How ego saved the world one game at a time

Like any reasonable thinking human, the topic of most interest to me is myself. But, I guess it is that understanding of my own ego that makes all of this “being human” think work? With that in mind, I will redirect my attention towards my own little obsession with understanding others focus on themselves. Which describes my my new found interest in studying influence, motivation, and whatever that other fancy word is for “what makes people do the things they do.” I am currently naive enough to believe the way to change the world, and make it a better place, is to master the art and science of influence.

This is why gaming theory is so interesting to me right now. For better or worse, social gaming has discovered a way to drive people to do things that are not necessarily in their best interest (a.k.a. give someone else money for no tangible ROI) i.e. spend $3 on a “flower” that is nothing more than 2k bits of completely un-unique data.

What if some of the lessons learned by these companies could be applied to social-change and make the world a better place? What if we could derive ways to inspire people to do something else that is not necessarily in their best interest (a.k.a. give someone else money for no tangible ROI) i.e. spend $3 towards the drilling of a water well that potentially saves more than 2k lives.

Fortunately, a lot of the research has already been paid for by the entertainment industry. So, my real task will be discovering a way to get them do do something that is not in their best interest. I guess it is time to go back to studying ego.

  • Combine a game (dev costs, but then everything is profit) with water well drilling. You get a “flower” charity:water gets 70% of the $3 (or whatever the breakdown is…)

    • Dwight, that is interesting too. Personally, I want to take it much deeper than that. I don't want to make games that are charitable, but rather apply gaming theory toward influencing people towards social change.

    • Dwight, that is interesting too. But, I want to take it much deeper than that.

  • At the end of the day getting 2k of non-unique data may not be in your best interest, but it is something (even if the scarcity causing them to pay $3 is artificial).

    Are you saying something like “world of water well drilling” where you get people to somehow form clans in the game that actually do things in the real world?

    Kiva is a tangentially related thing you might look at.

    Or maybe I'm not understanding.

    • What Kiva is doing is much more inline with what I am thinking. I'm not thinking about games. I'm thinking about the underlying science of games that motivates people to take actions.

  • meryl333

    The activities of someone with an unripe ego are likely to be selfishly centered–seeking to gain something at the expense of another. Someone with a ripe ego recognizes that we are one with all that exists and compassionate activity acknowledges that oneness. Haven't you noticed how people with a healthy egos give to others and end up feeling good–and thankful–as well? Corporations cannot change anything until corporate leadership can see & feel that a responsibility for all and not just for financial profit for a few. Character building such as this is the “game” of true religion and spiritual practice.

    • Meryl333, I definitely appreciate what you are saying. And I fall much more inline with your view of thinking. At the same time, I know that not many people have a “ripe ego” and instead will need help crossing over into action. And, then, through practice, they will begin to walk on their own. (My assumption.)

  • Quite interesting subject. I checked wikipedia to get more information about the gaming theory.

    Motivate people to take action is probably one of the hardest things to do, I been seeing people having all the tools to be successful and they know they have the tools but the last step(action) is never done.

    Good thought.

    • Well, if it was “never done” nothing would ever happen. The last step *does* get done. We just need to better understand it.

  • Exactly. In that point here is where the numbers come out and help to understand why people didn't do it, I guess this is understanding marketing.

  • meryl333

    This is a thoughtful post. Regardless of conclusions we draw, it is worthy to be thinking of ways to get a group of people who make up a non-thinking/non-feeling legal entity to play a game where the goal is for something other than inflated financial gains. It is, in fact, in the players self interest to have all corporate strategies evolve & revolve around concern for triple bottom line. Shortsightedness of this fact arises from ignorance. The players of the Corporate game are often ignorant of how destructive and unsustainable their strategy is in the long and not-so-long run.

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  • Anonymous

    This is a thoughtful post. Regardless of conclusions we draw, it is worthy to be thinking of ways to get a group of people who make up a non-thinking/non-feeling legal entity to play a game where the goal is for something other than inflated financial gains. It is, in fact, in the players self interest to have all corporate strategies evolve & revolve around concern for triple bottom line. Shortsightedness of this fact arises from ignorance. The players of the Corporate game are often ignorant of how destructive and unsustainable their strategy is in the long and not-so-long run.

  • <3