Do you get bored and frustrated waiting for a biolab capture to go through along with 100 other players? (normally vs 1 happy little enemy farming for all he is worth), or do you rush into an exposed position to attempt to revive a fallen random player knowing you are likely to be killed yourself (guilty!) or do you laugh with glee when you have the popular sunderer racking up the xp for you (50 spawns = 1 kill btw). If so you are being manipulated by the xp system.
XP is the reward and in many cases the primary reason for playing
It is the reason you spend 10 minutes staring at nothing in a biolab, or rushing out into an exposed position to revive a fallen character or get that kill before anyone else. This is because you get a visible and audible cue telling you that “you have done a good thing”, in the same way that a dog is taught to do tricks, so we are conditioned into a behavioral pattern.
The audio cue is in my opinion the most powerful it is almost subliminal in its approach, a familiar “ching” sound which has long been used in gaming to represent something good. From collecting coins in Mario and even racking up points on a pinball machine most games include a similar audible cue that you are doing a good thing, so the higher the frequency of the “ching” the more positive reinforcement the player is given This often manifests itself in sunderer kills when several enemies are killed at once, then reinforced by group kill bonus (ching) kill streak bonus (ching) etc, though it is also very obvious when a spawn sunderer is deployed.
These in the grand scheme of things grant very little points (as mentioned previously 50 spawns (more than a full platoon!) = 1 kill worth of xp) though they are highly prized and often result in a race to be the first deployed sunderer (placement be damned) or even team killing friendly sunderers to deploy your own.
Ammo both Sunderer based and floor based are good examples fo these aswell and the regular ching acts as a reminder (and pat on the head) to drop your ammo like a good boy, an action which may otherwise be forgotten about by players in the heat of battle.
The text is more obvious, big numbers are better, hence people are more willing to wait for that big score despite not having any fun and probably being able to rack up more points by moving. in this instance it is the guaranteed nature of the points that are appealing (and a very exploitable aspect for us)
It is also widely observed in suicidal tactics vs vehicles, especially sunderer C4 / mining. It is not out of a desire to further the teams goals that this behaviour is adopted (The xp reward system actually promotes a selfish approach to the game), but for a desire to score BIG numbers and hopefully lots of them at once.
Conversely actions with no xp gain are almost unused radar flashes being a prime example. A radar flash is a very good example I have been using them with my squad extensively and they are really quite overpowered, though the lack of direct xp reward keeps them a somewhat rare sight in general.
It is a farm mentality that causes a great deal of this behavior, but it is all predictable and for the vast majority intended by the developers to keep you playing the way you are “supposed to”. Alerts are a great example of this, a flat 20% xp boost and everyone groups together on the same continent to the almost total exclusion of all else.
Another example of this is “surface to air xp” which was introduced to increase the desirability of pulling a Burster MAX or other anti air device to deter what was at the time a significant rocket-pod and liberator problem without having to further nerf those vehicles and weapons According to some this may have been more succesful than intended though it is always more difficult to remove a reward without backlash.
In short, the xp system encourages zerg behavior and risk taking especially when pickings are thin, everyone will rush headlong into one target. in hopes of being the lucky one to score those points.
Using this to our advantage
Playing without paying attention to xp is a play style which many people claim to follow, but I think few actually do. Not being driven to perform an action by the promise of a reward is however a good habit to get into and by diverting focus towards the team and away from the individual xp reward should in the long run increase squad successes (and probably xp)
Taking the biolab as an example, though this can be transferred to any facility, we can be sure that the vast majority of attackers will remain to wait out the cap. This gives us the opportunity to either fall back with ample time to make a defence at the next base or push forward to prevent the enemy from doing the same and “pave the way” for our own zerg.
conversely the defenders are likely to continue to spawn (and be farmed) until the opportunity is taken away from them as they are still lured by that area being the highest potential for an xp increase. Once the base falls however they will fall back to the next base in the link under the same reasoning to continue the fight as quickly as possible. They will then hopefully be greeted by a well motivated squad who will prevent them from mounting an effective defence.