The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
Ivo
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Gaming and social mechanisms

by Ivo Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:30 am

This article was linked in PAR and I found it quite interesting to read.

http://www.bitcreature.com/editorials/i ... tion-baby/

A quote I found interesting from the article:

I’ll use myself as an example. I’m less likely to give time to a friend who I’ve judged to not value me enough: meaning, my being a constructive force for someone else is not enough to include them in my life. I have to get something out of it too, I have to feel that they help keep me happy and healthy to some degree. Actions are never wholly selfless if I gain fulfillment from what I do. I adjust how much time I spend with people accordingly, hell, I adjust how that interaction manifests itself depending on the relationship. I opt for more face to face time with those closest to me while relegating others to texting, tweeting and the like (...)


I would be interested in reading the opinions of some other posters here in Racketboy on the article.
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KuiperBelt
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Re: Gaming and social mechanisms

by KuiperBelt Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:38 pm

The money quote to me given that we're talking about video games is:

"Maybe that’s uncomfortable. When we criticize games like Persona or games like Dragon Age, which structure personal relationships into levels and sliders, delineating clear methods to gain benefits from these relationships, is it wholly because they reduce complex interactions into something too simplistic, or something inhumane? Let’s be real, I think many of us would have trouble abstaining from looking at the numbers if we could actually see them in real life judging by how important useless statistics like how many friends we have on Facebook are to us."

It's absolutely possible to treat real life social situations as games, hence the existence of things like game theory. But is this ethically right? I would argue that even if we look at social interaction as a game, in real life it is analog versus the digital system of interaction that video games give you. Its ethical quality really comes down to whether you are a materialist (believe nothing exists except physical reality) or not. If you are, then quantifying social interaction in games or real life may or may not be your cup of tea, but it is inescapable as an ethical possibility. If you do believe in some kind of higher teleology for mankind, then simply yes, it is inhuman. The artificial social systems in video games can't show the full truth of a rational human and I would argue that it makes it ethically wrong to do this from this worldview.

Basically, we have to ask ourselves whether social models in video games are different in kind or different in degree to real human interaction. The answer given by any individual will come down to their already preconceived notions of what a human actually is.
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Key-Glyph
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Re: Gaming and social mechanisms

by Key-Glyph Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:38 am

^^Excellent post, Kuiper.

This article reminded me of the Mark Twain essay "What is Man?", in which one character argues (among other things) that true altruism doesn't exist on the basis that the act of providing happiness brings a certain happiness to the provider himself. If I give you a present and feel warm from expressing my affection, and good about the nice feelings I've stirred in you, can I really say that my gift-giving was an entirely selfless act? Isn't a lot of my motivation derived from wanting to feel those good feelings as a giver? And what does that say about me if it is, subconsciously or otherwise?

Regardless of what your feeling on the matter is, I think it's interesting that people seem generally less disturbed by emotionally-motivated meanness than by the absence of any sort of internal motivator for a behavior (as in the case of psychopaths). If someone acts out of spite or jealousy or the like, most people can empathize or sympathize at least in the general sense because they understand what it is to be guided by gut feelings. What really scares people is the concept of being entirely devoid of that kind of guidance, showcased by an individual -- or machine -- who might do things of either extreme equally without qualifying the difference, "just because." It's the old discomfort underlying many science fiction stories about robots and computers with artificial intelligence. Is "being human" the natural opposite of being purely rational? And if so, can the two ends meet somewhere?

So maybe any time I choose a terrible option on a dialog tree just to see what happens, I'm play-acting at being a psychopath. But the crucial difference is that the video game constructs an existence of saves, do-overs, and restarts, so you can micromanage the results and consequences of your story in a way you feel comfortable. For the human vs. machine sorts of people, it's the fact that you "need to feel comfortable" with your actions that matters, regardless of what that means in your individual case.

Very personally, I am not horrified by the possibility of being an agent of my subconscious with my independent thoughts existing only as a veneer of control -- but that's because I live happily and productively in a way that meshes with our societal norms. The real tragedy of an absence of free will would be the fate of people who are not so lucky in life, through what would be no fault of their own making.
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Ivo
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Re: Gaming and social mechanisms

by Ivo Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:43 am

Key-Glyph wrote:This article reminded me of the Mark Twain essay "What is Man?"


Apparently man is either a miserable pile of secrets or a cesspit of hatred and lies :)

What really scares people is the concept of being entirely devoid of that kind of guidance, showcased by an individual -- or machine -- who might do things of either extreme equally without qualifying the difference, "just because." It's the old discomfort underlying many science fiction stories about robots and computers with artificial intelligence. Is "being human" the natural opposite of being purely rational?


I think that what really scares people are the ones that do "just because", and not so much the ones that are purely rational. The 100% rational hyper-pragmatical AIs or whatever (I don't know, Vulcans in Star Trek?) may also disturb people a bit but at least are consistent and predictable. An AI wouldn't kill someone randomly, it might kill someone to save 2 persons or kill someone for some other type of (selfish) profit but that people would sort of understand (even if they disagree or have severe ethical issues with, they still sort of understand). The scariest part is not understanding at all.

Another issue, and back to the part I quoted in the first post here, this part here I am interested in discussing more:

If I give you a present and feel warm from expressing my affection, and good about the nice feelings I've stirred in you, can I really say that my gift-giving was an entirely selfless act? Isn't a lot of my motivation derived from wanting to feel those good feelings as a giver? And what does that say about me if it is, subconsciously or otherwise?


The author of the article states that she is less likely to give time to friends who don't reciprocate as much. From a "game" point of view the idea would be to maximise the benefit you get from an action (say a gift-giving, which can include "giving your time").

So in an asymmetrical situation where person A that doesn't have so much time for you and person B who does, it would still make more sense to gift A if that happens to make you happier regardless of the (relative) lack of reciprocation. Would that be strange?

Ivo.
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