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Fluency in Dragon | The Psychology of Video Video games

Don’t hearken to Wizards of the Coast. Title your subsequent dragon Steve.

I say this after studying thumbing by way of one in every of Wizards of the Coast’s new Dungeons & Dragons role-playing recreation rulebooks, Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons. It’s, you will have in all probability accurately guessed by now, all about dragons –their lairs, their hordes, their minions, their personalities, and much extra. It’s neat, particularly if you wish to run a D&D marketing campaign with loads of dragons and dragon-adjacent creatures. Besides that one part entitled “Tips on how to Title Your Dragon” received a bit of little bit of fundamental psychology fallacious and could lead on you down a ruinous path.

Effectively, perhaps not ruinous. Annoying. Barely annoying. Permit me to clarify.

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On web page 34 of Fizban’s there’s a desk known as “Dragon Title Parts.” It’s a type of tables the place you may roll to randomly generate one thing. On this case, you may generate random dragon names by rolling two or thrice to get a set of “draconic morphemes” which you can smush collectively into a reputation. Right here, let me seize a d20 and let’s do it now:

Lham…Gaul…Saryx. Lhamgaulsaryx. Or perhaps let’s sprinkle some apostrophes in there like recent floor pepper and name it Lham’gaul’saryx. Different examples from the Fizban’s rulebook embody “Ingeloakastimizilian, Imavernarhro, and Okay’rshinthintl.

Okay, these sound fairly spectacular, however no. It is a unhealthy strategy to naming a dragon, your character, a fantastical location, or the rest. Due to one thing psychologists name the fluency impact.

One pervasive decision-making shortcut that our puny mortal minds actually like to make use of is “if it’s simple to mentally course of or recall from reminiscence, it’s in all probability good or true, and if not it’s in all probability unhealthy or unfaithful.” Typically this little psychological shortcut is appropriate, and so it persists regardless of not being all the time appropriate. When you perceive this, you may see it present up in every single place. Songs in commercials nudge us in direction of favoring merchandise as a result of pairing data with a jingle or rhyme makes it simpler to encode in reminiscence and recall. Repetition makes one thing simpler to recollect, so we could finally consider a lie when it’s repeated sufficient. And if issues are simpler for us to pronounce, we like them extra and assume higher of them. This final impact is sometimes called “fluency.” 

Cowl artwork for Fizban’s, that includes Carl vs. Samantha.

One pair of researchers, for instance, did an experiment taking a look at firm names listed on the New York Inventory Alternate between 1990 and 2004. They hypothesized that since figuring out the worth of an organization is such a massively troublesome job, the fluency of the corporate’s inventory market ticker would possibly exert some affect. Buyers really feel higher about fluent symbols like “KAR” relative to others like “RDO,” and that feeling bleeds over, unconsciously, to their analysis of the inventory. Certainly, firms with extra fluent names did higher. The researchers level out that an funding within the ten most shares with probably the most fluent names would earn an 11 % return, whereas the ten most disfluently named shares would solely get you 4 %. 

The place I’m going with that is that in the event you title a dragon “Lham’gaul’saryx” persons are in all probability going to overlook about it and never assume a lot of it as a result of it triggers the “troublesome to course of = unhealthy” psychological shortcut. Similar factor together with your character names. And certainly, an in depth studying of the textual content surrounding that desk in Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons the authors acknowledge this level. They are saying:

When naming a dragon, take no matter strategy appeals to you. However keep in mind that dragons want memorable names, and in case your gamers have hassle saying a reputation, it’s prone to be rapidly forgotten –or jokingly abbreviated.

Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons, pg 33

Which is appropriate. So simply title your dragon “Steve” and be accomplished with it.

1. Alter, A., Oppenheimer D. (2006). Predicting short-term inventory fluctuations by utilizing processing fluency. Proceedings of the Nationwide Academy of Sciences, 1034, 9369-9372.
2. And sure, I can hear a few of you saying “What about Drizzt Do’Urden?” however I nonetheless assume that character turned well-liked regardless of the title, not due to it. To not point out repetition.


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