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December 8, 2008 12:35 PM   Subscribe

While it's been noted Obama is the first presidential candidate to run political ads in video games and one of his transition team leaders plays World of Warcraft, there's no real evidence as yet that the coming administration encompasses the gaming experience and mindset. Since future ones undoubtedly will, as video and computer games go mainstream, it's worthwhile to ponder what things would be like if gamers ran the world. (via)

(For example, does the issue of complexity in MMO worlds hold any lessons for the current Rube-Goldberg financial system?)
posted by Doktor Zed (52 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I know a guy who works in the video game industry. He doesn't like MMO's; FPS and RPG games are more his preference. He maintains a WoW account and puts in five or ten hours a week simply because doing so substantially improves his ability to network with his coworkers and others in his industry. Second Life gets all the hype vis a vis virtual worlds, but WoW has far more users and offers something that SL doesn't: something to do other than look.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:40 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


there's no real evidence as yet that the coming administration encompasses the gaming experience and mindset

You say that like it's a bad thing.
posted by dhammond at 12:44 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


You say that like it's a bad thing.

I eagerly await the first time the Democrats outmanuever the GOP and Obama puts out a press release stating, simply, "LOL, pwnt"
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:45 PM on December 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


there's no real evidence as yet that the coming administration encompasses the gaming experience and mindset

The US Army moves to Second Life.

posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:51 PM on December 8, 2008


SIGN THIS ONLINE PETITION NOW
TO PROTEST THE NERFING OF INTEREST RATES
posted by Spatch at 12:52 PM on December 8, 2008 [6 favorites]


This is simply because gaming is mainstream. Werbach's World of Warcraft character says as much about his technology policy as Rumsfeld's squash racket says about his defense strategy.

The fact that he has a level 70 shaman just means that he hasn't had too much time to play the new expansion. Maybe he's been busy with work lately?
posted by demiurge at 12:55 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


there's no real evidence as yet that the coming administration encompasses the gaming experience and mindset

Remember that story about Obama apologizing for messing up that kid's game? This would be the opposite of that.
posted by aswego at 12:56 PM on December 8, 2008


it's worthwhile to ponder what things would be like if gamers ran the world.

[the last eight years]

AFK_
posted by quin at 1:01 PM on December 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


With all these Obama is just like other MeFite nerds, why do I feel that we going to have a post one of these day that informs us that Quonsar is really Barack and he quit posting so much as his drive for the Whitehouse picked up?
posted by Pollomacho at 1:10 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is simply because gaming is mainstream. Werbach's World of Warcraft character says as much about his technology policy as Rumsfeld's squash racket says about his defense strategy.

Well, it would be nice if the people running the world chose more accessible hobbies. Country clubs for example have had a long history of keeping "certain people" off of the golf course, and although the demographics are changing, a lot of hobbies of the rich and powerful are still partially designed keep all but the elite few out. In video games, even n00bz are welcome as long as they don't mind getting pwned.

Also, if Cheney had shot that dog from Duck Hunt in the face instead of some old white dude, it wouldn't have been a big deal.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:22 PM on December 8, 2008


That's not true, there's the same if not more snobbery in video games, it's just not based on real world wealth. If you don't think n00bs aren't looked down upon, then you don't play many games. Unskillful players are scorned and mocked.
posted by graventy at 1:34 PM on December 8, 2008


no real evidence as yet that the coming administration encompasses the gaming experience and mindset.

Again, I didn't vote for him because he encompasses the gaming experience and mindset.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:39 PM on December 8, 2008


All that for an essay that essentially said "Video gamers are smarter then non gamers, therefore the future will be awesome"?
posted by delmoi at 1:42 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you don't think n00bs aren't looked down upon, then you don't play many games. Unskillful players are scorned and mocked.

There's a difference between being looked down upon for lack of skill and being systematically excluded from participating. If you are really terrible at basketball, you'll get made fun of when you try to play in a pickup game, but you can always go home and practice. Same thing for video games. Everyone starts as a n00b, but everyone has a chance of becoming better at it.

If you want to play golf, sail a yacht, or ride a horse competitively, good luck even getting started.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:52 PM on December 8, 2008


Oh jesus. "Gamers" are like "graphic novel readers," desperately searching to win an argument for legitimacy that has largely been won already. In the former case, however, its a pyrrhic victory, since video games are almost all about mind-numbing repetition and the failure to find something truly creative to do with your time. Don't get me wrong, I like a good video game, but I like American Chopper too, and I never hear anyone claim that that's likely to save the world.
posted by OmieWise at 1:56 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


To be fair, a gamer stands the best chance of properly answering that 3AM phone call. Normal folks are either asleep or drunk at 3AM; gamers are awake, alert, and wired on six cans of Mountain Dew.
posted by naju at 2:01 PM on December 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


Unskillful players are scorned and mocked.

Well, sure. If they don't like it they should get some skills.
posted by Justinian at 2:01 PM on December 8, 2008


[the last eight years]

Dubby> lolguyz ima gonna spec randist-libertarian and equip all my jesus armor set this time
DarthC> dude we're about to raid the friggin economy if u do that we'll wipe
Dubby> lol just get paulson to rez us give him alla yr gold to buy rezzing scrolls
ELECTION WILL BE CALLED IN SIX MONTHS. WE APOLOGIZE FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE.
Dubby> fuuuuck why now why now why is it always every four years
Krove> mccain get yr sisters friend to login quick
McSame> but she's noob
DarthC> who cares just give her all the twink gear from the bank
Splain has joined the party.
Splain> hey guys i'm ready you betcha
DarthC> omfg a huntard? where's your pet?
Splain> i don't use a pet, i roll solo
Krove> why is your gear all +spirit?
Splain> it's lemon yellow, it's really pretty
Krove has left the party.
Dubby> fuuuuuck we got no time for this just pull splain ffs
Splain> how do i do that?
DarthC> just pull! STAND IN FRONT OF IT AND PISS IT OFF!
You are dead.
Dubby> oh i hate you guyz so much i don't care any more
Dubby has logged out.
DarthC has logged out.
Splain> this game is fun!
McSame> ..
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:03 PM on December 8, 2008 [30 favorites]


So here's the basic flaw with how great video games are: you get multiple chances.

You know what kind of video games would make good training for future presidents? Games where you get one life and can only be played once.
posted by GuyZero at 2:04 PM on December 8, 2008


Games where you get one life and can only be played once.

So.. Russian Roulette anyone?
posted by naju at 2:05 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


And gamers - or, at least, fans of one particular genre - are already well-versed in what survival looks like. [...] It [guild raids] becomes a kind of management, and it's something that employers are taking notice of.

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha (*gasp*) ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Sorry, but speaking as a gamer myself, the idea that games teach broad concepts like "survival" and "management" is so damn stupid it hurts. Games teach these things in the context of the game, not in the context of the real world. The real world's rules are exponentially more difficult to understand and apply, and mastering a comparatively tiny subset of video-game rules doesn't necessarily translate to real-world success, especially when those rules are purposely tweaked to provide wholly unrealistic and arbitrary systems of failure and reward. The part where this guy is suggesting that we add game-like "high-score readouts" to the real world is deeply revealing: if games were so well-suited to teaching success, they wouldn't need purposely-limited auxiliary reward systems.

On top of that, pretty much any style of human play could be said to improve the mind, yet no one would suggest that hours and hours of Scrabble, billiards, soccer, or even Go teaches "survival" -- and no video game on Earth even remotely approaches the complexity and difficulty of mastering something like billiards, soccer, or Go.

I'm with OmieWise: pretty much any activity which involves sitting and doing something repetitively does not teach "survival" or "management" nearly as well as, say, going outside and talking to other people does. Games have their place, and I don't doubt that they improve certain skills, but their usefulness with regards to the real world is vastly outweighed by the massive time sink they represent.
posted by vorfeed at 2:07 PM on December 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm far more worried about Obama's stance on DRM, net neutrality, copyrights, etc than I am on MMOs. If WoW shutdown I wouldn't care, if DRM became mandatory, I'd have a lot of useless junk because it doesn't support any DRM flavor.
posted by SirOmega at 2:13 PM on December 8, 2008


if games were so well-suited to teaching success, they wouldn't need purposely-limited auxiliary reward systems.

The same can be said of school.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:21 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love armchair extrapolations that make me feel special, please more!
posted by TwelveTwo at 2:25 PM on December 8, 2008


If gamers ran the world I'd hit myself in the dick with a hammer until I died
posted by Damn That Television at 2:26 PM on December 8, 2008


Two of the main adult characters on Young and the Restless are big video game players. I'm still waiting for the Wow-Addiction episode.
posted by nomisxid at 2:36 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


The same can be said of school.

IMHO, the jury is definitely still out on whether or not modern schooling teaches success, either; I personally suspect that the same artificiality which limits games also limits schools, though to a much lesser degree. Success in the real world involves much more than simple min/maxing. That said, there's still a huge difference between scores in school (which depend on one's performance on a wide range of real-world tasks with direct real-world applicability, as well as the navigation of the school's social structure) and scores in games (which depend on, at most, perhaps twenty simple metrics, the vast majority of which have direct applicability only to the game in which they were mastered).

We have hundreds of years of evidence which suggests that one's skill in reading, writing, arithmetic, history, philosophy, and the like have a strong bearing on one's success in the real world. Being ace at tanking Karazhan, not so much.
posted by vorfeed at 3:04 PM on December 8, 2008


I wrote my undergrad thesis on virtual economies. I've played a lot of WoW (since quit), but decided to give SL a try after seeing some amazing statistics on its economy. WoW was fun while it lasted, but SL is a bit like I imagine hell to manifest itself, should I ever be sentenced to it.
posted by pyrex at 3:13 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Two of the main adult characters on Young and the Restless are big video game players. I'm still waiting for the Wow-Addiction episode.

3, no? Nick, Daniel and Noah. The way I fuckin' know that... damn, that girlfriend of mine.
posted by gman at 3:18 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Werbach's World of Warcraft character says as much about his technology policy as Rumsfeld's squash racket says about his defense strategy.
Despite some bloggers reading way too much into that, actually I do wonder how Werbach's advocacy of 'net neutrality might be related to his playing WoW, since MMORPGs in their current form are very much dependent on it.

You say that like it's a bad thing.
I say that like it's a thing, a cultural fact, just as it took a while for listening to the radio or watching television to be reflected in past administrations' mindsets. Personally, I'm fascinated by how habits of play can reveal, and influence, people's attitudes and thinking. Obama himself doesn't appear to like video games necessarily, admonishing fellow parents to "put [them] away" (even though there's of course a counterargument to be made that children can benefit from playing them). Much has been written about the significance of Obama's poker game, however, so make of that what you will in his development as a politician.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:25 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


gman, I wouldn't consider Noah an "adult" character, and I must have forgotten Daniel had any pc experience other than his porn-addiction story arc. I was thinking of Nick and Phyllis, who reminded Nick just the other day that video games are not a her-present, but an us-present.

The way I know that, lingering addiction from post dot-com-bust unemployment.
posted by nomisxid at 3:27 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh come on. Noah went from this little geek to this STUD overnight. I've seen Daniel play with Phyllis and with Noah on more than one occasion. And I think if not for Nick, Phyllis would give two shits about video games.
posted by gman at 3:38 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


“All that for an essay that essentially said "Video gamers are smarter then non gamers, therefore the future will be awesome"?”

Reading it, I kept thinking that I have actually worried about my ammunition, wounds and health and have actually fought people and used strategy.
So, what, I missed out on the experience one can glean from the simulation of such things?

“Thinking about bare minimums is frightening. And gamers - or, at least, fans of one particular genre - are already well-versed in what survival looks like.”

No, worrying in situ about whether a Mercedes engine block is enough cover for 7.62 rounds is frightening. Sitting on your ass looking at a video screen is fun. Perhaps ‘scary’ fun, but fun.

“That means you’re juggling the moves list - and, indeed, the strategies and tactics - for two characters in your head, not just your own.”

Wow. Real fighters never do this.

“This is clearly very advanced systems thinking, and beat-em-up players practice it all the time.”

Let’s see ‘em practice it while getting an elbow in the chops from a 280 lb psychopath.

I enjoy games, but the limit here isn’t just in the stakes, it’s in the limited form within the rules.
There simply isn’t the degree of latitude for creative and lateral thinking in any game that it’s possible to show in real life nor is there any method by which to redefine the gameworld itself, as it’s possible to do in real life.
Case in point - Joshua Norton.

And objects are nearly always the objects they are. You can’t pull the heads off your bullets, say, and make a bomb in a given shoot ‘em up game. You couldn’t rig something out of a car battery. The parameters compared to actual life are very very rigid.
Certainly there is some value there, but wow is the thesis here overblown.

I think James P. Carse (spelling?) and others wrote far more interesting pieces on the nature of and value of ‘play.’

Play is vital. But it’s far far more open ended in scope than any given game.
Play existed long before video games. This is just yet another form play takes. It’s important to play.
But if anything I’d argue the rigidity inherent in some videogames are contrary to play.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:46 PM on December 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


I wrote my undergrad thesis on virtual economies. I've played a lot of WoW (since quit), but decided to give SL a try after seeing some amazing statistics on its economy. WoW was fun while it lasted, but SL is a bit like I imagine hell to manifest itself, should I ever be sentenced to it.

Hah. SL's economy was based entirely on illegal gambling, which got shut down wiping out their entire "banking system"
posted by delmoi at 4:03 PM on December 8, 2008


I'm awesome at Agricola! I'm gonna go buy a farm!!!
posted by Faux Real at 4:05 PM on December 8, 2008


On top of that, pretty much any style of human play could be said to improve the mind, yet no one would suggest that hours and hours of Scrabble, billiards, soccer, or even Go teaches "survival" -- and no video game on Earth even remotely approaches the complexity and difficulty of mastering something like billiards, soccer, or Go.

Counterargument: Portal. Not that it's as complex or difficult as go (soccer maybe), but that it manifestly exercises a very specific muscle: the what-the-fuck muscle. Nothing else I've ever seen gives you such opportunity to experience such diverse, often orthogonal environments with (usually) fully realized rules, environments and assumptions with such ease.

People who are good at games can step into a new game and almost immediately be competent, often excellent. Where I take hours to figure out the nuances of a new environment some people can jump in and just get it. Sure some of that is innate but there's quite a large number of hours of experience behind that in my sample set.
posted by Skorgu at 4:06 PM on December 8, 2008


And gamers - or, at least, fans of one particular genre - are already well-versed in what survival looks like.

Damn straight! I now know how to survive most anything. That is, as long as its laid out like 2fort. And I have sticky bombs.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 4:12 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thank God for video games. Early, steady training as a child has helped me with vital adult skills such as mushroom eating, pellet chasing, and princess rescuing.
posted by The Whelk at 4:18 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's worthwhile to ponder what things would be like if gamers ran the world.

Well fortunately what is worth pondering is often relative. I'll pass on pondering about this except for one thought. It would be pretty well if not exactly the same as it is now. Things need to be done, but the government is too busy playing games.
posted by juiceCake at 4:36 PM on December 8, 2008


METAFILTER: THE CAKE IS A LIE.
posted by Bageena at 5:08 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know who else was a gamer who wanted to run the world?
posted by qvantamon at 5:52 PM on December 8, 2008


Aug 2006: Eve Online Economy Suffers 700 billion ISK Scam
Eve Intergalactic Bank - robbed in plain sight?


*does double-take*
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:59 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thank god it's only a game.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:00 PM on December 8, 2008


You know what kind of video games would make good training for future presidents? Games where you get one life and can only be played once.

I played that Roguelike. It hurt.
posted by ryoshu at 6:01 PM on December 8, 2008


you totally win, Gladys Bageena.
posted by liza at 6:03 PM on December 8, 2008


This has also been said about football stars, military heroes, and business owners. It's not where or how you acquire your "real life lessons and skills." It's whether you actually apply them to real life.
posted by nax at 6:08 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I'm awesome at Agricola! I'm gonna go buy a farm!!!"

You know who else had a farm?

You know who else heard a moo moo here and a moo moo there?
posted by Smedleyman at 8:39 PM on December 8, 2008


Durn Bronzefist: The Eve scams are especially interesting because it's a game that's themed around piracy and theft (minimal or no pre-defined social laws in the game). I wonder what would happen if they tried to sue in real life or if they called the police, that amount is definitely enough for the FBI to get involved...
posted by amuseDetachment at 9:26 PM on December 8, 2008


what things would be like if gamers ran the world

Running around blowing the shit out of anything that moves in case it's dangerous, while grabbing everything that looks like supplies for yourself? Yes, imagine what the world would be like if our leaders behaved like that.
posted by Grangousier at 11:06 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hah. SL's economy was based entirely on illegal gambling, which got shut down wiping out their entire "banking system"

What gets me about Second Life is that there's nothing to do. It is not a game. It is a chat room attached to 3D modeling software.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:10 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


What gets me about Second Life is that there's nothing to do.

O RLY?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:55 AM on December 9, 2008


There's an absolutely amazing thread in the Games subforum of Something Awful right now, "I Killed British", full of griefing stories. The John Edward trolling is in there, along with the Second Life humiliation of Nintendo of America's Reggie Fils-Aimes.

I think it says something about Second Life when the only thing to do is troll.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:56 AM on December 9, 2008


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