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Will Game design shape the future of our entire world ?

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Willxi
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Joined: 03/25/2015

Hello everybody,
I'm duplicating here a very interesting post that I started on another forum, I hope our thinking will interest some of you and that your inputs will nurture the thought process .
Here is a link to the original post, but you can participate here and i'll be happy to respond :
http://boardgamegeek.com/forum/1530031/boardgamegeek/design-theory

First and foremost I'll introduce myself, my name is William, i'm American but only by birth right, my English is not perfect since I've always lived in France, now i'm 25 and entering the real world so i have 0 experience in game design but I have a good amount of knowledge on it.

I want everybody reading this to understand that you might possibly get offended by what comes next, but if you read it whole and don't start judging before understanding maybe you and me will stay in contact for some time.

I feel like a lot of you have an unconditional love for games in a broad sense, but maybe also a lot of you never wondered if games isn't just shortening the pleasures of life, simplifying them, making them easy to achieve in a 90mn time-frame.

I've been mourning for years my dying love of games, feeling betrayed by my favorite thing in life. You can't deny me the fact that gamers get a whole lot more of the " i don't understand you " look that any other consumer market segment. Maybe I've understood why .... or maybe i only have my own explanation and at least it can help you think to your own.

Games makes you better .... that's it in a nutshell, the better the game, the better the player, if your brain has grown with a habit of " treating" a certain amount of problems daily you'll end up with a faster working machine than someone that never questions himself or is never put in a complicated situation.

A faster working machine yeah .... but is it really better ? Because if your machine is fast, damn fast, but you're only making it roar at it's full potential when it's in a pitiful, 4 players, copy of life ..... Then i'm not sure anymore.

But i still love games, i try not to love them but i do ! They do make me better, they do make me learn anything 100 times faster than any boring stressed not happily married with a strong complex of inferiority teacher that is trying to tell me how to succeed in life.

Succeed in life .... that's it ? One day i just fell on my ass and wondered, maybe my problem is that i wan't to win, like in every game, i want to play, enjoy, laught, and win, but not in any other game that the one of life, sure it's a shit load more complicated, but a whole lot more gratifying, at least for me.

That very very long message had two purpose, first i wanted only the persons with time to share to read the end, and second i wanted to give a glimpse of my persona.

I'm looking for the oldest, most experienced, shrewdest, angriest or loneliest game designer that would be interested in having some hours of casual discussion with me.

I hope we would have a very fruitful conversation.

For all the others , that red until the end but don't feel like talking in private with me, feel free to answer in this forum i'm glad to respond to anybody interested in conversing.

Thanks a lot for your time.
W.B.

Edit N°1 :

In an attemp to simplify new readers experience, I'll try to resume the thought preocesses, the ideas, the questions and the remarks that went on the first 2 pages of this post :

The first solutions that was proposed was to learn more about Gamification, I've been studying the concept for years now and I'm trying ot prevent this post to shift on another gamification topic. If you love games and don't know what gamification is, you should check it out and I think you would find some interesting material to nurture your mind.

Then I tried (unsuccessfully) to make someone react about the possible flaw(s) of the question in the title of this post.

From there we tried to reflect on the simplest but most accurate definition of a Game in the broad sense, we pointed out various caracteristics : they rely on loops, they are learning catalysts, they involves dozens of dynamics and they bless the player with skills in a large array of domains, competition, construction, exploration, socialization, critical thinking, problem solving etc.

I proposed a first condensed definition that is still waiting to be upgraded :
" A game is any kind of activity simplifying one aspect of life to both make this aspect understandable, and accelerate the mental growth of the player about this aspect "

It's deceivingly a very complex definition and i spent a lot of time defending it.

A very interesting person pointed out that the focus of this post is turn toward the history of games rather than the entirety of what gaming is today and i completely agree as i think that one of the focus is to understand where/when/why/if the gaming industry went wrong.
He also made a beautiful remark that i think we have to always keep in mind : " I understand that games in animals and originally in hominins was and is a set of simplified adult mimicking behaviors that allowed juveniles to prepare for adult life"

Most opponent to my definition found it restrictive because is doesn't clearly say anything about games being fun. My mains arguments are :

Games are NOT funny or pleasurable things in essence, sex is pleasurable in essence, so is eating or sleeping, playing is not, playing a game you like is pleasurable, that's where i draw the line.

On the other hand it's clear that a game that is not enjoyable by anyone couldn't really be called a game. But their is a very slight implicit detail that take this into account in my definition, that's why i talk about " accelerated growth", because growth or simulated growth in a field of interest will always result in your brain in a positive feedback.

Later on another interesting person asked this simple question :
"If gaming makes you better - what does game design do to you??"

I responded :
Gaming makes you better, game designing is a way to be a teacher !

The next participant add some issues with my image of a mind performing " Faster" and described a very precise lists of elements that were transformed in him by games but he didn't feel it made him faster.
I Clarified with : Games "evolved" you in a large array of various field, making your brain a " faster machine " in those fields.

After that we ended on the fascinating topic of Extrinsic VS Intrinsic rewards in game and how balancing them impact the experience. Understanding this concept is very important to fully grasp the whole thought process.

A remark to also keep in mind : "there are things that are universally enjoyable ! And so mixing with some other secret ingredients it gives life to a game."

Finaly Josiah made a connection with the dialogue between reductionism and holism. Both very interesting concepts that i was glad to be introduces to and worth checking out.

We agreed on keeping the general thinking process a reductionist process without forgetting about the holistic points of views.

To use reductionists language : we're trying to indentify the fundamental phenomena that defines games, to better understand the epiphenomenas thats happens from them and maybe better understand this industry, its strong points, and its weaknesses.

We then ended up talking about the dangers of beeing a designers, like orienting too much the experience, and the example of chess forced me to wonder then: To what extent are rules enought to make a game ? another interesting question where i would love some more development.

That's it for this first update. Thanks to everybody that stepped-up and gave his/her opinion.

Soulfinger
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Willxi wrote:I feel like a

Willxi wrote:
I feel like a lot of you have an unconditional love for games in a broad sense, but maybe also a lot of you never wondered if games isn't just shortening the pleasures of life, simplifying them, making them easy to achieve in a 90mn time-frame.

Nope. For me, board games are a facilitator of pleasure, like a cup of coffee is to a lengthy conversation or a bed is to sex. In my thirties, social gatherings require a catalyst to schedule around. Games give my friends and me an excuse to step away from our "adult" lives, and unlike getting together to watch a movie, we don't end up fall down drunk within an hour. In my relative solitude, the games that I collect represent the potential for that sort of social life. They are a bonding experience with my son. The pleasure of life is spending face-to-face time with family or friends whom I've known for over twenty years.

Willxi wrote:
I've been mourning for years my dying love of games, feeling betrayed by my favorite thing in life. You can't deny me the fact that gamers get a whole lot more of the " i don't understand you " look that any other consumer market segment. Maybe I've understood why .... or maybe i only have my own explanation and at least it can help you think to your own.

I do deny that, at least as far as the United States is concerned. Google the Jack Chic pamphlet, "Dangerous Dungeons." That's where the perception of D&D was when I started playing. Now, it is mainstream. The average person has a shot at knowing what an orc is. Polyhedrons aren't called "funny dice." Big box retailers are selling titles by Fantasy Flight, Z-Man, and Steve Jackson alongside Risk and Monopoly. Characters on popular television shows are playing Settlers of Catan, D&D, and Zombicide. The "gamer-type" high schoolers I know have players in their group who would have been the exact sort to mock gamers when I was their age. I'm so comfortable in my geek skin that I feel justified on looking down on lesser geeks as weirdos for their interest in cosplay or My Little Pony.

Willxi wrote:
Games makes you better .... that's it in a nutshell, the better the game, the better the player, if your brain has grown with a habit of " treating" a certain amount of problems daily you'll end up with a faster working machine than someone that never questions himself or is never put in a complicated situation.

I bet you play Warhammer 40k. That would explain a lot. I was about your age when I abandoned the competitive gamer mindset and embraced the joy of losing so that I could get the anxiety out of the way and just enjoy the narrative of the game. What you bring to the table is your life experience to make the game better, not the other way around.

Willxi wrote:
That very very long message had two purpose, first i wanted only the persons with time to share to read the end,

Hilarious. As with reading a mystery novel, I skipped straight to the end and read this paragraph well before the rest of the post.

Willxi wrote:
I'm looking for the oldest, most experienced, shrewdest, angriest or loneliest game designer that would be interested in having some hours of casual discussion with me.

Well, I expect that I'm the angriest user on this site, or at least the most acerbic and generally unpleasant.

Willxi wrote:
Games are NOT funny or pleasurable things in essence, sex is pleasurable in essence, so is eating or sleeping, playing is not, playing a game you like is pleasurable, that's where i draw the line.

Incorrect. Sex is not inherently pleasurable. It can be quite painful for some, either physically or emotionally. It can be unsatisfying if a partner is selfish or unskilled. It can be a weapon, either in the case of denial or rape. Same with eating or sleeping. You perhaps have only enjoyed the pleasurable side of these things, so much so that you take for granted the trauma of a nightmare or the indigestion accompanying a meal, but for people with regular night terrors, acid reflux, or any number of the wonderful infirmities that you have to look forward to later in life, there is no innate default of pleasure associated with these things.

Play is by default pleasurable, because it is only play if pleasure is derived. The word itself means to "engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose." Ergo, "playing" a game from which you derive no enjoyment means that you are not in reality playing, so much as simply doing. This is why there is sex for procreation, that serious and practical purpose, and sex play as a pleasurable form of recreation. If I enjoyed falling down the stairs, I could play at it.

I didn't really read the rest of the post because it is boring to read the breakdown of someone else's conversation outside of a novel, in which case your post would have read more like:

"Finally, Josiah made a connection with the dialogue between reductionism and holism as he unsheathed his oscillating broadsword and waded into the fray as though it were some sort of battle royale or hunger game. Both were very interesting concepts that I was glad to be introduced to and would check out later, once we had slain the last of the Stephanie Meyer-style vampires that had overrun the city of Twin Peaks. I mounted my pastel colored flying pony and set the lance that I'd borrowed from Doctor Who . . . also, boobs."
-- Excerpt from the best selling youth novel of all time.

Willxi
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Joined: 03/25/2015
I haven't had such a pleasure

I haven't had such a pleasure reading someone answer for a long time... sorry for appearing young and naive, i guess a part of me has to be. But i'm glad you can also find a lot of bullshit in the first post, happy that you criticized the format so much, I'm not used to communicate in forums so i'm still learning and i had doubts about letting the Edit.

I can get why you say that you are generally the most unpleasant, every bullshit you putted you finger was beautifully described and mocked, i get why the tone can hurt a lot of people but it's very refreshing for me to be treated like a dum. For once i got the impression that i could at least advance a bit my thinking.

It's late here and I have a lot of answers for you, so i'll take the time to analyse properly your remarks and respond to them tomorrow.

Thank you again for responding.

Soulfinger
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Joined: 01/06/2015
Young and naive is fun.

Young and naive is fun. Disillusionment and angst even more so, since they go better with rum. Don't get me wrong though. I didn't mean to suggest that you were a dummy by any means, or even properly mock you. The Internet is becoming a very civil place, but I still subscribe to the early '90s standard of posting like . . . wow, who is the French equivalent of Redd Foxx? Mendoza from Mysterious Cities of Gold? The hippo from Chapi Chapo? I am ignorant of your iconic television shows beyond what was aired on Nickelodeon thirty years ago (and the Chapi Chapo translation was total gibberish).

There are so many people online eager to offer compliments and a pat on the back that I feel comfortable just writing with the same candor that I'd offer up to a close friend. After all, so much of what we voice to our friends would be considered rude when said to a stranger, but it does dispense with the formalities that get in the way of good conversations, all of those qualifiers and appeasements that deprive a statement of its worth . . . in my humble opinion.

Willxi
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Joined: 03/25/2015
Just have to say ... not

Just have to say ... not having to be politically correct can save up a shit ton of time, maybe french etiquette went to deep up ... i'll keep that in mind when writing my answers.

-Eberhardt-
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Joined: 01/30/2015
welcome

First welcome, next no offense taken to your post. :)

I am new to design and noticed that my designs are based on a few things but one is the average time I have to play with the groups I am in.

Games bringe great joy and when my eextended family found out I was building some they were happy as I've been a gamer for a while.

I wish you less angst and lots of joy with your regular job and also your designs. :)

Cheers
Jon

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