The Placebo Effect increases gaming experiences because users believe something new is something better

The Placebo Effect is when a subject is given a fake treatment or a false piece of information about something. This makes it so the subject's experience increases in a positive outcome, all the while being fooled by their own mind. In this study the Placebo effect is incorporated into a video game. Paul Cairns and Alena Denisova asked 21 people to play two rounds of Don’t Starve, a game where players must collect objects using a map in order to survive. One group used a map that was randomly generated. The second group was told the map would be controlled by an “adaptive AI” that could change the map based on the players skill. 

The results showed how gullible the gamers were. In group 2 it appeared to have increased their confidence in how AI helped them perform. The experiments showed how people’s expectations play an important role in their gaming experiences. The article remarks that the placebo doesn’t even have to be a intricate feature like AI, and that the influence could be just as strong if the gamer were just using the latest version of a game. Expectations show that if something is new or more advanced from before then it must be better.

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