The original Borderlands appeared a decade ago, followed by the iconic Borderlands 2 in 2012 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel two years later. Developer Gearbox Software has now said the next game in the series, the eagerly-awaited Borderlands 3, will finally be released 13 September.
Why is everyone so excited about the new game? Well, it’s partly because Borderlands is the archetype of a looter shooter, which adds role-playing game (RPG) mechanics — notably killing enemies that drop loot as a reward — to the action of a first-person shooter (FPS). This combination, coupled with the franchise’s humor, is what makes Borderlands fun to play. Here’s the science behind it…
One of the main reasons why people enjoy playing video games is they create an immersive experience that makes you forget the world around you. According to user-experience designer Emily Brown and computer scientist Paul Cairns, that has three levels: engagement, engrossment and total immersion. Games can also draw players into a mental state known as ‘flow’, a concept developed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who described flow as “A state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”
The flow concept was inspired by observations of artists, musicians and sports players, people who work best while in the ‘The Zone’ — a state of flow. There’s no clear distinction between immersion and flow, however, which suggests the two states might actually be the same: flow includes eight dimensions, many of which overlap with immersion, such as an altered perception of time and pleasure from balancing the challenge of a task and a person’s skill (an activity that’s too challenging causes anxiety, whereas too easy leads to boredom). Losing track of time and an enjoyable challenge-skill balance? That’s exactly what gamers experience.
First-person shooters like Borderlands seem to be especially good at drawing people into a state of immersion or flow. In a classic study, researchers Lennart Nacke and Craig Lindley measured physiological responses — from facial muscle movements and sweating (via electrical conductivity) in skin — of adults playing the FPS Half-Life 2, then asked participants to report their psychological state. The results showed that people experienced greater positive emotions and skin arousal when playing levels that were immersive compared to boring, and were even more happy and excited when playing levels designed to provoke flow. As Nacke explained, the effect is down to the fast-paced nature of FPS games: “Video games are essentially about decision-making… First-person shooters put these tasks on speed. What might be a very simple decision if you have all the time in the world becomes much more attractive and complex when you have to do it split second.” In other words, multiple rounds of rapid shooting will force you to concentrate on the game.
Besides prompting a rush of the ‘feel-good hormone’ dopamine, FPS games also benefit cognitive function. Over the past 15 years, psychologists Daphne Bavelier and C Shawn Green have found that playing action games improves a variety of mental skills, such as making people better at focusing on visual details and switching between tasks. And the reaction times of regular gamers are 10% faster without sacrificing accuracy under pressure. As Bavelier and Green summarized in ‘The brain-boosting power of games‘, “The player must decide whether a moving object is friend or foe and choose which weapon to use, where to aim and when to fire, all in the space of a second or so.” This is relevant to Borderlands, in which certain enemies are vulnerable to damage from specific elements (like fire) so players must quickly switch between elemental weapons.
With 17,750,000 guns, the first Borderlands was awarded a Guinness world record for ‘the videogame that features the most useable firearms’. Gearbox Software joked that Borderlands 2 has “87 bazillion” guns (the true figure is probably 2.7 million) and as company president Randy Pitchford once said, “There are enough where it doesn’t matter.”
Such huge numbers are possible thanks to an algorithm — a set of logical instructions — that randomly generates each gun on the fly by building it from a variety of parts (barrel, grip etc) according to a pre-programmed procedure. This procedural generation gives different guns — everything from pistols and sniper rifles to shotguns and rocket launchers — various statistics for things like damage, accuracy and fire rate. In Borderlands, a dead enemy can drop guns, shields and other randomly-generated loot.
Why do gamers love to pick-up loot? One reason is probably similar to why people collect Pokémon: because it’s a challenge. According to marketing professor Russell Belk, the aim isn’t to finish the set, but in “striving for bigger and better collections.” For Borderlands players, that means trying to get guns and other items with the best stats, which requires repeatedly completing missions such as beating a raid boss that drops rare loot.
Because item stats are random, looting is like gambling, which can lead to addiction. Gambling distorts reality and hooks your brain in several ways: uncertainty activates reward circuits, for example, which triggers release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which also acts as a ‘reward hormone’. Risk-taking and regret also seem to be hard-wired into our neural circuitry, which helps explain why we’re prone to becoming addicted to sex and drugs and even games.
Arguably the thing that sets Borderlands apart from more recent looter-shooter franchises, such as Destiny or The Division, is the humor. Though some of its memes are now a bit dated, the dialogue and visual gags of Borderlands 2 in particular are still hilarious today.
What is it that makes Borderlands not only fun, but also funny? There are at least three theories of humor. The first is ‘superiority theory’ — we laugh at the misfortune of others, which explains slapstick comedy. Second is ‘relief theory’ — laughter is a result of releasing pent-up nervous energy or tension. Third is ‘incongruity theory’ or incongruous juxtaposition — laughing with surprise after suddenly realising that something isn’t as it should be, as often occurs in jokes that involve word play.
While the Borderlands series features examples that fit each theory, the one that stands out is incongruity. The first two games are set on a planet called Pandora, a kind of Wild-West world in a post-apocalyptic Mad-Max future, a place where characters cope with death through black comedy (gallows humor). Pandora is populated by gangs of crazy ‘psychos’ that sometimes exhibit amusing behavior. In one side quest, the objective is simply to shoot a guy named ‘Face McShooty’ in the face. Such an act would be morally repugnant in the real world but, in a fantasy setting, the aim is so ridiculous that players find it funny. One potential explanation for why the goal — killing someone who wants to die — is amusing is because it’s a benign violation: a situation that, although immoral, is also relatively harmless, which provokes mixed emotions of simultaneous disgust and humor.
Science suggests that Borderlands fans might be smarter than the average gamer. According to one study, people who appreciate black humor also have high intelligence and low aggressiveness, possibly because the ability to enjoy such comedy involves processing complex information. Given that many fans are angry that the PC version of Borderlands 3 will be exclusive to the Epic Games Store, that sense of humor could come in handy.
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The initial Borderlands appeared a years earlier, followed by the renowned Borderlands 2 in2012 and (************* )Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel 2 years later on. Designer Transmission Software application has actually now stated the next video game in the series, the eagerly-awaited Borderlands 3, will lastly be launched13 September.
Why is everybody so fired up about the brand-new video game? Well, it’s partially since Borderlands is the archetype of a looter shooter, which includes role-playing video game (RPG) mechanics– significantly eliminating opponents that drop loot as a benefit– to the action of a first-person shooter (FPS). This mix, paired with the franchise’s humor, is what makes Borderlands enjoyable to play. Here’s the science behind it …
Among the primary reasons that individuals delight in playing computer game is they produce an immersive experience that makes you forget the world around you. According to user-experience designer Emily Brown and computer system researcher Paul Cairns, that has 3 levels: engagement, engrossment and overall immersion. Games can likewise draw gamers into a frame of mind called ‘circulation’, an idea established by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who explained circulation as “A state in which individuals are so associated with an activity that absolutely nothing else appears to matter; the experience is so pleasurable that individuals will continue to do it even at fantastic expense, for the large sake of doing it“
The circulation principle was influenced by observations of artists, artists and sports gamers, individuals who work finest while in the ‘The Zone’– a state of circulation. There’s no clear difference in between immersion and circulation, nevertheless, which recommends the 2 states may in fact be the exact same: circulation consists of 8 measurements, a lot of which overlap with immersion, such as a transformed understanding of time and satisfaction from stabilizing the difficulty of a job and an individual’s ability (an activity that’s too difficult causes stress and anxiety, whereas too simple result in monotony). Misplacing time and a pleasurable challenge-skill balance? That’s precisely what players experience.
First-person shooters like Borderlands appear to be specifically proficient at drawing individuals into a state of immersion or circulation. In a timeless research study(*************** ), scientists Lennart Nacke and Craig Lindley determined physiological reactions– from facial muscle motions and sweating (by means of electrical conductivity) in skin– of grownups playing the FPS Half-Life 2, then asked individuals to report their mental state. The outcomes revealed that individuals experienced higher favorable feelings and skin stimulation when playing levels that were immersive compared to uninteresting, and were much more delighted and fired up when playing levels created to provoke circulation. As Nacke discussed, the result is down to the hectic nature of FPS video games: “Computer game are basically about decision-making … First-person shooters put these jobs on speed. What may be a really basic choice if you have all the time in the world ends up being far more appealing and intricate when you need to do it flash.” To put it simply, numerous rounds of quick shooting will require you to focus on the video game.
Besides triggering a rush of the’ feel-good hormonal agent’ dopamine, FPS video games likewise benefit cognitive function. Over the past 15 years, psychologists Daphne Bavelier and C Shawn Green have actually discovered that playing action video games enhances a range of psychological abilities, such as making individuals much better at concentrating on visual information and changing in between jobs. And the response times of routine players are 10% faster without compromising precision under pressure. As Bavelier and Green summed up in ‘ The brain-boosting power of video games‘, “The gamer needs to choose whether a moving things is pal or enemy and select which weapon to utilize, where to intend and when to fire, all in the area of a 2nd approximately.” This relates to Borderlands, in which particular opponents are susceptible to harm from particular components (like fire) so gamers should rapidly change in between essential weapons.
With 17,750,000 weapons, the very first Borderlands was granted a Guinness world record for ‘the videogame that includes the most useable guns’. Transmission Software application joked that Borderlands 2 has “87 bazillion” weapons (the real figure is most likely 2.7 million) and as business president Randy Pitchford when stated, “There suffice where it does not matter.”
Such substantial numbers are possible thanks to an algorithm– a set of sensible directions– that arbitrarily creates each weapon on the fly by developing it from a range of parts (barrel, grip etc) according to a pre-programmed treatment This procedural generation provides various weapons– whatever from handguns and sniper rifles to shotguns and rocket launchers– different stats for things like damage, precision and fire rate. In Borderlands, a dead opponent can drop weapons, guards and other randomly-generated loot.