is a series of six blog posts that explore the
significant potential of computer games and related media to develop
and advance the evolutionary process:
Friday, April 24, 2009
Engineering' using computer games
This is the first of a
series of posts that sketch some ways
in which computer game frameworks can be used to promote the positive
development of humanity, both as individuals and collectively. The
intended to stimulate discussion and sharing about some of the key
will be explored in depth at the Meaningful Media Workshop.
This first post examines
how computer games can be designed and structured to
overcome a major impediment to the positive development of humanity.
Part of being human is having long term goals that we are unable to
easily (or sometimes at all). Often our difficulty is that we are not
to do all the things that are necessary to reach the goal.
For example, we don’t necessarily find satisfaction in the actions
lose weight, to get fit, to learn a musical instrument, to get a better
or to develop our emotional, social, cognitive or spiritual
fact that we find a long term goal extremely alluring does not
provide us with the motivation to take all the steps to achieve the
Unfortunately, human psychology is not organized that way (yet).
Computer games and related technologies can help overcome this
impediment to human achievement.
May 5, 2009
Flow Engineering - some examples and possibilities
In my previous
post, I looked at how computer games and related technologies
as ‘motivation engines’. They can be designed to provide us with
paths to meaningful, longer-term goals that we may be unable to achieve
otherwise. The goals may include the acquisition of skills, knowledge,
consciousness, etc. Appropriately structured and tuned, games can
enable us to
move effortlessly and enjoyably towards these goals in a state of Flow.
Games can do this by treating steps taken towards meaningful goals as
the game, by providing positive feedback for each step, and by matching
level of challenge with the level of the player. Games can also be
to treat steps taken in ‘real life’ as actions that count within the
this way games can provide an overlay to ‘real life’ that motivates
actions that serve ‘real world’ goals.
In this post I will provide some examples of games that are designed in
that motivate achievement of serious goals.
May 12, 2009
the greatest game of all
I concluded my previous
post with a brief discussion of strategy-based simulation
These games motivate players to find out for themselves how complex
respond to their actions, interventions and strategies. Complex
that can be simulated by games include any aspect of everyday life
social interactions, goal setting, and ethical and moral choices),
environmental systems, societies, economic arrangements, and political
governmental systems. To succeed in the game, players interact with the
simulation to learn the consequences of various choices and actions.
Strategy-based simulation games are particularly suited to exploring
This new worldview locates humanity in a much larger evolutionary
has a meaningful role for us. It therefore is central in providing
science-based answers to the ‘big questions’: What are we? Where do we
from? Where are we going to? What should we do with our lives?
Evolutionary science is developing
understanding of the universe that makes sense of human
existence. Far from
being a meaningless accident in an indifferent universe, life appears
to have a
central role in its future.
May 18, 2009
games that awaken - Part 1
In previous posts I have
discussed how computer games can be
structured to make the acquisition of skills enjoyable and relatively
effortless. In this post I will explore their potential to train the
that are generally associated with spiritual development.
More specifically, I will examine whether computer games can be
produce the same kinds of effects as meditation. Are computer games
motivate and guide the kinds of practices that awaken human beings?
ability of computer games to overlay real life give them the potential
motivate the practices needed to awaken us in the midst of ordinary
These are critical issues for humanity at present. We are in great need
capacities that are claimed to be produced by spiritual development and
meditation. These include: access to ‘higher mind’ (including access to
intuition and other capacities that are essential for understanding and
managing complex environmental, economic and social systems); the
free oneself from the dictates of negative emotions and motivations
ability to ‘turn the other cheek’ and ‘resist temptation’ at will); and
ability to experience life from a position of stillness and peace,
stress. More …
May 25, 2009
games that awaken - Part II
In Part 1, I discussed
what ‘awakening’ involves and began
to identify the key elements of practices that can train awakening and
mindfulness. In this post I will continue this examination in order to
computer game can be structured so that they produce the same effects
meditation and related practices.
As we have seen, meditation trains the capacity to dis-embed
thoughts, desires and emotions. It achieves this through practices in
meditator repeatedly moves attention away from thoughts and desires.
something more is needed if this practice is to train the capacity to
the present. As well as disengaging attention, the meditator needs to
moving attention to something that leaves consciousness dis-embedded. More …
June 1, 2009
games that awaken - Part III
II of this series of posts I examined how computer games
structured so that playing the game would train players to:
- dis-embed from thoughts, desires and
perceptions, and come into the present;
- develop the capacity to remain in the present
in the face of distractions
(including by being given positive feedback on returning to the present
becoming embedded again);
- dis-embed and remain present in the full range
of situations and contexts
encountered during daily life, including in circumstances that evoke
- use a technique that is highly transferable to
ordinary life in order to stay
non-attached and in the present (e.g. by dividing attention so that
their attention rests continually on ‘inert’ bodily sensations); and
this post I will look more closely at the potential of
computer games to overcome a major difficulty encountered by the
contemplative traditions: their practices and approaches have been able
produce dis-embedding and awakening ‘on the meditation cushion’, during
retreats and in monasteries, but have far less success in the midst of
life. More …
- take advantage of dis-embedding by replacing
habitual responses with actions
that are wiser and more intelligent.