Jun 11

Game Dynamics & Fly Fishing, Part 2

So, I recently did a post about how fly fishing has innate game dynamics and I thought I’d expand on that theme.

One of the most common game dynamics is… (via TechCrunch)

1. Achievement

Definition: A virtual or physical representation of having accomplished something. These are often viewed as rewards in and of themselves.

Example: a badge, a level, a reward, points, really anything defined as a reward can be a reward.

and another is…

31. Pride

Definition: the feeling of ownership and joy at an accomplishment

Example: I have ten badges. I own them. They are mine. There are many like them, but these are mine. Hooray.

Now, we don’t get an actual badge for our milestones, but I’d bet most anglers have a pretty good list of them in their heads.

A first 20 fish day. A 40 fish day.  A fish caught on your own fly.  A species list.  A location list (states or countries). Number of rods. Number of reels. Number of waders you’ve worn through. Our pictures are our badges. The wear and tear on our boots are our badges. The space our rods take up in the garage are badges.

These are our trophies. They clutter up our mental trophy cases and depending on how humble you are, you might dust them off and put them on display… maybe overtly, maybe in more subtle ways.

Someone who has a conversation where they mention… “When I was fishing in Belize…” and then “The thing with Russian Atlantic Salmon…” and then “Of the twelve Able reels I’ve owned, I always felt that the main strength was…”  That person is showing off their trophy case, or their foursquare badges.

If it is too explicit we, as anglers, tend to get a little bit upset.  I don’t know exactly why.  We don’t like braggarts much, while we probably are ourselves braggarts without meaning to be.

It is a driver… it is human nature.  If the fly fishing industry had figured this out and really managed to put it implicitly into the sport in a way that wouldn’t make us barf, the industry would probably be in a much stronger position (even if it might have different people in it).

So… those are just some thoughts.

By the way… did I ever tell you about the time I fished in BC and caught an 18 pound buck steelhead on a skating dry fly?


Jun 11

Game Mechanics and Fly Fishing

So, I wouldn’t have know this if I hadn’t started a job at a software startup recently, but it turns out game mechanics are all the rage.  I don’t mean game mechanics in games, I mean the mechanics of games applied to products or life.

It recently occurred to me that fly fishing has a bunch of very, very compelling game mechanics inherent in it.  Let me explain.

A game I’ve played a bit (although not recently) is Fall Out.  I was pretty much addicted to Fallout 3.  In the game the character starts off with a bat and a BB gun and is shooting things like giant cockroaches.  You are pretty weak at that point and this is actually a challenge.  As you master each weapon and grow in strength something strange happens.  Your opposition gets stronger and stronger.  You get bigger guns and the monsters get bigger and bigger.  As you get stronger you end up finding more difficult challenges.  If you got stronger and more powerful and the opposition stayed weak… well… it wouldn’t be much fun.  That the game keeps pace with you is vital to the game continuing to be fun.

You can draw a pretty clear comparison to fly fishing.  You start off just hoping not to hook yourself.  Then you catch one.  Then you catch a few.  Then you become the master of your little creek or pond and you try bigger waters.  Those bigger waters are tough and you start learning them and once you have mastered them, you start looking to find other species.  Maybe you move from trout to bass to stripers and then you go find some bonefish somewhere and then you start thinking about tarpon and once you’ve landed a 100 pounder you start thinking about permit and then you start looking at flat spring creeks or Mongolian taiman or whatever.

There is always some bit of growth to be had, always some challenge that will actually be a challenge for you.  You are never done, you are just on a path.

If you rocked your little creek and never ventured beyond it, it would lose its appeal.  You’d get tired of it.  You’d move on.  You’d take up golf.

Right now… I’m kind of stuck on the bonefish part.  There’s enough to keep me busy there for a long, long time.

photo credit - Andrew Bennett