Thursday, 8 March 2007

Week 2 - What Motivates us to Play Games?

At the beginning of the lesson we played chess.

Jason talked to us about the history of chess and how it was created (or at least initiated) by a woman. Chess came about as replacement for war games. The first simulation.
The people who played chess were often opposing leaders, who were to resolve conflict by the strategic outcome of a chess match. The opponents were very likely to be restrained by bodyguards in case one of the participants became angry and tried to kill the other during the game.

The opponent may take conscious psychological measures [as in poker] in order to influence the other that he is better and/or smarter, or to distract - by appearing confident / talking a lot / utilizing body language techniques etc. The opposite may also be observed, where a player isn't conscious of his behaviour, and may be displaying language that shows him to be unconfident or confident. However this isn't a fast rule, as the other may be completely oblivious to the others physical actions outside the moves he makes.

We also played poker to demonstrate to us this psychological warfare in one of it's most famous contexts - across the poker table...

What was up for grabs was our marks.
Jason convinced the naive amongst us that each chip was worth a mark. If we lost all our chips at the end... then we would in effect - fail this paper, if we won, then we could get up to 100% for the paper . Jason backed it up with stating he had verbal confirmation from John Piper [program leader] that this would be concrete.

An interesting tactic which of course made the players a lot more wary and focused. Even those who had suspicions for the truth in Jasons' ultimatum were still uncertain. For what if it had been true??? An example of fear in action.

If there had been nothing to lose or gain (except our self-esteem) then naturally the players would have been a lot more reckless and careless about placing bets.

Evidently the game was rife with body language cues... an eye movement here, a change in posture and arm positioning, a scratch there... you get the idea.
Some of the more observant and perceptive players may have picked up on this behaviour, consciously or subconsciously. The point was, that each bet presented itself as a risk. The reward being higher grades. The risk? Failing.

A perfect example of fight or flight.

Jason told us about evolution and how only those who are fearful will progress. Fear is the fundamental motivator in virtually all elements of life. Social interaction, self improvement, work, love.

This was of course debated by the class, however Jason backed himself up every time with some example of fear preceding any other emotion or decision. Whether we are aware of fear rearing its head in our head or not, it is hardwired into our brains. We are naturally scared of heights because if our ancestors had not been fearful of this imminent danger, then the likelihood of us being here today is unlikely.
Survival of the fit.

The importance of reproduction was also discussed. We are sure of only one thing in this life - that we will die. So the act of producing offspring is necessary to pass on our knowledge and genes to later generations.
In fact, if we don't reproduce, then most of us will feel remorse at not doing so. These emotions may occur early in life or later on. When a woman approaches menopause, they often have an acute need to have children. This comes back to fear... what if the woman doesn't have a baby? They will regret this action for not experiencing motherhood. However some may prefer to adopt a child. Which isn't evolutionary however the child will take on many of the characteristics of the parents, so there is still opportunity for evolution - even if it is unrelated. I think this is rooted in the desire to teach others. Which is itself rooted in fear and guilt of knowing something and not sharing it... the possibility of dying without passing on wisdom and information. We teach our friends by engaging in conversation - sharing ideas, experiences, quotes, jokes, gossip and so on.

We are also wary of the unknown. That which cannot be explained. We tend not to trust things that haven't been proven by someone we trust, or that which we haven't experienced for ourselves. Perception is reality. Fear is the motivator.

This wariness can spur curiousity. Fear breeds motivation. We may walk down a dark alley because we are curious.
We eavesdrop for the same reason, to know the unknown, to experience the other...

Watching reality TV, travelling, reading, diving, bungee jumping...
These are examples of our desire to experience alternate realities.

Fear of inferiority. Of rejection.
Making the audience feel superior is the one of the fundamental principles of comedy.
When we laugh at anothers' joke we temporarily give ourselves over to that person. It is practically impossible to hate someone with whom you laughed with.
There is a need to feel better than the other person. This may seem to contradict the previously stated rule of teaching others, however teaching also makes the teacher feel superior because a teachers' position is one of authority, of knowing more than the other.
We feel a need to prove ourselves to others. That we are smart. Fear.

Survival =

Fear - Curiousity - Reproduction - Imitation - Superiority - Motivation - Risk

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