RPGs, interconnectiveness, psych-profiling and Big Brother

I’ve recently (better late than never) have gotten majorly into RPGs as a game genre, after years of RTS and FPS… mostly because the stories in RPGs are far more complex, detailed, insightful, and entertaining, unlike the linearity of FPSs and an equally linear set of ‘rules’ that inevitably evolve in any RTS you play too long.

But never mind that; the really interesting thing is, because of the realism, and the reasonably open-ended nature of gameplay, RPGs can offer a very interesting set of moral choices to be made as you progress. The ultimate objective is still the same; but how you reach it can vary.

And most games now are coming with a social component – sharing achievements, online communities, virtual personas. It’s not just sitting in your HDD anymore; new games can import the choices made in previous versions, keep the story going. With FB Connect, they know exactly who you are; the real you, not a virtual identity, an anonymous game character.

Ever though of the implications in psychoanalysis, law enforcement?

It can be a healing tool – teaching socially dysfunctional patients how to interact with normal society, monitoring the progress of their reintegration by their in-game behavior, the choices they make.

It can be, on a darker note, a profiler as well. What would you say about the mind of a person who, even in a fantasy world, always makes the choice between good and evil in a particular direction? One who chooses to sacrifice team-mates for personal advancement? One who has an extensive collection of sniper-weapon games, and has ranked up the highest scores? One who, in a open, sandbox-style scenario, chooses to be even more vicious and psychopathic than even the escapist game intended? I’m not talking about stealing cars in GTA; I’m talking of running the driver over after, then going on a full-on vehicular manslaughter rampage. Would you, as a law enforcer, like a list of the people in your neighborhood who have been tagged with certain game-behavior red flags as potential problems?

Games are getting more and more realistic every day. They began as an escape from reality, but that escape is coming full circle right back into the reality it offered a relief from. And there are no psychological checks and balances.

A Sense of Destiny

Watch the above video first.

For a long time, every time I opened the paper, or switched on the news, I would experience a sense of complete hopelessness – war, corruption, destruction and squandering of the planet’s resources for personal gain, struggling for basic necessities and needs… it was a bleak picture, and I would wonder if there was any point to it – things just seemed to be getting worse all the time.

Then, a few days ago, I was involved in a project which required us to think seriously about the future, in a organized, limited, disciplined way. And that was the tipping point – while the overall totality was too large, too painful to take in, by examining it one small slice at a time, I can see a way out.

‘The internet of things’. Machines, devices, some dumb on-off switches, some superintelligent and superconnected… all talking to each other and to us. A neural network for the planet.

Imagine a future where a car cannot overspeed, a dangerous construction project doesn’t get sanctioned, an illegal construction finds it’s machinery switched off. A missile that doesn’t detonate. Money that cannot be accepted under the table. Everything transparent, everything self-aware, and most important of all, everything that knows what’s going on – and the difference between right and wrong. A benevolent Skynet.

Information overload is what allows today’s inequities to be perpetrated – we created laws to bring order to the chaos of an exploding population. The same laws today are clogged with the sheer volume of the demands placed upon them – there is so much to do, and the entire system will proceed with the speed of it’s slowest link – the reading speed of a judge, the clerk who has to file a physical piece of paper, all the checks and balances that need to be manually activated. It creates a loophole where restraint of unjust action becomes an escape route for unjust action, coming from the other side.

Imagine a world where the slowest link is gone. All the information you might ever need is immediately available, instantly, transparently, and it’s actionable. Minds that never sleep, never die, and that don;t need money, food, drink, or vice, are watching it to make sure it works. And they’ve been programmed to do it right. And they’re all interconnected – so nothing disappears. Nothing goes off the grid. Rules actually become enforceable, instead of suspended until proved. Everything’s already proved.

There may be more wars. There may be a Big Brother state. There may be crime, famine, disasters. But slowly, inevitably, the world is moving in a certain direction, and it’s impossible to stop it. All that we see around us – all the signs that say, “The end is nigh” – these are all symptoms of a greater change, an irresistible, inevitable change.

It’s going to be the greatest Renaissance of all – a new chapter in evolution. A new way to live. A new Life.

All we need to do… is survive it.

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