Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Thought, Play, and 3D

Bill over at Everkvetch posted an interesting bit of commentary talking about how mathematicians and scientists tend to think graphically - via imaginary 3D spatial relationships - as they work on their theories.

I know I do this. I didn't realize how prevalent it was. All my theories - even the ones about social interactions and play preferences - rely heavily on two or three dimensional graphics playing out in my head. So, I guess they're really three-four dimensions, since time is invariably part of it.

What Bill is interested in, because of his teaching bent, is how PLAY relates to this. He appears to have the kernel of a thought which says "people have been getting steadily smarter and smarter, IQ-wise, in countries with video games. Are these two things related? Can I take it to the next level?"

My favorite kind of game has always vacillated (ooh, big word. Wonder if I spelled it right.) between RPGs and 'shmups' - Gradius-like shooters. As I posted earlier, my preference in play is specifically vector games. The reason I like RPGs is because of the evolving story - the play itself is often (usually) painfully dull. I have no interest in maximizing efficiency.

But I don't just like ANY vector games. I don't much care for pure racing games, for example, because they aren't about vector calculation. They're about maximizing efficiency and memorization. After all, the view is one which is not nearly as conducive to vector calculations.

The calculations on a shmup are more my cup of tea - multiple vectors, all visible, all needing to be calculated. I'm quite good at this, and it is the most fun kind of play to me.

I would think - I would HOPE - that this is related to the vector graphs and images I construct in my head for my various theories. The question is: would becoming better at the GAME make one better at the THEORIZING?

I'm sure that other play types might be more closely related. For example, a game like The Incredible Machine (another of my favorites) more closely resembles my thought process. Perhaps that is the sort of game that needs to be considered, rather than a shmup?

Either way, I don't know how you could test this 'think 3D for SCIENCE!' stuff. After all, just by repeatedly testing your scientific theorizing skills, you'll get better at them.

But, hey, if it's an excuse to play my favorite kind of games...

Edit: I just thought of a way to get corroboration. If spatial thought and video games are inextricably linked, then countries which have had video games for less time should prefer LESS COMPLEX GAMES (as regards these kinds of calculations).

1 comment:

Craig Perko said...

There was a good comment by Bill of Everkvetch here. A slight confusion with HaloScan has erased it. Sorry, Bill!