Putting the Pieces Together
I'm thinking about games. The specific pieces I'm reconciling are:
- My feeling about certain pointless game-like activities that I wrote about HERE. I said in part, "Humans like to do things that make them feel as though they are accomplishing something. Note the "feel as though" well, as we don't need actually to accomplish anything, just to feel that we do. That's an exploitable trait, as it turns out - and exploitable in a big way.
FaceBook is absolutely chock full of pointless dig-a-hole-then-fill-it-in applications that - wait! DO have a point. All those micropayments add up to big bucks for the app developers. It's an uneven trade that I find rather sinister - coopting billions of hours of real human energy to create a programmer's robot army, in a way. Yes, it's the person's choice, but I'm not interested in one person, but in the way this plays out in general.
To be addictive the dig-a-hole-then-fill-it-in ungame* has to have a "moving up" scenario, be time-based, involve sharing and gifts, and have rewards for line-toeing. To get to the point where people will voluntarily invest small amounts of money, the app has to be formed in such a way that they will invest hours of their time, a precious commodity that should be used elsewhere. Better to plant a real seed, read to your child, or if you are at work, do your job.
A dig-a-hole-then-fill-it-in app can become too obviously addictive, at which point the host may cut it off at the roots. My friend Con was so involved in one (Farmville?) that one day she was contemplating rushing home because her apricots needed harvesting or something - and decided instead to stop playing entirely.
I'm wondering what effect this energy siphoning-off will have on the world. There's the slight chance the applications offer in play form the aggregation of far-flung individuals, the effect of which, once realised and used for real purposes, may be key to the resolution of my no-them-only-us theory. Dunno."
- The idea of the "game layer" that Seth Priebatsch talks about in the post below this one, which can harness human activity for useful as well as pointless activities.
- The old saw that billionaires regard money as a way to keep score. (My pater used to say that anyone could be rich if they wanted to devote all their time and energy to the accumulation of money, which of course he didn't, being entirely obsessed with quite different things.)
The little problem, I suppose, is to identify something that works for the greater good (in a small way) and build a gameframework around it. Examples in the Game Layer presentation are games to help people take their pills or to motivate children to learn (my only experience with education was in the Native American community at a school that is unique in the world; children were both neglected and spoiled and education had no consistent value in the society, so I always wondered if it would just be more productive to pay the children to go to school and learn hah).
Update: You know, this is very sinister in the way it not only trains people to follow the rules but gives them to believe that having a million rules and being happy about it is normal - but then I'm more than a hundred years old. This must be the way to the Singularity.
This is sort of freeform play versus rules, in a way. I don't follow anything, and am resplendent in my isolation, however even *I* have noticed there are apps making your personal list of things to do into a game with levels and rewards. Does EVERYTHING need to be organised into a game? Are people *that* in need of the comfort a rules structure brings? I come from a far-off time and I feel I am watching humanity coalesce into One, which is likely a good thing given especially how I've always felt we crave oneness/togetherness/relief from isolation, but still odd to me.
posted by - 10:38 AM