Friday, April 08, 2005

More Learning

Great. Now I've started THINKING about it, and feeling like I have to put more down about it. Go ahead and skip this one, it's just talking about the crossover between memes and games.

A meme, whether it is Darth Vader in a Tutu (I love that example) or Intelligent Creation exists solely in the minds of humans. Memes spread by anchoring themselves in the mind of a human who wasn't, until then, infected.

Saying we don't know how they do this is not quite correct. Given than virtually every theory has been postulated, I guess one of them is probably correct. One thing we do know, however, is that a meme tends to be MORE successful if it offers advantages.

Many memes offer only social advantages. For example, geeking out over Star Wars arguably has no 'real' value, but it establishes you as part of a fairly powerful phenominon.

Many memes, however, are accepted because of their ability to 'explain' how the universe 'works' - they give you the straightforward advantage of knowing what is going to happen in a given situation. Unfortunately, the human mind is not known for its rigorous testing. But that said, it does tend to weight memes on how well they perform. Of course, many of these explanation memes are really social memes... but the idea is the same: they offer an advantage.

When a meme is presented to you, you usually judge its usefulness - predict its performance. For example, when a teacher teaches you economics, you tend to judge the underlying principles by (A) if you think they work and (B) if you think they'll help you. Such a dry meme rarely if ever is considered for its SOCIAL value.

Now, lets put this in a game. A game can be made to do ANYTHING. I can simulate that things get more valuable with less scarcity. Obviously, this meme wouldn't make it past the various gatekeeper memes - it's too outrageously stupid. Until you start to think about it. No, I think I COULD make a game that does that 'realistically'. But anyhow...

How about a game that uses logical purchasing? It's unlikely that anyone who hasn't studied economics will be able to tell that logical purchasing is downright wrong. We're playing this game... and the meme is proving EXTREMELY useful. I mean, it runs the game. Furthermore, if it's a GOOD game, there's a SOCIAL element to its value - although I would be hard-pressed to make this particular example socially useful.

I've seen people swayed by 'data'. The soft and flat-out WRONG data of any science influenced by politics, for example. Like the idea that second-hand smoke mysteriously DOESN'T cause harm to you. Studies don't show it does, so it doesn't! Like recycling paper being GOOD for the environment, because bleaches, acids, and coagulents are far better for the environment than cutting down trees you've grown specifically for the purpose. There are a million examples. Dihydrogen Monoxide is found in cancers and in acid rain. We need to ban it.

In games, you get that data in CRACK form. It's injected directly under your skin. GAMES SPREAD MEMES.

Don't believe me? Just look at the memes they spread through people who AREN'T EVEN PLAYING THEM. Sure, these are over-reacting gatekeeper memes trying to shut games down, but they're reacting to the power games have.

Look how much power to move memes MOVIES have. Games can do everything movies can, plus provide the interactivity which lets you fully grok how the meme 'works'.

Games have all this power to spread memes, but they are largely ignored because the memes they are spreading aren't usually snide quotes. They're procedures. Ways of life. And, yes, I know they're iconic, and I'm not suggesting that there is any kind of direct transfer. But games have been teaching us IMpatience and direct action since I've been a kid. Those are, perhaps, my two most notable attributes, and I share them with ALMOST EVERY GAMER, whether they are ten or forty.

Now imagine the power games will have when they are given to students by The Government and The Scientists, and told that these games are True.

1 comment:

Darren Torpey said...

Your point here is actually well made, I'd say, especially for a first-cut.

Part of the problem with "trusting" educators, as you mentioned earlier, seems to be that most teacher won't know how to properly use games to aid their classes.
Just what the "right" ways to use games are is a great question, and certainly one of great interest to many of us...