This is the first part of 3, in which I give an introduction into what the game i am creating is all about.
So i want to kick this off, by giving an introduction into my background and the source of my profound passion for both game design and development; as well as an explanation of the values that angle of my approach towards the MVP I am creating and the things that inspired the idea.
I come from a background of severe gaming addiction and what the games that i played (mainly in solitude) for hours and hours on end gave me in return, was almost nothing except certain levels of proficiency in the English language, problem solving, decent reaction times and a broad real-life general knowledge, among a few other things.
It wasn’t until some time ago, while on the path of almost resolving this addiction that has taken over more than 10 years of my life; that I came to realize that what games have left me with - in respect to my understanding of myself and life itself - had a bigger downside which I had to recover from. Easier said than done. But in the grand scheme of things, I am not the only one concerned in this regard. There are many, many people out there, from adults to children that are suffering equally and possibly worse circumstances. Regardless of whether they are aware of it or not.
But gaming addiction does not fall within a black and white spectrum but rather within a wider and more colorful spectrum of complexities that in turn range from acute to severe.
For most, it is the perfect escape from their reality; the stress and the hardships which they would have been better off facing earlier on.
For others, they use it to “flood the pleasure center of the brain with dopamine” - David Greenfield, Ph.D.
Simon Sinek, a counselor on military innovation states that “dopamine is highly(x3) addictive” and that “a dopamine addict would do anything just to get another hit, sometimes at the sacrifice of his own resources and relationships”.
And lastly are the ones hopelessly looking for social lives in the virtual world. It doesn’t matter how ‘connected’ you might think technology brings us together; physical interaction is strictly indispensable for us human beings. It contributes to our growth in almost every aspect of our lives and alternatively, this is what we are all fundamentally looking for.
Instead of creating games that can potentially lead to severely detrimental backlashes, given their increasing sophistication and grandeur. The same targeted emotions could alternatively be redirected in such a way, where the hours they spend is met with equally beneficial knowledge and information that can contribute to their life outside of the game.
The problem is that although games provide a great medium for entertainment, it gives the players almost nothing in return. It rarely educates us about things that matter.
For instance, when a game’s goal is to “save the world”, we end up stepping away from it after achieving it and subconsciously attempt to project what we have learnt into our real life. But due to our inability to do so, we risk turning into a classic Aristotelian tragic hero, who are characterized as virtuous, upstanding and morally inclined, while nonetheless subject to human error. We become flawed individuals who commit, without evil intent, great wrongs or injuries that ultimately lead to our misfortune, often followed by the tragic realization of the true nature of the events that led to this destiny.
This could be avoidable, given we receive the proper knowledge and wisdom to first understand ourselves; our relation vis-a-vis the nature of our reality and the current world-wide status quo from an absolutely neutral perspective.
And so my issues with games is not solely and entirely associated to its addictive nature, because it needs to foster some level of addiction for it to be worthwhile. But game companies today selfishly take advantage of our visceral emotions for a quick buck without putting an effort into considering these implications and working around them in their game designs. Nor do they consider harnessing the addictive nature of games to teach us things that are worthwhile that would passively contribute to our advancement.
And now, with the potential rise of VR, it’s crucial for companies to put into perspective their responsibilities towards the players they ‘care about so much’ and make them the center of their attention. The repercussions of creating a game through a vastly more immersive platform could double the negative consequences players could suffer from. Therefore the aspects of the human psyche need to be reflected upon - ideally - within the game design itself. A humane design approach. Defining a meaningful purpose to the reason of conception would inevitably eliminate inadequacies in design and would consequently increase the product’s quality and value.
And so the angle I believe future games should adopt and which I myself am attempting to follow in my approach in creating my MVP (hopefully as a proof of concept), is to combine entertainment and education together with storytelling, in a seamless and intricate manner so as to harness these elements, to make the game a lot more compelling and engaging. All while attempting not to detract from the game’s experience when reflecting upon important subjects (similarly to how Christopher Nolan’s interstellar spurred our interest in science). Reflecting upon subjects such as psychology, sociology, technology, education among others.
And now with the imminent release of VR, my game will attempt to harness the technology to enhance learning through experience. Ideally, players will take off their VR headsets feeling a lot better about themselves and strengthened in real life.