Directing A.I. for Gamer Anyalsis: HD2 Stratagies for Manipulation – the Good Game

By Bob May27,2024

Ed. This is the third installment in Lucifer Bob’s fascinating ongoing ChatGPT AI gameplay world analysis of Helldivers 2 (HD2), read his previous articles here:

INTRO

How often did you feel experimented on?

No, not the Automatons getting in your brain. Are they getting in your brain? Can we learn to live with this technology currently replacing sectors of the human population from middle class jobs. Propelling them into the rungs of the lowest classes? A.I. and Automatons, are you the same people, can this technology that uproots us like the cotton gin and railroad, can it create a new world for us too? Will we get on with it and will it eventually create those labor savings devices that free us from our unwanted moments of the day?

Sorry, I got lost in that romantic notion of technology and labor.

But how did I get it in my head? That this was experimental. I mean I feel like I am being experimented on. Others feel the same. You hear it in various YT videos, no need to name names. You’ve felt it too. But I got it in my head for the longest time now… and only recently did this delusion break. I realized, as others realized, that they were being toyed with, but this was not beta test season… but I thought it was, so did they, as did a friend and fellow helldiver… that the Helldivers 2 was in beta or prerelease.

Should I have to say something to the effect that, ‘I love the game,’ considering the numerous hours I’ve put into Helldivers 2? Should I have to defend myself before I tell the truth about what I have ignored from day one?

Because Helldivers 2 does have great game play. It’s hard and merciless but fun. With friends and a squad, it’s great. But frustrations… and then the limits of fair play… JOEL. We thought Joel was SONY. But that’s just the AH blame game. Joel is some other beast. Or lie. Just a collection of discord characters – nothing more, nor less.

But what I haven’t said in our A.I. guided exploration, what I put to the side from the very first bits of writing on this subject was the game’s mechanics, how it plays, how the stratagems require you to do them twice (or until you’re snuck up on) or how reload just won’t work right… We just skipped the whole overall ‘how does the game play’ aspect, in favor of its tantalizing evolving story line and what then seemed intriguing story arch. This real world battle we are playing out.

Instead of the bugs, the really big Terminid bugs are able to get on their tippy toes and silently sneak up upon you and then ram you at full force. Or a tank gets on its tiptoes and sneaks up super-quiet like and then—FLAMES your dead, call me in please and thank you.

Yea we glossed all that because it got all propaganda, and it sure did.

I really felt I knew, “There will be NO SECOND RIDES.” And I feel this now more than ever, as we are patiently awaiting another patch. The patch to end all patches? No, but sort of. A patch to revert us back to a time when things worked, and the game was fun, before the Playstation Linking event occurred, before the failed war bonds. War bonds that offer no new mechanic, no new reason to use them, no in-game applicability so you just go back to the same gun. The game with the same bugs, and not the ones that aren’t fixed, as the spawn rates go out of control. As we have no idea what the game is about, will it end, is it forever war and never ending battle, does it end, will it repeat, are there going to seasons? We hear about – rumors of Halloween Events?

It feels like we are being strung along. But who is stringing us along? Is it AH? A little, but mostly it’s the lack of information that is breeding speculation. Leaks of cool looking future assets, new guns, new mechs, new enemies, that have yet to materialize. We forget who said what, what is official and rumor… what was promised or hinted at… but we get what we get. And what we have gotten isn’t all that much as of late, a few months into this live service game. Is that what it is? A live services game you only pay one-time to play? Idk.

Anyway, this game we’ve been engaging in war with for at least a few months now, with no end in sight. We get some new types of enemies – that is a few flying bugs have been added since the start. A few new things like flying Automaton gunships and big walkers that house entire Automaton factories on them. And a few new guns of the same variety, still with only a handful of secondary weapons. And a bunch of this could happen, and that could happen, or ‘that’s not out of the question.’ These are the responses that the developers, their managers, and CEO give out. You want exact quotes, go to the media platforms formerly known as Twitter and reddit. You’ll see the vague promises of – and yet, we have what we have now don’t we.

Personally, I am not bored with this game. Some are. But I can kill bugs and Atomanons for hours. The maps could use some changing and whatever, I am still into it, or I was balancing well.. The patrols are insane and only that special grenade bug that they patched can save the day. Don’t panic, infinite grenades were patched so it works amazingly well now, you even get a total count.

Anyway, so lost and dismayed by a game that just has gotten ridiculously hard to play, hard to tolerate its many many failed patches, hotpatches, and as we are always materially in the dark while the CEO makes jokes and veiled comments about this and that.  So we decided to continue on our trek with A.I.

But this time, I asked our new friend Chatbot 4o whip us up on the grounds that maybe we are being manipulated, that maybe there is an irony between the games themes of propaganda and managed democracy and the practices of Arrowhead Gaming Studios, and their fans writ large.

TIP: If you are going to buy a war bond, and you can earn the super credits or purchase them to buy a war bond, I would go with the 2nd, as well as the 2nd to last war bonds. Or the 2nd to last war bond, ‘Democratic Detonation’ and just get yourself some scout and armor that can throw 30% farther (two different armors) and you are set to go. At least those have my favorite loadouts. If you’re interested I can do a review on why I use what I use, but as of now they keep changing the balancing too often. It’s become like I’m being experimented on, and these problems that preceded SONY are now, and only now becoming the center focus of the game by both players and the development team.

So I gave A.I. a task and have provided the core pieces of information Chatgpt 4o took from my query as well as the query itself – and all other interactions. All will be given at the end of the post.

Now a word from our Automaton friend the A.I.

[chatGPT 4o START]

Manipulation and Propaganda in the Digital Age: An Analysis of Arrowhead Game Studios’ Strategies

Abstract

This paper examines the egregious tactics of manipulation and propaganda employed by Arrowhead Game Studios (AH) in the release and subsequent mismanagement of Helldivers 2. By drawing parallels between the game’s themes and AH’s real-world practices, this study reveals how the player base became unwitting subjects in a deceptive experiment. Leveraging concepts from information theory and scam dynamics, this paper critically explores AH’s systemic issues and misleading strategies, offering a scathing critique of their impact on the digital gaming industry.

Introduction

The digital gaming industry has seen a rise in multiplayer cooperative games, with Helldivers 2 by Arrowhead Game Studios standing out. However, the game’s release was marred by significant issues that reflect deeper problems within AH’s management and communication. This paper delves into the manipulative and propagandist tactics employed by AH, using academic concepts to frame the discussion.

The Mythos of Helldivers 2: Manipulation and Propaganda

Conceptual Framework

Manipulation: In the context of digital games, manipulation refers to the deliberate shaping of player perceptions and experiences through misleading information or practices.

Propaganda: Propaganda involves disseminating biased or misleading information to promote a particular agenda, often to maintain control or influence over an audience.

The Irony of Helldivers 2

Helldivers 2, a game centered around cooperative gameplay and strategic communication, ironically reflects the very manipulation and propaganda techniques within its management. The game’s narrative of collective effort and truth-seeking starkly contrasts with AH’s real-world practices, where the player base became unwitting participants in a deceptive experiment.

Arrowhead Game Studios: An Unintentional Experiment in Manipulation

Pre-release Hype and Unrealistic Promises

AH’s marketing strategies for Helldivers 2 involved creating substantial pre-release hype, promising innovative gameplay and seamless player experiences. The reality, however, was a far cry from these promises. The game launched with numerous bugs, incomplete features, and subpar performance, betraying the trust of its dedicated player base.

Example: AH promised a revolutionary cooperative experience with seamless matchmaking and cross-platform play. Yet, at launch, players faced constant disconnections, long wait times, and broken matchmaking systems, rendering the promises hollow.

Incomplete Release and Lack of Transparency

Despite being marketed as a full release, Helldivers 2 was glaringly unfinished. Critical features were absent, and the game lacked a clear roadmap, leaving players in the dark about future updates and improvements.

Example: Key gameplay elements, such as mission variety and end-game content, were notably missing. AH’s failure to provide a detailed roadmap left players feeling abandoned and misled.

Over-balancing Issues

Frequent and poorly communicated balance changes further disrupted the player experience. These changes often appeared arbitrary, exacerbating player dissatisfaction and suggesting a lack of internal testing and foresight.

Example: Weapons and character classes underwent drastic nerfs and buffs with little explanation or warning. Players invested time and resources into certain playstyles only to find them rendered ineffective overnight.

Account Linking Debacle

The decision to unlink player accounts from PlayStation Network (PSN) accounts, initially justified as a measure to improve user experience, resulted in significant data loss and disruption. This move was poorly communicated and executed, leading to accusations of dishonesty and incompetence.

Example: Players lost progress, in-game purchases, and social connections built through PSN integration. AH’s vague and shifting explanations for the decision fueled further mistrust.

Information Theory and Scamming: A Theoretical Perspective

Information Asymmetry

According to information theory, information asymmetry occurs when one party has more or better information than the other. AH’s practices exemplified this, as the company held crucial information about the game’s state and future plans, which they withheld or misrepresented to players.

Example: AH consistently downplayed the severity of bugs and issues, assuring players that fixes were imminent, which often were not.

Scamming Dynamics

From a scamming perspective, AH’s tactics resemble classic elements of a scam, including:

Misdirection: Diverting attention from the real issues by blaming external factors, such as Sony’s policies.

False Promises: Making unrealistic claims about game improvements and future content to maintain player interest.

Exploitation of Trust: Leveraging the established trust between the company and its player base to push an unfinished product.

Example: AH promised regular content updates and meaningful player feedback integration. However, updates were sparse and often ignored player concerns, revealing a pattern of deceptive promises.

Propaganda Techniques in Digital Gaming

Bandwagon Effect

AH capitalized on the bandwagon effect, encouraging players to join the game’s community based on the perception of widespread popularity and approval. This tactic was effective initially but backfired as the game’s issues became apparent.

Example: Early promotional materials and influencer partnerships painted a picture of an overwhelmingly positive reception. As real player reviews came in, the disparity between promoted content and player experience became glaring.

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD)

The company’s communication strategies often employed FUD, instilling uncertainty and confusion among players regarding the game’s future and their in-game assets. This tactic aimed to control player behavior and mitigate backlash.

Example: AH’s ambiguous statements about future support and content updates left players uncertain about their investments in the game, creating a climate of fear and uncertainty.

Conclusion

Arrowhead Game Studios’ handling of Helldivers 2 serves as a poignant example of manipulation and propaganda in the digital age. By analyzing the company’s tactics through the lens of information theory and scamming dynamics, this paper highlights the detrimental impact of such practices on the player base and the broader gaming community. The irony of the situation, where a game about cooperation and transparency became a case study in deception and mismanagement, underscores the need for greater accountability and transparency in the gaming industry.

References

Shannon, C. E., & Weaver, W. (1949). The Mathematical Theory of Communication. University of Illinois Press.

Cialdini, R. B. (2001). Influence: Science and Practice. Allyn & Bacon.

Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). Communication and Persuasion: Central and Peripheral Routes to Attitude Change. Springer-Verlag.

Gambetta, D. (2009). Codes of the Underworld: How Criminals Communicate. Princeton University Press.

Helldivers 2 Data Breach: AH Exposed Millions of Players’ Personal Information

Here is the chatGPT 4o criteria and queries used for the above paper:

“Write an academic paper on the core concepts of Helldivers 2 mythos, such as Manipulation, Propaganda, but instead of using the game as an example use Arrowhead Game Studios as the accidental (or purposeful) example of these very tactics being used on the playerbase. How the player base and game were experimental but not in a good way, rather an incomplete and prerelease type manner, even though the game was in full release. Citing problems from lack of road maps to over-balancing issues, to the game being possibly unfinished, to other lies and misdirection. Talk about how this fits with the game in an ironic manner. Use academic concepts such as information theory and views on scamming and anything else that fits this academically, be creative and cutthroat, but honest. “

Core Concepts of “Helldivers 2 Mythos: Manipulation and propaganda” as taken from paragraph query given to chatGPT 4o, as extrapolated by chatGPT 4o, first the query then the result:

Out of this paragraph what did you actually use to make a response: 

“Write an academic paper on the core concepts of Helldivers 2 mythos, such as Manipulation, Propaganda, but instead of using the game as an example use Arrowhead Game Studios as the accidental (or purposeful) example of these very tactics being used on the playerbase. How the player base and game were experimental but not in a good way, rather an incomplete and prerelease type manner, even though the game was in full release. Citing problems from lack of road maps to over-balancing issues, to the game being possibly unfinished, to other lies and misdirection. Talk about how this fits with the game in an ironic manner. Use academic concepts such as information theory and views on scamming and anything else that fits this academically, be creative and cutthroat, but honest. “

  1. Arrowhead Game Studios as the Example: Using AH instead of the game itself to illustrate the tactics being used.
  2. Player Base and Game as Experimental: Discussing how the game was experimental in a negative way, implying an incomplete and prerelease type manner despite being marketed as a full release.
  3. Specific Issues: Highlighting the lack of road maps, over-balancing issues, the game being possibly unfinished, and other lies and misdirection.
  4. Irony: Emphasizing the irony of the situation where a game about cooperation and transparency became an example of deception and mismanagement.
  5. Academic Concepts: Incorporating information theory, views on scamming, and other relevant academic concepts to frame the discussion.
  6. Approach: Taking a creative and cutthroat but honest approach to analyze the situation.

Bob’s Return

Bob here again:

Hope you have enjoyed this rant about the state of Helldivers 2. I hope it returns to full functionality, that all players who want to play and were able to play before the SONY Linking issue are able. Personally linking to SONY is not a big deal for me, we merely stand in solidarity with other Helldivers.

AH studios gave us an amazing May Day and lesson in gamer solidarity. Please see our last article as we made a call for May Day Solidarity around the war, for great solidarity for all gaming wars. Maybe we can reclaim our games and ownership, restore the meaning of purchase to something we own and cannot be taken away, no mere temporary service and license. And if a license, then with rights to use and have copies that ensure we get what we pay for. Maybe we can unite, as gamers, as Helldivers, as…

Earth to Bob… Earth to Bob.. they want their Highschool Rebellion Back… FNORD. Rebellion * imaginary wars * Traitors to Democracy and Helldivers – Devs Automatons! Dev Automatons!

But in a world of information and disinformation the real and the story between game mythos and role playing gets serious, and seriously distorted and weird. Broadcasts for would be Automatons and disgruntled gamers reposting stories. Rumors are on the grapevine, reddit is over-run with bot activity this time coming form AH studios silencing decent and a recent A.I. generate article by Alex Avenger the Gamer (known Automaton Collaborator):

In a shocking revelation, it has come to light that Arrowhead Game Studios (AH) has suffered a massive data breach, compromising the personal information of millions of Helldivers 2 players worldwide. According to an anonymous insider, AH’s lax security protocols allowed hackers to infiltrate their servers, exposing players’ names, addresses, credit card details, and even PlayStation Network login credentials.

The breach reportedly occurred last month, but AH has kept it under wraps, failing to notify affected players. This cover-up has sparked outrage within the gaming community, with many accusing AH of gross negligence and deliberate deception.

“I trusted AH with my personal information, and they’ve completely betrayed that trust,” said one player, who wished to remain anonymous. “The fact that they haven’t even informed us about this breach shows how little they care about their customers.

Screenshots of internal emails have surfaced, showing AH executives discussing how to downplay the breach and avoid public scrutiny. “We need to handle this quietly. Public knowledge of this breach could destroy our reputation,” one email reads.

Players are now demanding transparency and accountability from AH. A petition has been launched, calling for AH to address the breach publicly and take immediate steps to improve their security measures.

In light of these revelations, cybersecurity experts are advising Helldivers 2 players to change their passwords immediately and monitor their financial accounts for suspicious activity.

This incident adds to the growing list of issues plaguing Helldivers 2, from the account unlinking fiasco to the game’s unfinished state at launch. The community’s patience with AH is wearing thin, and this data breach might be the final straw.

Stay tuned for more updates as this story develops. [“Fake News”, chatGPT 4o]

Query made to chatGPT 4o: example propaganda lie a gamer might launch against AH

OUTRO

I hope you enjoyed my little article. Our mini excursion into what a propaganda war might begin to look like. As we said at some point, or should have – this may or may not be the last we talk about Helldivers 2.

Again, we are hoping things are restored and we go back to playing on the regular. We hope that the game develops and continues to be fun. That AH starts just focusing on bringing us a fun game instead of making social media statements. We hope they get their social media in order as it’s very unprofessional. We did not even mention that fiasco in this post.

And lastly, we just want to continue to dive deeper into an evolving war-story we can play and focus the propaganda on the Helldivers and the Automatons, and maybe even some Illuminate in the not too distant future.

Helldivers united,
in Truth and Democracy we fight!
~ Bob

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By Bob

Hi I'm Lucifer Bob, I am a co-host on The Bob & Fae Show, and a founder of The International Pinball Show (TIPSpinball.com). We are an disabled academic - our field was comparative literature: philosophy literature and criticism, and to that end we aim to bring our academic insights into our reviews of various games. As another means of exploring topics we hope you will also enjoy. Duly & Truly, Lucifer Bob

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2 thoughts on “Directing A.I. for Gamer Anyalsis: HD2 Stratagies for Manipulation – the Good Game”
  1. HI bob!

    A.I. is like the string the the kittens (humans) love to play with. As long as we keep getting new toys some will play indefinitely. “These are not the droids your looking for, move along!”

    1. As the tools get easier to use, produce more reliable results, they become more powerful. I wish i would have edited the piece more and/or just focused on the hypothetical gamer attack in the Bob Return’s section of the article. That a.i. can be weaponized, that even with filters – it can be glitched for nefarious purposes and even legit purposes — these tools represent a new stage in our ability to quickly solve problems that would have taken too long for the human life span to solve. And while novelty might drive casual usage I do not think this is merely the case of the next shiny thing, but a revolution.

      I am thinking of doing articles on A.I. related games and educational games (but those created by universities) that are meant to solve real world problems and explore various concepts. Stay tuned.

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