yourself getting lost in Oculus? Are you useless flying on your own near Malygos? In spite of all that, are you still pretty good at Flame Leviathon and jousting? If you do not have a problem with vehicle mounts on a flat surface, but struggle in a vertical one this may be your issue. If you have tried to PvP in Aion by flying around, and struggle with it, this may also be your issue. Hippocampal damage can have severe debilitating effects on your spatial navigation system. And it is not uncommon to have some minor degree of Hippocampal damage. It’s not just for people with Parkinson’s or Alzheimers Syndrome.
The Role of Depression in Hippocampal Damage
I’m going to throw some statistics at you, folks. Take them as you see fit – 326% of statistics are bogus, right?
· 15% of the population of most developed countries suffers severe depression.
· 30% of women are depressed. Men's figures were previously thought to be half that of women, but new estimates are higher.
· 80% of depressed people are not currently having any treatment.
· 80% of people who see physicians are depressed.
Basically, all that means is that a lot of people are depressed, a lot of people don’t take it very seriously, and I deliberately did not include the stats on suicide. It’s just too… well, depressing. I will save my soapbox rant about people misunderstanding exactly what depression is for another time, another place. That having been said, I know it’s a controversial topic here in the states, but please do not comment here to tell me all about how people are whiney, and depression is a silly pill-popping conundrum. Link me a peer-reviewed journal article on the topic and I will take you a lot more seriously.
And it probably comes as no surprise to you that a lot of depressed people play MMOs.
I can’t find the actual article Dr. Noshir Contractor wrote, or a copy of the presentation, but it was a pretty hot topic amongst MMO players for while. Here’s the skinny:
· 7,000 players of EverQuest II were surveyed.
· 21% of the players who didn’t play the game that often were depressed.
· 30% of the players who DID play the game often were depressed.
· "This could mean that highly active players get more depressed or that depressed people are more likely to be active role players," said the author of the study, Noshir Contractor, a professor of behavioral science.
One of the reasons Dr. Contractor won my respect is due to that very quote – showing a correlation between two things does not show causality. What that means in layman’s terms is that just because a bunch of depressed people play an MMO does not mean that the MMO makes them depressed. Maybe they play the MMO BECAUSE they are depressed.
Without reading the actual study, I cannot tell you how “playing the game often” was quantified, or how researchers determined who was depressed. I also can’t tell you if folks who play EQ2 are inherently different than those who play World of Warcraft. To someone who doesn’t play these games, we all may be the same. But to those of us who do, there could be vast differences. According to tables shown at mmodata.net, WoW has just over 11.5 million players. Aion is fairly new in North America, and has just south of 3 million players. EQII is listed as having around 200,000 players.
This leaves me wondering… if you surveyed Aion players (a game which is developed around a concept of three dimensional PvP via flying) and compared them to WoW players (which is not), would you see a lot fewer people sticking around to play in the Abyss in Aion if they are depressed? I know, I know, what a logical leap. But this is MY kind of theorycrafting, mmk?
Get to the Point, J-Bizzle
Alright, alright. TLDR like whoa, I know. I find this stuff fascinating. My point in this argument is actually very simple. A lot of people have a problem with Oculus and Eye of Eternity, not because they struggle to learn new vehicle mechanics, but because they struggle with the 3 dimensional, vertical aspect.
I am merely suggesting that since deficiencies in spatial navigation are often connected to problems in the Hippocampus, which is also linked to depression, and that since depression is allegedly more common amongst MMO players than the average population, maybe this isn’t really that big of a surprise. I’m not saying that if you suck at Oculus, you are Hippocampally challenged either. There is truth in the argument that a lot of people hate Oculus simply because they can’t zerg it, and therefore, in an attempt to maximize their badge-grinding time, drop out of it.
The hippocampus is often directly linked to depression.
The hippocampus is also linked to spatial memory and navigation.
Lots of depressed folks play MMOs.
So let’s just go out on a limb here, and say that IF 25% of WoW players suffer from some degree of depression, and IF depression does have a solid link to hippocampal damage, maybe, just maybe, 25% of players struggle with the Oculus because three-dimensional fights are particularly challenging for them.
The other 75% just hate those whelps in the first pull, yo.