Dragon Quest Builders (Part 2) – The Skinner Box? (SPOILER HEAVY)

There is one question I asked myself after writing the original Part 1.

Did I like this game because I fell into the Skinner Box?


The Skinner Box has been used so many times to make a game feel good but in the end been seriously flawed.

The slot machine, the lottery, the levelling bar (when used wrongly) all use techniques that come directly from the Skinner Box concept.

But has the Skinner Box actually taken a new form in this game?

This is the most researched of my posts (I started by reading Wikipedia and moved on)

The Skinner Box is there unfortunately, when you place item in your base you have a meter that does increase when you build rooms, add decorations and upgrade rooms which eventually does increase to a point where the town levels up.

Except I’ve been ignoring the XP.  The reason why I have been building isn’t because of a number;  In my first writing on this game, I mentioned “Chapter 2” where food was scarce and I built a kitchen to stave off hunger… that isn’t a Skinner Box in action, this is mechanic creating a challenge.


What about the Seeds of Life, get one and get 5HP increase in Max Health, another Skinner Box?

Yet again are you really fighting enemies in this game?  Not really unless you are fighting for resources and if you have the right weapons and know how to evade you don’t take damage.

At the same time, you don’t really know when the Seeds of Life are going to be the rewards… they never reveal the quests’ rewards so you can’t game the game through the objectives.


Lets look at a “Chapter” in its form here.  The first chapter was to rebuild the main town which I succeeded in because it triggered the boss battle and I won (although why a Boss Battle?) and it wasn’t reliant on building up to level 5.

Chapter 2 is about healing a major cursed land by healing the inhabitants.  Again, it appears that although there are some Level Up objectives, the final goal isn’t a magical number its a visible goal.

All sub-objectives have a purpose as well; create a fishing rod and fish for fish, build a kitchen and gain food without having to find food resources, build massive shields and have the tools for the final boss; they are effectively tutorials to provide new tools that you can use and the reward doesn’t just come from the items given by the quest givers.


The Skinner Boxes that DO exist in this game are very difficult to ignore for a person analysing the game.

However as a player I don’t really feel their effects; they are there yes but the goal isn’t to push through the game just to make a magic number rise and win the game.

In fact every chapter does a hard reset, your next Chapter reduces your health, empties your inventory AND starts your next town at level 1.

Now I did say there were some flaws…

Obligatory Follow Me Section


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Sources

Game: Dragon Quest Builders

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operant_conditioning_chamber

http://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html

https://www.verywell.com/what-is-a-skinner-box-2795875

https://www.boundless.com/psychology/textbooks/boundless-psychology-textbook/learning-7/operant-conditioning-47/basic-principles-of-operant-conditioning-skinner-197-12732/

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