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电子游戏怀旧感心理分析编辑本段回目录

你们是否还记得Odysseus,这个来自2800年前古希腊戏剧《奥德赛》中的英雄。他也许比你所认为的《唐老鸭大冒险》,《杀手学堂》,或者较费解的《死亡打字员》等早前授权游戏的重新改造更切题。作为研究人员,Time Wildschut及其同事注意到在最近有关情感触发和功能的文章中,奥德赛所面临的严酷考验总被当成怀旧的典例。这一词本身是源自希腊语的“mostos”(回归)以及“algos”(受难)。在10年间,我们的希腊英雄遭受着乡愁之苦,他渴望回到原先的道路上。他想要回到妻子佩内洛普的身边,并重拾那些来自16位体时代且自己非常喜欢的游戏。

之后在17世纪,瑞士的内科医生同时也是新词的忠实粉丝创造了“怀旧”这一词,以此指代这种乡愁。他们看到了对于过去作为外国国王手下的瑞士雇佣兵的生活的怀念而引起的文字心理病。尽管他们能够指出怀旧作为一种精神状态,但是当时的心理学家们却不知道如何找出怀旧的根源,他们一直认为怀旧是由住在人类脑子里的小恶魔所引起的,或者是由大气压力的改变以及奶牛美女不断的喧闹所创造的。

幸运的是从那时以来我们已经取得了很大的进展,很少再有心理学家将小恶魔扯进来了。这点很好,因为如今引起怀旧的因素总是无处不在,从而才能够保持心理学家与市场营销专家的兴趣。今天,怀旧被定义为对过去的情感渴望,特别是关于如何将事情做得更好。在这点上电子游戏已经翻滚很久了,即总是能够鼓励人们去回想拂去墨盒上的灰层,摆弄HIMEM.SYS文件并用垫子盖住自己的28.8K调制解调器以防止家长听到他们在叫朋友玩《毁灭战士》的死亡竞赛的时期。

这对于开发者和发行商来说也是有影响的。对于每一款新出现的游戏授权,似乎还有其它两款是对于我们孩童时期非常受欢迎的内容的再发行。这甚至未考虑其它诱导怀旧情感商品的复兴,如PT漫步者(汽车),突出早前配方和包装的百事“Throwback”版,以及尼康的全新DSLR相机看起来就像是宅前旧货出售的商品。

这引出了一个问题:为什么我们会对童年时期的电子游戏和其它媒体产生怀旧感?过去的美好时光已经过去了,但是它们是否依旧那般美好或者我们是否能够通过玫瑰色的Occulus Rift显示器着眼于它们?心理学和消费者行为的研究者已经研究了这些问题,他们的发现也暗示着电子游戏具有比其它媒体更强大的诱导怀旧感的潜能。

Super-Mario-Bros.-1985(from-psychologyofgames)

Super-Mario-Bros.-1985(from-psychologyofgames)

但首先,让我们考虑情感的本质。怀旧感通常是基于苦乐参半的回忆,即伴随着对于输给时间的悔恨,所以研究者总是从一个简单的问题开始:怀旧是否是件好事?致力于研究怀旧感和消费者决策的科隆大学的Filliplo Cordan教授说道:“将自己沉浸在怀旧体验中能够带给我们许多利益。像与好友和家人一起享受愉快的独家时光便是一些常见的例子。这些体验的积极和社交本质便意味着它们能够扮演着一些重要的角色。”

处理压力和忧郁等情绪便是这些角色的作用之一。例如,当南安普敦大学的Tim Wildschut和Constantine Sedikides在研究参与者对于意义的回忆,并让他们写下怎样的体验或状态会让他们产生怀旧情绪时,他们发现悲伤是最频繁的触发元素。实际上,将某些人置于一个糟糕的情绪中会让他/她更容易感受到怀旧诱导因子,从而让他/她想起过去的一些宝贵回忆。怀旧似乎是悲伤与失落感的解药。它能够提升我们的情绪,并且其他研究中也发现经常出现怀旧情绪的人具有更高的自尊,更容易相信别人,并且比较不会感到沮丧。

所以为什么在听到《超级玛丽兄弟》的主题歌,或者看到任何早前街机游戏的元素能够在我们没办法回到之前的体验中帮助我们走出困境并鼓舞精神?这不只是关于某个地方或某件事。Cordaro继续说道:“基本上看来,回想起这些积极的过往将把我们带到一个更积极的情绪中。而如果从更复杂的层面分析,回想起这些体验能够让我们与别人拥有更强大的社交联系。我们已经做了许多研究着眼于怎样的人经常被描述成‘典型的怀旧体验’并发现这些经常会想起积极体验的人都是主角,不过他们旁边总是环绕着其他人并且他们也会与这些人进行互动。”

X-Com, 1994(from psychologyofgames)

X-Com, 1994(from psychologyofgames)

怀旧感与社交联系是并进的。想想如果缺少社交联系(就像怀旧经常让我们所做的那样)而推动着我们去思考如何修复这些联系,创造替代物,或维持当前的内容。Wildschut和他的同时也发现当被要求描述怀旧回忆时,大多数人都会想起社会情景以及与别人的良好关系。关于音乐作用的其他研究中也发现歌曲的旋律能够强调社交关系—-朋友,爱人和家人,而这是最有可能诱导出怀旧感的要素。你可能会回想起玩最初的《星际争霸》的时候,但最让你怀念的可能是在多人游戏中丢下好友或在共享体验中与其相互合作。对于游戏玩家来说,我们最大的怀旧记忆可能是围绕着与别人分享兴趣,在游戏中交朋友,以及享受相互合作的体验展开。

尽管社交联系并非怀旧感的唯一重要元素。它之所以具有如此大的心理分量是因为怀旧感与我们的身份以及维持我们当前和过去概念的一致性是相关联的。特别是当我们在形成性格时期思考我们在文化传统和体验中的角色时。哥伦比亚大学的教授Morris Holbrook及其同事Robert Schindler教授已经广泛地研究了这方面的怀旧感。Holbrook强调:“我们相信存在一个关键时期,类似于小鸡的铭记,在这期间我们将对任何频繁看到的对象形成强烈的偏爱,包括音乐,电影,名人,衣服风格,汽车设计等等。在不同的产品和消费者之间,时机可能是不同的,但我们的偏好更倾向于将自己附着在我们于20岁左右所遇到的事物。”

这是我们在塑造自己的身份并寻找谁能在我们需要快速的情感推动或提醒我们自己所引起为傲的事物时能够想起的人的时候的体验。我们可以通过回想假日的宴会或学校运动会而做到这点,但对于我们中的许多人来说,我们能够通过记起游戏历史上的特殊地标而创造出当前的自己与理想中的自己间的连续性。也许你是《网络创世纪》或《无尽的任务》的硬核玩家,因此你可以发现自己是大规模多人游戏的诞生的组成部分。也许你习惯于浏览像PlanetQuake或Stomped这样的开拓性游戏新闻网站,并觉得自己在支持着快速发展的游戏新闻领域。也许你害怕《战地3》这样的游戏,但有多少孩子会说他们记得将《沙漠风暴》的mod带到《战地1942》?在所有的这些情况中,我们都很喜欢通过过去的成就将当前的自己与整体情况连接在一起而享受心理上的刺激。

但这些记忆到底有多精确呢?实际上我们似乎总是会沉浸于那些能让自己觉得更好的游戏怀旧感,即不自觉地记起一些让我们感到开心的事而抵触记起那些不开心的事—-这就是所谓的“乐观主义”情境。在《新冰城传奇》中使用方格纸去创造我们自己的地图是否真的有趣?手动输入IP地址去连接《Quake》的死亡竞赛游戏是否比我们所记得的更痛苦?事实证明人类总是非常擅于愚弄自己。当所有信息与我们预想的心理状态相一致时,我们通常便不需要太多信息去证实自己的信念,大量研究也证实我们很容易记起生命中更多好事。

记忆风景中还有一点需要注意的是,正面记忆的情感足迹的消退速度总是慢于负面记忆,这便是所谓的“衰退影响偏差。”或者这也可能是糟糕的心理目标的一种情况。有些研究者宣称,一些看似老生常谈的深刻记忆都是些好的内容。Jason Leboe和Tamara Ansons的研究告诉我们,在回想过去的一些信息时,人们更倾向于捕捉“啊哈”的时刻。这只是大脑中的一种认知怪癖。研究者认为,我们倾向于错误地将乐趣归因于体验本身,而不是体验的简单回忆。尽管一些突出的体验显然是让人愉快的,但大脑中的偏见却导致我们错误地想起一些比实际上更正面的事件。

最后,尽管乐观的心态是对的,但它似乎有点离题了。Fillipo Cordaro说道:“我认为这是可适应的,并且作为推动怀旧体验的一部分能够让我们受益。通常当你处于一种正面体验中时,那么关于该体验的所有烦人的小怪癖以及让人受挫的元素都是显而易见的。但当这一体验逐渐变成回忆时,我们便会忘记任何烦人之事而只记住正面的内容。”这点是好的,因为怀旧的功能便是让我们变得更好且更开心。如果执意的无知是一种自我的幸福,这便是一种真正的幸福。

当然了,任何组织机构的市场营销部门的人也并未忽视这一点。就像之前所提到的,市场营销者总是会为了出售产品而想办法诱发我们的怀旧感,其中便包括电子游戏。一种常见的战术便是使用在过去很受欢迎的包装或音乐。Morris Holbrook说道:“这在不同产品和不同消费者间也存在区别,但我们倾向于在青春晚期,也就是20岁左右创造一种偏好顶峰。如果我们假设市场营销者正尝试着瞄准40岁与50岁的用户,那么分别利用存在于20世纪80年代与90年代的对象便是可行的。”

再一次地,这些市场营销之所以可行的一大原因也是对于社交联系的需求。《消费者研究杂志》最近发表了一系列测试这一理念的研究。致力于假设购买能够诱导怀旧感的产品将复原人们的归属感,研究者控制了参与者想要归属于一个社交群体的需求,然后测量他们对于现代vs复古饼干,汤,咸饼干,汽车,电影,电视和肥皂的偏好。他们发现让人们感到孤独不只会让他们更倾向于复古版本,同时还会诱导他们拆开年轻的时候很喜欢的饼干包装,并且吃下这些饼干便能够减少他们的孤独感。

这一切都在暗示着在有关电子游戏的相关研究案例中也是如此。如果怀旧与社交联系和集体感具有紧密的联系,那么游戏便比其它媒体更有潜能去唤醒更多情感,因为它们本身就具有社交性,并且这种社交性每一年都在增加着。早前的电子游戏可能只是发生在沙发或游乐场中的共享体验,就像电影或电视那样,但如今几乎每一款新游戏都突出了鼓励玩家分享,竞争,交流,互助与社交的机制或工具。对于许多游戏,如MMO或像《FarmVille》这样的社交游戏,人际关系便是其整体体验的核心。这是音乐,电影,电视,时尚,汽车,食物或任何其它常见的怀旧载体所做不到的。终有一天,电子游戏将比历史上的任何事物更有效地触动玩家的更多情感。

本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,作者:Jamie Madigan)

The Psychology of Video Game Nostalgia

Jamie Madigan

Remember Odysseus, the hero from the 2,800 year old Greek play The Odyssey? He may be more relevant than you think to all those reboots of old franchises like DuckTales: Remastered, Killer Instinct, or the otherwise inexplicable Typing of the Dead reboot. As the researchers Tim Wildschut and his colleagues note in a recent article about the triggers and function of the emotion, Odysseus’s ordeal is a good illustration of nostalgia as it was originally conceived. The word itself derives from the Greek words “nostos” (returning) and “algos” (suffering). For 10 years our Greek hero suffered a massive bout of nostalgia as he longed to return to the way things were. He wanted so badly to return to his wife Penelope and all his favorite games from the 16-bit generation that he turned down all kinds of offers from sexy sorceresses and a not very sexy cyclops to do so.

Much later in the 1600s, Swiss physicians and fans of neologism coined the term “nostalgia” in reference to this kind of homesickness. They saw the condition as a literal mental illness caused by yearnings for past lives on the part of Swiss mercenaries soldiering for foreign kings. But while they did good to put their finger on nostalgia as a mental state, these proto-psychologists of the day weren’t very good at figuring out the causes For years they thought nostalgia was caused by things such as little demons living in one’s head, changes in atmospheric pressure, or the incessant clamor of cow bells. No, seriously.

Fortunately we’ve come a long way since then and many fewer physicians think tiny demons are involved. This is good, because appeals to nostalgia are currently everywhere and remain of interest to both psychologists and marketing professionals. Today, nostalgia is generally defined as a sentimental longing for the past, especially in reference to how things used to be better. Video games have at this point been around long enough that it’s not uncommon to encounter people thinking back wistfully about the days of blowing the dust off cartridge contacts, fiddling with HIMEM.SYS files, and covering their 28.8K modem with a pillow so their parents didn’t hear them calling a friend to play some DOOM deathmatch.

This isn’t lost on developers and publishers. For every new gaming franchise that comes along, it seems there are two others that are just re-launches of old properties that were popular when we were kids. And that’s not even considering the resurrection in other nostalgia-inducing goods, such as the PT Cruiser automobile, “Throwback” versions of Pepsi featuring the original formula and packaging, and Nikon’s new DSLR camera that looks like something you’d find at a garage sale.

This begs the question, though: why do we get so nostalgic about video games and other media from our childhood? The good old days are certainly old at this point, but are they really still good or are we looking at them through a rose-colored Occulus Rift display? Researchers in psychology and consumer behavior have studied these questions, and what they’ve found out suggests that video games may have the potential to elicit more nostalgia than any other medium.

But first, let’s consider the nature of the emotion in question. Nostalgia is often experienced as bittersweet remembrance tinged with regret about things lost to the passage of time, so the place many researchers have chosen to start is the simple question: is nostalgia a good thing?” Immersing ourselves in nostalgic experiences can have many benefits for us,” says Dr. Filliplo Cordaro of the University of Cologne, who studies nostalgia and consumer decision-making. “Things like fun times with friends, and family vacations we remember fondly are common examples. The positive and social nature of these experiences means they can fulfill a few important roles.”

Coping with stress and melancholy may be one of these roles. For example, when Tim Wildschut and Constantine Sedikides from the University of Southampton had study participants think about meaningful memories and write what kinds of experiences or states made them feel nostalgic, they found that sadness was far and away the most frequently reported trigger. In fact, simply putting someone in a bad mood makes him or her more sensitive to nostalgia-inducing stimuli and make it easier to dredge up cherished memories about how things used to be. Nostalgia seems to act as an antidote to sadness and feelings of loss. It elevates our mood and other research has found that people who tend to get nostalgic easily tend to have higher self esteem, find it easy to trust others, and suffer from depression less.

So why does hearing the theme music of Super Mario Bros. or catching a whiff of something that smells like an old arcade bring us out of a funk and lift our spirits when we have no way to recapture the original experience? It’s not just about the place or the thing. “On a basic level, recalling these positive memories simply puts us in a more positive mood,” continues Cordaro. “On a more complex level, recalling these experiences makes us feel a stronger sense of social connectedness with others. We’ve done some research looking at what people usually describe as a ‘typical nostalgic experience’ and find that people typically think about positive experiences in which the self is the protagonist, but they are surrounded and interacting with close others.”

Nostalgia and social connections go hand-in-hand. Thinking about the loss of social connection (as nostalgia often makes us do) primes us to think about repairing those connections, establishing replacements, or maintaining current ones. Wildschut and his colleagues also found that when asked to describe nostalgic memories, most people recalled social contexts and good relationships with others. Other research on the power of music found that song lyrics emphasizing social relationships –friends, lovers, family– were most likely to induce nostalgia. We tend to star in our nostalgic memories, it seems, but we usually have a supporting cast. You may reminisce about playing the original Starcraft but chances are you’re most nostalgic thinking about throwing down with friends in multiplayer or at least bonding with them over the shared experience of how you each managed the single player campaign. For us gamers, our most nostalgic memories probably revolve around sharing the hobby with others, making new friends through gaming, and enjoying a good couch co-op experience.

Social connections aren’t the only important facet of nostalgia, though. A lot of its psychological weight is due to how nostalgia relates to our identity and maintaining congruity between our current and past concept of ourselves. This is especially true when we think about our role in cultural traditions and experiences during our formative years. Morris Holbrook, a Professor at Columbia University, and his colleague Professor Robert Schindler have studied this aspect of nostalgia extensively. Holbrook notes, “We believe that there is a critical period –analogous to imprinting in a baby chick– during which we tend to form strong preferences for whatever objects we frequently encounter – say, music, movies, celebrities, clothing styles, automobile designs, or whatever. The timing seems to differ a bit from one product and one consumer to another, but our peak preferences tend to attach themselves to things we encounter when we are in the neighborhood of twenty years old.”

It’s experiences during these periods when we are crafting our identities and finding out who we are that come to mind later in life when we need a quick emotional boost or a reminder of what we have to be proud of. This can be achieved by thinking back on holiday dinners or school functions, but for many of us we create continuity between our current and ideal selves by remembering the special landmarks in the history of gaming that we were part of. Maybe you were hardcore into Ultima Online or Everquest and thus can see yourself as part of the birth of massively multiplayer games. Maybe you used to read trailblazing gaming news sites like PlanetQuake or Stomped and can feel like you helped support the burgeoning field of games journalism. Maybe you’re terrible at Battlefield 3, but how many of those kids at the top that game can say that they remember getting the Desert Combat mod for Battlefield 1942 to work? In all cases, we enjoy a mental pick-me-up by connecting our current selves to the big picture through our accomplishments in the past.

But how accurate are those memories? The fact that we seem to engage in nostalgia about games specifically to make us feel better suggests that we may be unconsciously biased towards remembering things that make us happy and against remembering the things that don’t –the so-called “rose tinted glasses” phenomenon. Was using graph paper to make our own maps in The Bard’s Tale really fun? Was manually entering IP addresses to connect to vanilla deathmatch games of Quake more of a pain than we remember? It turns out that humans have a remarkable propensity towards fooling ourselves. We generally require less information to confirm beliefs when they are consistent with our desired state of mind and a substantial body of research has shown that we are predisposed to remember more of the good things in life.

An additional wrinkle in memory’s landscape is that the emotional footprints of positive memories tend to fade more slowly than those of negative ones –something known as the “fading affect bias.” Or it could all be a case of bad mental aim. Some researchers claim that vividly remembered events seem so great relative to the hum-drum of the present because simply remembering something feels good. Jason Leboe and Tamara Ansons reported on studies showing that people tend to have an “Ah-ha!” moment when experiencing easy recall of information, and that kind of moment is innately pleasurable. It’s just a cognitive quirk in the brain. What we tend to do, the researchers argued, is mistakenly attribute the pleasure not to the easy recall of the experience, but to the experience itself. While some stand-out experiences obviously were pleasurable, this kink in the human brain biases us towards erroneously remembering such events as more positive than they were.

In the end, though, the rose-colored glasses phenomenon may be beside the point even if it is true. “I would argue that it’s actually adaptive, and part of what gives nostalgic experiences so much benefit for us,” says Fillipo Cordaro. “Usually when you’re in the middle of a largely positive experience, all of the annoying little quirks and frustrating things about that experience are noticeable. But as that experience fades into memory, we forget about the minor annoyances and more vividly remember the positive aspects.” This is good and fine, since nostalgia’s function is to make us feel better and happier with ourselves. If willful ignorance is self-imposed bliss, it’s still bliss of a sort and that’s okay.

Of course, this hasn’t gone unnoticed by people in the Marketing branch of any given organizational chart. As mentioned above, marketers constantly appeal to our sense of nostalgia in order to sell us products, including video games. One common tactic is to use packaging or music that was popular during our formative years. “It varies a bit from product to product and from consumer to consumer,” says Morris Holbrook, “but we tend to form preference peaks somewhere in late adolescence –say, around twenty years old. If we assume that a marketer is trying to target 40 and 50-year-olds, then it might make sense to drawn on objects from the 1980s and 1990s respectively.”

Again, one reason this marketing works is related to a need for social connections. The Journal of Consumer Research recently published a series of studies that directly tested this idea. Working on the hypothesis that consumption of old, nostalgia-inducing products restores feelings of belongingness, the researchers manipulated participants’ need to belong to a social group and then measured their preference for contemporary vs. vintage cookies, soup, crackers, cars, movies, television, and soap. They found that making people feel lonely not only made them prefer the vintage versions, but letting subjects tear open a package of cookies that were popular in their youth and eat them actually decreased their feelings of loneliness.

The implications of all this is interesting to consider for the specific and relatively under-researched case of video games. If nostalgia is tied so closely to social connections and a sense of community, games have the potential to evoke more of that emotion than any other medium because they are so inherently social and are becoming more so every year. Early video games might have been shared experiences on the couch or playground in much the same way movies or television were, but almost every new game that will come out this year will feature mechanics or tools that encourage players to share, compete, communicate, help, and socialize. And for many games, like MMOs or social games like Farmville, the interpersonal relationship aspect is central to the entire experience. The same can’t be said of music, movies, television, fashion, cars, food, or any of the other common vessels of nostalgia. Video games will someday boost more moods and sell more arthritis cream than anything else in history.(source:psychologyofgames)


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