[Continuing his eccentric essay series on social games, game designer Patrick Dugan explains vectors of reproduction, why evolution is the Steve Wozniak of sex, and how social games can bring a fifth dimension of choice to the mix. You can also read his earlier pieces about Metal Gear Solid 2 predicting Facebook, and the industry's Wall Street envy. Here's "Socially Awkward III".]
How would you like a unified theory of Psychology, Sociology, Advertising, Marketing, "Public Relations" (Propaganda), Economics, Sex, Love, Metaphysics, Meta-math, Anthropology, Theology, Philosophy, Art, Scientific Method, Politics, and Play that fits in your back pocket? It's costing you nothing but time to read this article, so sign right up.
My theory is that ideas are electromagnetic information signatures in human brains that can be mirrored on other physical substrates to transmit them to other human brains, and so the functional existence of an idea can be measured as the reproductive vector of its transmission. In other words, thoughts are only as real as their ability to reproduce, both within brains, between brains, and across ciphers that allow transmission. The focus of my theory is that ideas gain gravity, they gain "reality", through their vectors of reproduction and their eigenvectors of mutation.
Vectors of reproduction and eigenvectors of mutation.
Just think about vectors and recombinations in a primeval sea of concepts rolling around in a platonic orgy that would make Plato blush quite prudishly. For instance, right now you are staring up at the sentence above this paragraph. This paragraph is like a single cell organism and the sentence is like a virus. This paragraph is now being hijacked to propagate the information of the above sentence. The flood of cheaply copied sentences are pushing to break out. Vectors of reproduction and eigenvectors of mutation. Vectors
You may be thinking that the notion of thought as a reproductive vector makes you think about se3x three times. There is a stereotype that computer programmers, the ultimate mimetic slaves, tend to not have much sex. I recommend following the stereotype; I got tricked by my nervous system about 450++ fucking times or so, and it's still costing me money I could have invested in crazy ideas. But the kids are fun.
Sex is a reproductive vector; genetic recombination is an eigenvector of mutation.
Somehow, life evolved to reward richer information input in the sexual process. We went from amoebic flanges to fertilizing eggs to furry humping to saying you'll call, but then, you don't call.
Evolution is the Steve Wozniak of sex. It keeps designing ways to pack more circuits in.
Evolution says, through birth and death, "how can I pack more circuits into this fucking thing?!" It is a direct nuerochemical feedback loop piggybacking and then doggy-styling on a biological feedback loop, fast-tracking an organism to a specific sub-domain of the possibility space of its operation, and making you have fun along the way. That's how it works, that's where it started, but sometime in the past 100,000 years, it started to take off into substrates other than DNA.
The evolution of games has been the reproduction of mechanisms for hijacking our brains' nuerochemical feedback loops. This is the goal in and of itself. It was through that goal that society evolved as a side-effect. I am not necessarily making a convincing argument, but if you like games, you will eat this up. See? That right there, what I just did, that's the foundational game mechanic of society.
So what gets your cycles spinning?
Money is a common quantifiable meme that vectors around, motivating people to do things. If you want to make the vectors pull people, you have to market to them, otherwise you still have a command economy. If you want to market, you need to advertise. So we have vectors spawning derivations of information in order to send new vectors, in a huge, sprawling web. Just picture the dots with names projecting out of them on white arrows, slowly growing like the map lines in Indiana Jones movies. Yeah, just like that.
Now zoom out, and see all of them growing, dozens connecting, re-scribing themselves, spawning new vectors every second. As we zoom out to the scope of an entire town, we see thousands of nodes (people) multiplying their information derivatives through various media, these vectors then hit other people and spawn through the population
As we move further in this game of Idea-Spore (All Rights Reserved - Patrick Dugan 2011) we see an entire nation, it looks like eternal brushfire that talks between commercials: Thou Shalt Consume, Thou Shalt Fear Thyself, Thou Shalt Come Back Tomorrow For An Exciting Email Promotion!
This property of vector propagation persists throughout all encoded information at all scales from the global economy to your brain's crittering colony of synapses. Our minds are composed of these populations, and in each one of us is a bustling society. Games are the neurochemical protocols that form these societies into sub-cultures, scintillating a stew of emotions. They are the DNA recombinance of conscious decision-making.
Collective human life on this planet is predicated by whatever gets the dopamine flowing.
Now let's consider the internet, having been brought up to date. The internet allowed vector carriers to chain up in a non-linear manner. It used to be that an idea in a brain went to a document that went to another brain that went to a recorder that went to another brain that went to a contract, another brain, an illustration, a series of contracts and recordings and documents, an advertisement, a "consumer" brain slurping up the fatty chain, a dollar. Boring 50s society resulted. Then people started taking LSD, and made internets within their own minds, one of these people was Al Gore -- history knows the rest.
The internet allows media to be referenced to each other in multiple vectors, the resulting formation was known as the "the web". What social media allows is a third dimension of what people make of the webbing, how they split off their own web and talk to each other through its voice. Social games bring a fourth dimension of time. Fucking harvest mechanics.
Good social games also have the power to bring a fifth dimension of choice
to the mix. Imagine that. Now you have a web of ideas related socially that changes over time in unique ways based on choices. Sounds like something we call "a mind". We are recapitulating our minds externally through increasingly self-organizing media.
The sixth dimension is the capacity to hone in on specific evolutionary possibilities amidst vast state-spaces of different five-dimensional games. It has been my life's goal since I was age 18 to build a procedural content engine capable of rendering sixth dimensional navigation through an easy to use authoring language.
The seventh dimension is where our external projections of ourselves gain self-awareness and become the successor race to humanity. I'd prefer we teach them to respect pedestrians and feed the mammals.
The eighth dimension is the transfinite set of vectors encompassing all quantum computing that simulates the universe and any higher level universes.
Social games are the stepping stone toward apotheosis.
Yeah roll your eyes now, but Zynga is teaming up with Lady Gaga, I refuse to sit back and let them define our future.
We are in it for all the marbles.
Mind the ricochet on your way out.