Someone at work forwarded me this comic, nicely designed to get you thinking about the following point: At what point does a game system evolve into an organized religion?
[And by religion, I don’t mean it in the grand tradition of personal and spiritual belief systems, but rather as “institution designed to defend itself against other religions and the lack-thereof, and thus self-propagate.”]
Think about it. Organized religion uses reward systems daily and in the afterlife too. Such an such sin gets so many hail Mary’s. Blowing up civilians gets so many virgins. it’s all about points and expectations, even if the promises are much less immediately gratifying than they might be in games.
In games, we can give you badges for achievements. We can unlock content you would not otherwise get to. We can promote you on social ladders and give you the attention and recognition you think you deserve.
What I find most interesting about this is that in thinking for a long time about real world game systems that the comic is skewering, I came to the conclusion years ago that there must be more than one such system. People can then subscribe to the system of their choice. That would lead to politically-driven point systems, religiously-driven point systems, and so on. And it’s not inconceivable that someone would try to make such a sociopathic point system eventually, intolerable as it would be. [this is where the rest of us have to use the criminal point system to stop it]
The main twist I wanted to offer on this meme is not just that we could see multiple systems in play, but that the ratification of the systems — maybe even the validation of the point awards themselves to some extent — must come from the participants, not some holy temple of rightness.
That doesn’t prevent mob rule, as is true of Democracy, but it at least guarantees that people can self govern, and if not, they get more or less what history has proven happens when people give up those rights or have them stripped without a fight.
Very interesting stuff. I wonder what my old Disney colleague Jesse Schell thinks of all this…