Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
design as they are in weather prediction. In game design, cause and effect
are hard to see, results can take years to become apparent, and so much
happens in the meantime that the memory of the prediction is confused,
modified, or forgotten. In a simple environment with clear feedback, our
instincts eventually lead us to distrust Confident Bob. But in modern
design challenges, the feedback isn't there. The safety valve is broken. So
the social bias in favor of the confident remains, while the safety valve of
results checking does not. The biases are out of balance.
Without efforts to counter this effect, a confident leader will gain more
followers than a correct one. Uncertainty gets hidden by bravado, and the
overplanning begins.
HinDsigHt Bias
Despite all the biases covered so far, one might think that we would even-
tually learn from our errors. There are developers who have gone through
10 overplanned projects in a row, experiencing the same painful feature
cuts, crunch time, and process chaos each time. Why don't we learn from
these experiences? Because of hindsight bias .
HINDSIGHT BIAS is a cognitive bias that silently rearranges memories
to make past events look like they were more predictable than they
actually were.
In 1972, researcher Baruch Fischoff asked people what might happen
during President Nixon's upcoming diplomatic trip to China. Will Nixon
meet with Chairman Mao? Will there be major diplomatic progress? He
asked for the likelihoods of these and 13 other outcomes.
After Nixon's trip, Fischoff again asked the same people to recall how
likely they thought the various outcomes would be. The hindsight bias was
clear. If someone's prediction had been correct, he said that he had been
surer than he actually was. If his prediction was wrong, he said that he had
been less sure. They edited their memories to make it look like they could
predict the future better than they actually did.
After the fact, game development always looks smoother and more
under control than it was. Our brains automatically edit the chaos of devel-
opment into a clean story of linear cause and effect. When we tell the story
to others, we simplify it even further. Time-wasting tangents, thoughtless
mistakes, ugly misunderstandings, and uneventful days of grinding work
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