In the 2011 issue of Game Studies focused on reward systems, Christopher Moore tackled the subject of achievements within Team Fortress 2 and, in particular, the game’s hats. If you’ve ever been compelled to learn more about the psychology, social theory, and economics of downloadable fedoras, read on.
While the nine character classes remain stable, the individual gamer can personalize their in-game persona through different combinations of class, hats and items. The affective intensity and shock value of the hat, before the conscious interpretation of the hat’s meaning, is anticipated and inscribed in the polygons of the character models. The character models have minimum density of detail at the feet, which increases towards the upper portions of the avatar bodies. The result is designed to encourage the movement of human eye upwards to the top of the character model (Mitchell et al 2007) where the character’s hat becomes a locus for the intensity of the experience and player persona that precedes the recognition and signification of the selection.