Extra Credits is a fantastic game design web series that is released on the web comic, Penny Arcade's website every Wednesday, under the "PATV" section. Basically, each episode is an essay on game design, written by James Portnow (a professor of game design at DigiPen: Institute of Technology) and spoken to its viewers by Daniel Floyd. To complement the spoken words, artwork is also provided for the show by Elisa Scaldaferri and Scott DeWitt (and until recently, Allison Theus, who works as an artist for the beloved Retro Studios). Episodes range from about six to ten minutes in length, but even in that short time frame almost every installment manages to be a very insightful and very in-depth study on its particular topic.
Today's episode, entitled "The JP Penny's Effect" is all about loot mechanics, specifically in MMORPGs. It centers around the difference in the psychological effects between an RPG loot system based upon gathering components and using them to craft items, versus a loot system based upon gear drops. The episode's title comes from an extremely honest and "good" marketing strategy employed by the clothing chain store, JC Penney, which backfired due to its high level of honesty. As Floyd explains, the circumstance is actually surprisingly relatable to the aforementioned loot dichotomy in MMORPGs, and I highly recommend you watch it.
Extra Credits: "The JC Penny's Effect" is an eye-opening examination of a common RPG trope. Check it out after the jump!