Friday, March 13, 2015

The Industrialized Gaming Complex?

Last week I discussed how we integrate games in our lives to provide pleasure, enhance community, and hone real world skills.  There is a dark side to playing games, to be sure; and perhaps I downplayed that facet unconsciously in my post.

As with any tool developed by technology or evolved for adaptation, how the tool is actually used can have a wide range of effects on the well being of individuals or the larger collective.  A knife, for instance, can be wielded to slice bread or to kill an innocent, conscious animal; similarly, games can increase or decrease the amount of goodness in the world.
"Meet my little friend."

Negative aspects of gaming include gambling addiction, rule subversion (cheating), prejudice reinforcement, violence desensitizing, and treating people like disposable pawns on real battlefields,....not to mention playing Monopoly with Free Parking....okay that last is beyond even Cthulu's acceptability!

Now I'm sure you can come up with many real life examples where games are drafted into service to lure people into irrational behavior or to otherwise devalue real world beings, resources or situations. One might even consider the promise of an afterlife the ultimate bait-and-switch reward many religions have on offer to sway their followers that life is but a game to encourage undervaluing our mortal lives and the environment around us.

Caveat emptor.  It is our responsibility as individuals and as the organizations that represent us to assess the goodness of the gamespaces we interface with.  Playing Minecraft on a smartphone is grand, if it complements family cohesiveness and study ethic.  Lottery ticket purchases are fun and thrilling, if they don't transform ones budget into an economic blunder.

Perfunctory analysis of how games are implemented in our lives, from cradle to grave, can reveal their net positive, negative, and neutral effects on our reality.   Taking a step back from the instant gratification that games often create isn't necessarily easy, still an honest, open minded evaluation of their impact is part of the meta-game we need to play to win important outcomes (and have grand fun) in our lives.

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