Episode 36: Feedback Loops w/Macabre Storytelling – Engineering Behavior

Phil, Steve, and Mac (Macabre Storytelling) talk about Men’s issues, addiction, video games, and veer off track as is typical of this show.

One definition: a series of repeated actions or emotional states that serves as the foundation for everything you do.

Wikipedia’s definition of completion loops: a habitual chain of activities that will be repeated by the user to cause them to continue the activity. Typically, this loop is designed to create a neurochemical reward in the user such as the release of dopamine.


  • Macabre Storytelling – Youtube Channel
  • Neil StraussThe Game
  • Episode 9: Design Thinking
  • Conceptual Model: a representation of a system. It consists of concepts used to help people know, understand, or simulate a subject the model represents. It is also a set of concepts. In contrast, physical models are physical objects, such as a toy model that may be assembled and made to work like the object it represents.
  • Black Pilled (Don’t hate me for linking to the incel wiki, it’s just the most direct explanation) – a philosophy that men’s dating problems require systemic rather than personal solutions, if a solution exists at all. It has emerged in opposition to the redpill movement which instead promotes self-improvement and various dating tricks.
  • Elden Ring: an action role-playing game developed by FromSoftware and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment.
  • Operant Conditioning: a type of associative learning process through which the strength of a behavior is modified by reinforcement or punishment. It is also a procedure that is used to bring about such learning.
    • Positive Punishment: Positive punishment is when you add a consequence to unwanted behavior. You do this to make it less appealing.
  • Gamification: the strategic attempt to enhance systems, services, organizations, and activities in order to create similar experiences to those experienced when playing games in order to motivate and engage users. This is generally accomplished through the application of game-design elements and game principles (dynamics and mechanics) in non-game contexts.
  • Podcast Episode Phil Referenced – Decoding the Gurus: This Episode 
  • Noble Savage: a literary stock character who embodies the concept of the indigene, outsider, wild human, an “other” who has not been “corrupted” by civilization, and therefore symbolizes humanity’s innate goodness. Besides appearing in many works of fiction and philosophy, the stereotype was also heavily employed in early anthropological works.
  • Hobbesian:  (Phil may be slightly off, he might have meant Malthusian)  In Leviathan, Hobbes set out his doctrine of the foundation of states and legitimate governments and creating an objective science of morality.[35] Much of the book is occupied with demonstrating the necessity of a strong central authority to avoid the evil of discord and civil war.
  • Grinding: the playing time spent doing repetitive tasks within a game to unlock a particular game item or to build the experience needed to progress smoothly through the game.
  • Process-oriented (adj): emphasizes or focuses on processes, systems, or procedures rather than results or underlying causes.
  • Roguelike (Game Genre): a subgenre of role-playing video games characterized by a dungeon crawl through procedurally generated levels, turn-based gameplay, grid-based movement, and permanent death of the player character. Most roguelikes are based on a high fantasy narrative, reflecting their influence from tabletop role playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons.
  • RNG (Random Number Generator): a process by which a sequence of numbers or symbols that cannot be reasonably predicted better than by random chance is generated. This means that the particular outcome sequence will contain some patterns detectable in hindsight but unpredictable to foresight.
  • Positive Feedback Loop (Game design): Winning begets further winning
  • Negative Feedback loop (Game design): Winning begets further difficulties
  • Souls-like (Game Genre): also known as Soulsborne, is a subgenre of action role-playing games known for high levels of difficulty and emphasis on environmental storytelling, inspired by the dark fantasy genre.
  • Konami: a Japanese entertainment conglomerate and video game company.  
  • Ninja Gaiden: a series of action video games by Tecmo featuring the ninja Ryu Hayabusa as its protagonist.
  • Move Set (game): The group of all attacks which can be used by a particular character or thing in a game, usually in the Fighting game genre. These are generally considered to be masterpieces and/or works of art by those who create them, and utter gibberish by those who do not. 
  • Telegraphing (Sports): to unintentionally alert an opponent to one’s immediate situation or intentions. 
  • Dopamine (Neutrotransmitter)
  • Warren Farrel: an American political scientist, activist, and author of seven books on men’s and women’s issues. Farrell has been described as the “father of the men’s movement.”
  • Men’s Rights (movement; often disparaged): The MRM in particular consists of a variety of groups and individuals who focus on general social issues and specific government services which adversely impact, or in some cases structurally discriminate against, men and boys. Common topics discussed within the men’s rights movement include family law (such as child custody, alimony and marital property distribution), reproduction, suicides, domestic violence against men, circumcision, education, conscription, social safety nets, and health policies. The men’s rights movement branched off from the men’s liberation movement in the early 1970s, with both groups comprising a part of the larger men’s movement.
  • Men’s Lib (Movement): a social movement critical of the restraints which society imposes on men. Men’s liberation activists are generally sympathetic to feminist standpoints.
    • The men’s liberation movement is not to be confused with different movements such as the men’s rights movement in which some argue that modern feminism has gone too far and additional attention should be placed on men’s rights. The men’s liberation movement stresses the costs of some negative portions of “traditional” masculinity, whereas the men’s rights movement is largely about unequal or unfair treatment of men by modern institutions because of, or in spite of those traits ubiquitous to traditional masculinity. The men’s liberation movement also aims to liberate men from stereotypes and their attitudes that prevent them from expressing their emotions.
  • Phil mentioned the history of Nintendo choosing the boy’s toy aisle. It’s a bit more complicated than that. But for a brief overview, Adam Ruins Everything (S01E09) has an episode on it. Here’s a clip (though not directly relevant).
  • Escape from FreedomErich Fromm
  • Positive Freedom: possession of the power and resources to act upon one’s free will in the context of the broader society which places limitations on a person’s ability to act.
  • Negative Freedom:  freedom from interference by other people. Negative liberty is primarily concerned with freedom from external restraint and contrasts with positive liberty (the possession of the power and resources to fulfil one’s own potential).
  • PragerU: Right-wing propaganda outlet on youtube, often targeting children, with shoddy research. Not linking on purpose.
  • Boots Theory: A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while a poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
  • Slay the Spire (Roguelike Game)
  • Eustress: means beneficial stress—either psychological, physical (e.g., exercise), or biochemical/radiological (hormesis).
  • Concepts Episode 33 – Memes

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