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  • "This above all: games are not valuable because they can teach someone a skill or make the world a better place. Like other forms of cultural expression, games and play are important because they are beautiful."
  • I take slight umbrage with this, as it downplays the virtues of meaning in art forms. While it is no less true that art for the sake of art is vitally important to our culture, it feels like it undervalues pieces that were created with an express meaning or intent, and reduces those with deep meaning to a shallow quantifier of "beauty." However, I can also see how saying a game deserves to exist because its beautiful helps to lock out any sort of elitism in culture. Personally, I feel like a balance needs to be made between the two: we need to openly recognize that, because a game is beautiful it deserves to exist, but that should not be only merit on which games are judged.


  • "In the last few decades, information has taken a playful turn. To take a prime example, Wikipedia is not about users accessing a storehouse of expert knowledge. It is a messy, chaotic community in which the users are also the experts, who together create the information while also evolving the system as a whole."
  • This seems like a passage that could have been left out of an otherwise fine manifesto. Wikipedia isn't a marvel achievement in the dissemination of information. It's a passageway to more credible sources, sure. I'm just not seeing how the "play" element is exemplified here in a way that is beneficial. All it seems to do is produce more questions around what it means for something to be true. Sure, this is addressed briefly in calling it "messy" and "chaotic," but how is that "evolving the system as a whole"?


  • "And play constitutes pushback against the boundaries of a system established by rules. Man-made systems – the tax system, the school system, society as a whole – can be oppressive. In a world increasingly dominated by such systems, play could become a crucial even subversive act."

It's a shame that the AAA publishing industry feeds into these oppressive man-made systems. So often do publishers (EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Warner Bros., etc.) take games and ruin them by shoe-horning their money grubbing tactics into them and focus testing them into obsolescence. What will it take for Publishing to be a business of history; they're pointless except for marketing, really (and they take all the money and ownership of the thing they didn't create). If people got as mad about that as they did about people taking credit for "classic art" we'd probably live in a different gaming world. Through out the past almost 20 years, publishers have said many things "are dead": Console gaming, survival horror games, and single player experiences. Why have they said these things are dead when they're clearly not? They couldn't make as much money. They've been saying single player is dead for almost 10 years now, but the past year has been, some would say, the golden age of single player. But the publishers can't rationally put micro-transactions into a single player game (but that hasn't stopped some of them). Games could and are, in some cases, used as a commentary on the world so a wider audience can begin to understand a larger issue. Right now, the gaming community is rife with people who defend this bullshit because they don't see how it could be different and the y believe the lies fed to them by the publishers themselves.


“This above all: games are not valuable because they can teach someone a skill or make the world a better place. Like other forms of cultural expression, games and play are important because they are beautiful.”

This is the most fundamental of all forms of play, to have something that is not only engaging in a cognitive since, but also to have a game be nice to look at, and feel, to have a form of play that wants to be played out of a desire for not only the game its self but also the autistic quality of the game. To be a part of the ludic world is to do it out a want to, and play for the sake of playing, not because someone told us we have to, but because we think it is a cool thing to be doing. This plays in to the " epic win" ideology that one can develop an optimizing to solve even the most challenging of problems no matter how hard they be, or impossible they seem. This the kind of human drive that will drive us to achieve (and already has) more then we ever thought that we could.


"The neurologist Simon Baron-Cohen argues that there are two kinds of brains: one hardwired for empathy and one hardwired for building and understanding systems. (The former is usually a female brain and the latter a male brain, in Baron-Cohen’s account – but let’s put that aside for now.) He writes: 'Empathizing is the drive to identify another person’s emotions and thoughts, and to respond to them with an appropriate emotion.' Systemizing, on the other hand, 'is the drive to analyze, explore and construct a system.' "

I know that this is only a brief paraphrasing of his research, but it seems like every generation of scientists has their own binary thinking (such as "left-brained vs right-brained" people), and each time science proves that it is infinitely more complicated than what the binary theory suggests. To illustrate this, some of the most logistical, systematic thinkers I've met have also been empathetic as well. It's an interesting concept that games might be conditioning people to be more systematic thinkers, however. I think McGonigall (from the TED talk) did a great job in explaining that we can use this systematic thinking for greater good, which requires empathy to even care about doing good, so perhaps soon Baron-Cohen's binary theory will be completely disproved.