The First Level Is Always Free

If you’ve been wondering why the productivity of Dr. Tar has been a bit spotty lately, it’s because about two weeks ago I started playing Guns Up!

Published by Sony, its a free-to-play shoot’em up where you build your own base, create and develop an army, then attack other players or defend yourself from those bastards. While working your way up the levels and unlocking “perks,” “special units” and expansions,  you can try to not pay a dime and grind it out to the best stuff or you can plunk down some money and purchase those goodies that make the game so much more enjoyable.

Everyone’s favorite Libertarian Canadian, Stefan Molyneux, discussed the ethicacy of creating such video games today with someone who works in the industry. While admitting these games are designed to maximize a player’s dopamine levels and appeal to addictive personalities (I can quit any time. I just want to make it through level 31 first), the two Libertarians believe that for a responsible adult, it’s not the creator’s fault if you can’t control yourself.  Watch

18 Comments on The First Level Is Always Free

  1. @Dr. Tar – Are you suggesting that in the case of these games it is not OK to make your product as appealing as possible to your customers, but it is OK for all other producers of goods and services to do so? Should chocolate producers make their goods less tasty? Clothing producers use clashing colors? Home cleaning services use Fart-in-a-Can spray instead of Febreze?




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  2. Dr. TAR. Step away from the computer. Go get yourself a real gun and buy some steel reactive targets. The “Ping” the steel makes will release more dopamine than any video game.




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  3. Nah Unky Al, this all goes back to that Star Wars Bettlefront game. The deal is they made this game that had “loot boxes”. Lil’ boxes of junk you couldn’t open without paying extra. A sort of “micro transaction”. People were pissed. You don’t buy a car and then pay extra for the engine. Also…there was something about encouraging gambling in kids since you never knew what was in the boxes… then a bunch of other crap….

    I dunno’, its a fuggin’ vidya game.




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  4. bait-&-switch …. classic technique …. they hook you w/ the ‘free’ & then ‘give’ you upgrades ’cause, after all, the people that are kicking your butt are getting the upgrades!
    … it’s a freakin’ arm’s race I tell ya! 😉




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  5. It’s false advertising about the true cost.

    Like Rent-A-Centers charging you $3000+ for a $400 tv because they broke it out into $25 easy weekly payments for three years.

    It’s a deceptive business practice. Under 18 kids cannot enter into a financial contract or get a credit card can they?

    Seems like the FTC would have something to say here.




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  6. @Uncle Al, I was demonstrating by my own behavior how easy it is for someone with an obsessive personality to get sucked into a form of entertainment that is specifically designed to be addictive. This was also asserted recently about Facebook.

    I’m not taking a position one way or another, I place this post as a discussion for our time. Is society served when fellow citizens set out to exploit addictive personality in yet another way?

    Perhaps those who know that they can be obsessive need to figure out how to turn that personality trait in to perseverance and focus on productive pursuits, like posting interesting material to iOTW, rather than hours of clicking and staring at a computer screen shooting and blowing up pixel soldiers.




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  7. Computers are for information, meatspace is for playing. This is one reason there are some many unskilled fat fucks roaming the land.




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  8. I was gonna buy an xboxS just for Star Wars. Yeah, WUZ.

    Go play Roblox, hella lot more fun and you only pay what you want. I recommed Zombie Rush.😜




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  9. These “free” games just use the same techniques that casino’s have been using for decades. It’s about the only way they can make money. Just stay away from them or buy a game that doesn’t rely in in play upgrades and you know what it’s going to cost upfront.




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  10. thanks for the clarification Dr. Tar … it’s a sucker’s game … as practically all internet ‘apps’




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  11. This is why I wait for a game to go on sale and then buy it. Those ‘free-to-play games are a headache and not worth sinkin’ my teeth into.
    If I want to play a tactical war game I just pop my valkyrie chronicles into the ps4 and it’s all good and I don’t have to pay anything except for the initial purchase. ;b




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  12. Gosh. Aren’t alcohol, cigarettes, and heterosexual intercourse also designed to be addictive? Is what we’re really saying here is that we can keep the old addictive stuff yet we can’t invent any new addictive stuff?

    Maybe there is nothing inherently rawng with anything that is designed to be addictive? Maybe the true root cause is one’s inability to throttle one’s own addiction impulses and not the addictive nature of the thing itself? Maybe, just maybe, we should let people spend their own money however they want to as well as shoulder any responsibilities they’ve earned while engaging those activities?

    BTW, if I wasn’t such a diehard gamer as a kid, I wouldn’t have found any interest in computers, which would never have led to a lifetime of tax revenue generating lucrative employment.




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