Concept Presentation – The Forest

For the course serious gaming I work together with Ruben Boyd and Sarah Parinussa. Our project is currently called The Forest and is meant to especially develop intrapersonal skills like metacognition and self-reflection.

The project is currently a work in progress but feel free to see more of it in the presentation link below. Further information on the project will be updated regularly to this site!

Concept Presentation – The Forest

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Project Utopia

Utopia is a fascinating thing. Throughout the ages great thinkers have thought about utopian civilizations. The hard thing about utopia is that it has to be a utopia to all of the members of that society. Ones utopia is the others dystopia, so doesn’t this fact make a utopia impossible? Some think so, which is also reflected in the free dictionaries’ definition of utopia:

u·to·pi·a

n

1.

  1. often Utopia A perfect place, especially in its social, political, and moral aspects.
  2. A work of fiction describing a utopia.
  3. An impractical, idealistic scheme for social and political reform.

 

The definition already implies it; utopia is often seen as fiction, as an impractical and idealistic scheme. And maybe it will forever remain fiction, but maybe it will not. In the hope for the latter I’ll describe my personal utopia here.

As I stated before, a utopia for some is a dystopia for others. That’s why my utopia consists of a much more like minded and homogenous population than the one we see today. Again, a homogenous society is already a nightmare for some. But in my view this is the only way to truly make a utopia, so it’s just the beginning. In my utopia, science and technology have an even bigger influence on society than currently seen. Influences of religious doctrine have finally waded, and given way to a more free society. Technology is abundant, and not hoarded by a few. As are resources, from food to metals, everyone has access. Every person gets the education that is required to become a citizen of this utopia. Everybody is ‘a citizen of the world.’

To realize this, many things have to change. One of the more important factors is education. As long as education isn’t applied correctly, or not available to all, a utopian society will never exist. This education leads me to gamification. Gamification can possibly change the way we learn. They can help people understand the world better, find their place in it. And although serious games aren’t at that level yet,  I assume that much can be achieved in the future. So much that the question arises if the future systems that helps one understand the world are really still just a ‘serious game.’ No, in my utopia, education through technology becomes even more sophisticated than the most serious game. I think that AI will acquire a large role in education. Personalizing educational materials that work best for the individual and coaching and teaching the student through these materials. Eventually I hope that every person has his own personal eduactional AI, this can perhaps even become a companion for life. However, this AI companion may become so skilled in helping develop the utopian human brain, the usual role of human parents aren’t necessary anymore. This might be scary to some, and again illustrates that this utopian thought of mine is dystopian to others.  But again, in my point of view, this is necessary to reach utopia, otherwise we will never reach it. Besides. even in this day and age the question can be asked whether older generations are truly fit to raise the next generation for a world so different from the one they were raised in. Ofcourse some are fit, but a lot are not. An AI parent may rid of problems that are recurrent in generations through poor parenting. Simply stated: to create utopian humans, we can’t solely rely on humans. Whether it’s really sensible to replace human parents can’t be stated yet though, only the future can tell whether this really is the best way.

It is important for a utopia to be based on trust in each other. When such a homogenous society is created through fear, we are dangerously close to a dystopia.  Forced homogenity reminds of stories like 1984, but I think that homogenity can also evolve over time with only small pushes.

A last thing that is part of the utopia is the benevolent dictatorship. In my view this benevolent leader has to be an AI, since I’ve think being a benevolent dictator is much and much harder for a human, if not impossible. Or we could take advise from Deus Ex, where a human merges with a benevolent super AI in order to be able to dictate the world. I think that a democratic utopia is a myth. Other options may also exist, unbekownst to me, but so far I think that a benevolent dictatorship is not at all a bad thing for the future course of humanity. 

I’d like to hear your thoughts on my described utopia and why you agree or disagree!

Why Serious Gaming?

A thing that is very dear to me is gaming. I’ve been gaming my entire life and probably will continue to do so till the day I die. Not only do I game, I also write for a game-related news site (gamekings.nl). Safe to say, gaming and all related topics have a large part in my life. Although I haven’t always noticed it in myself, even non-serious games can have great influences on people. These influences can be negative, consider the emergence of game addiction for one. Or how about the possible traumatic effects that may emerge as games get increasingly realistic and emotional?

However, the influence can also be beneficial! Something as simple as playing First Person Shooters can remove the difference that is usually found  between men and women when it comes to visuospatial skills! Playing a game can really make you score higher on an IQ test! This realization got me thinking: if such beneficial effects can be achieved ‘by accident’, what could be achieved if we actually design our games for such purposes?

Serious gaming to me is to not just see games as a (read: the best) form of entertainment, but as a means to attain a certain goal. The good part of serious gaming is that it’s educational goals don’t rule out entertainment. A lot of research is required to figure out what components are necessary when we wan’t to achieve that certain goal. How do we engage the ‘player’? How do we reward the ‘player’? And how do we achieve the behavioural or cognitive change that is desired? Furthermore, an important question to ask is what the limits of gameification are; to what problems is SG solution, and to what problems is it not?

I personally believe that SG might especially contribute in the resolution of personal problems (the individual level). This can range from the training of certain skills, to overcoming fear, to just learning more about yourself! However, it may also have great applications at the societal level. It may, for example, be attempted to increase empathy or improve morality on a large scale through serious gaming!

I’m looking forward to working together with a diverse group of people, to see what creative solutions to known problems we can come up with.