Lately I’ve been playing a LOT of Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard’s competitive, online game. After one match I noticed something suggesting that someone at Blizzard may be reading this website and taking notes.1 Specifically because of this image, which appears in the after match report screen:
If you can’t read it, it says “Great job! You dealt 23,639 Hero Damage, 63.9% more than similar players’ average of 14,421.9.”
This is something I’ve written and lectured about before in terms of the psychology of competition in video games. Social Comparison Theory argues that information about our performance on some task (such as playing a Heroes of the Storm match) is of little value in isolation. I inflicted 23,639 points of Hero Damage. Is that good? Bad? Average? I have no idea. In such cases people seek out other people to compare themselves against. The more similar that person is, the better. So knowing how much Hero Damage I racked up isn’t what makes me feel good or motivated to improve. It’s knowing how much that is relative to other people like me.
That’s why the Heroes of the Storm team was clever to insert that second bit of information: “more than similar players’ average of 13,321.9.” It makes the information useful and allows me to leave the match with some positive feedback and warm fuzzies.