Saturday, March 27, 2010
Joe Brewer, a game developer, argues on TED that only a dramatic increase in the total hours of global video gaming (to some mind-boggling yet precisely accurate number) can save the world. She flashes the picture of a freakishly exhilarated teenager which, she claims, rather than capturing a gaming high or even climax, shows some optimistic wrinkles on his face. Those come from his sensation that he is on the verge of what is known in the industry as an Epic Win. The picture ostensibly demonstrates that gamers, as “super-empowered hopeful individuals,” are in search of “epic meaning” as they exit into parallel online worlds. All that is needed is to harness that ocean of energy for the solution of pressing global problems, like the coming shortage of oil. Brewer claims her Institute of the Future is doing just that – by developing a few video games immersing players into, say, a future of gasoline scarcity. She and her fellow game engineers thus want not just to imagine but to make the future. I thought self-serving delusion had reached its peak somewhere between 1933 and 1953 (later in China), but the flight of geek imagination appears to have raised the bar in this area – as in many others.