Tuesday 29 May 2012

Deferred Gratification


If you struggle with deferred gratification; have a distraction ready to go.  When a windfall occurs, use your distraction.

In WoW, it had been a long time since I needed to work at deferred gratification, having a routine that provides enough gold to buy a shiny I want.

In Eve, not having enough ISK, I become explicitly aware of it again,  I can have either of two wanted upgrades now, spending most of my ISK; or I can wait a week, and be able to afford both with ISK left over.  Of course by then I am likely to have found a new shiny

An example of deferred gratification in Eve?  

  • You have just finished a storyline mission and you get a new implant.  
  • Using it will improve one of your better stats by 1 (say from 24 to 25 or about 4%).  
  • You are cash poor at the moment, and need 3 times your current ISK for that shiny ship/book/upgrade, that will make you 10% better off at your preferred activity.  
  • Selling the implant will double your current cash balance.

Do you:
  1. Satisfy the craving for the instant reward (use the implant)?
  2. Sell the implant to a buy order for 1/2 its value?
  3. Place a sell order for (close to) its full value?
I have left the exact numbers of ISK and balance out; the same example applies if you are a newbie working on your first L1 implant (40k ISK) or an older hand working on your L5 (120M ISK) implants.

I have known lots of MMO players who would always go for  (1) : Use the implant.  They were always poor.  Unfortunately very few of them would read this (or any other gold/ISK making) blog.

Most of the wealthier players I know would do (3) : Place a sell order for it's full value.  There is discussion (often flame wars) about whether the full value is average value, 1 ISK undercut or somewhere between the current buy and sell orders; but that is largely irrelevant.  Instinctively wealthy players sell windfalls for 'full value.

The experiment

The trick is deferred gratification, and comes easily to some and seems impossible to others.  I was reading a study about kids and marshmallows; A child is asked:
  • to sit down in front of a variety of food treats, and asked what one they like best
  • The child will be left in a room with the preferred treat (in the example marshmallows)
  • The child is told that if the marshmallow is there when the researcher comes back - then the child will be given two marshmallows.
A follow up on these kids showed that for the few that could successfully wait 15 minutes for the second marshmallow, had higher SAT scores, and generally were more successful than kids that only waited 30 seconds.

At the time, psychologists assumed that children’s ability to wait depended on how badly they wanted the marshmallow. But it soon became obvious that every child craved the extra treat. What, then, determined self-control? ... the crucial skill was the “strategic allocation of attention.” Instead of getting obsessed with the marshmallow ... the patient children distracted themselves by covering their eyes, pretending to play hide-and-seek underneath the desk, or singing songs from “Sesame Street.” Their desire wasn’t defeated—it was merely forgotten. “If you’re thinking about the marshmallow and how delicious it is, then you’re going to eat it,” ... “The key is to avoid thinking about it in the first place.” 


If you struggle with deferred gratification; have a goal (or even distraction) ready. 
When a windfall (eg implant a little better than you have) occurs use this to get the better prize.

For me, while I am still farming standing: I will allow myself to equip the second of any give implant I get, using sell orders for the first.  My distraction is 'get more ISK for trading'.  I want the implant, but by doing this I get the benefit of the additional ISK for market trades when I need it, and will still have an implant 'soon'.

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