I finished reading The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz yesterday. While reading, I couldn't stop thinking about the decision paralysis that I often get when deciding what game to play next. Most of the time I finish I game, I proceed to spend HOURS over multiple days deliberating over what to play next. I agonize over choosing the game that will be the MOST fun. I browse metacritic, read reviews, watch longplays. In short, I'm a "maximizer."
Contrast this with "satisficers." Satisficers don't try to find the *perfect* choice, they just try to find the *good enough* choice. They have standards, but once they find an option that satisfies those standards, they stop searching and choose that option.
I learned from the book that satisficers are happier people who are more satisfied with their choices. Schwartz cites numerous studies that confirm this. This is because maximizers, even if their research leads to a "better" choice, are less satisfied with it due to opportunity cost, regret, the agony of deciding, second guessing themselves. The more options they look at, the more unique, positive qualities they see in each option. Each option may be the best at one of their criteria, but no choice will be the best at all of them. So whatever they choose, maximizers can't help but notice how their choice lacks the traits that made their other choices so enticing. They usually end up disappointed due to this and other reasons (high expectations and hedonic adaptation to name a few).
For example, let's I'm trying to decide what to play next, and I'm considering:
Dark Souls RemasteredDevil May Cry 5Animal Crossing: New HorizonsFinal Fantasy VII RemakeRed Dead Redemption 2Uncharted 4The WitnessOverwatchDeath StrandingResident Evil 2
Some of those games shine because of their story. Some of them shine because of their RPG progression. Some of them shine because of their competitiveness. Some of them shine because of their action combat. Some of them shine because of their challenge. Some of them shine because they're scary. And so on.
Let's say I spend my many hours deliberating and I choose to go with Final Fantasy VII Remake. I start playing it and I'm enjoying it, but I have lingering questions. What if this story isn't as good as Red Dead's? What if this combat isn't good as Dark Souls'? What is this world isn't as compelling as Death Stranding? Maybe I should have picked one of those games. Combine this with the hedonic adaptation that comes along with anything you enjoy, and I may end up more disappointed than someone who chose a lesser game after doing less research. (For the record this is purely hypothetical – I LOVED Final Fantasy VII Remake).
Maximizers are plagued by these questions. Whereas a satisficer's thought process is either "I am having fun; I shall continue playing and having fun" or "I am not having fun; I shall stop playing" (your mileage may vary on how long you keep giving a game a chance).
So the main thing I learned from the book is I want to be more of a satisficer.
The other big thing I learned that helps is limiting your number of choices. Choosing from 10 options in my hypothetical scenario is just begging for decision paralysis. Find some way of narrowing down your choices before entering the research stage. Whether you can weed out games based on game length, price, or genre, do that first. Try to narrow it down to just 2 or 3 games.
Also, limit the amount of time you spend in the research phase. Schwartz cites studies that show the more time spent in the research stage, the less satisfied people are with their choices.
TL;DR Be a satisficer, not a maximizer and limit the number of games you're choosing between.
So, do you think this is accurate or off-base? Are you a maximizer or a satisficer? Do you have an ideal method of choosing your next game?
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