Game Development Reference
unpleasant. The response is often to hide the uncertainty by engaging in
therapeutic planning .
THERAPUTIC PLANNING is planning done not to coordinate work, but to
make us feel better about our inevitably uncertain future.
A plan can take away the anxiety of being unsure by creating a false
sense of certainty about the future. But as the philosopher Nassim Taleb
says, if you want to relax, have a drink, don't make a forecast—reckless
forecasting is far more dangerous.
Not overplanning means accepting the cognitive stress of uncertainty.
It means constantly reevaluating the situation, not socking decisions away
where they can be comfortably forgotten. The desire to avoid this mental
effort often leads to therapeutic overplanning.
gRouP Planning Bias
Groups of people naturally reward the overconfident over the rationally
Imagine two people, Confident Bob and Rational Alice, in a group trying
to predict the weather. Rational Alice looks at the sky and accurately re-
members that of all the times she has seen this combination of weather
conditions, it has rained about half the time.
“I really have no idea if it is going to rain or not,” she says. “We can't
really know either way.”
Now Confident Bob steps in. He looks up briefly, smiles as though
enjoying a private joke. He turns to the group and announces, with strong
eye contact and a decisive hand gesture, “It's not going to rain. Don't worry
The group naturally chooses Bob. Bob gets the followers, the approval,
and the social status. Alice is called weak, stupid, indecisive, or lazy, even
though her answer was more accurate.
This is the group planning bias. People are naturally drawn to leaders
who seem to see into the future with great certainty, even when that future
sight is delusional.
The safety valve for this effect is when it does actually rain and Bob is
proven wrong. Once this happens a few times, people will stop listening
to him. But these kinds of consequences aren't nearly as clear in game
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