In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Indiana and his companions are searching for one of the clues that will lead them to the holy grail they go to a library and look for symbols to help them on their journey. They find two of the symbols-Roman numerals- but are stumped when searching for the numeral ten (X). It is only when Indiana looks from a higher perspective that they see that they have been standing on a giant X the entire time.
I think it is that way in society as well. Mankind is constantly looking to grow and become better, but how can we be sure that our choices and the directions we decide to go in are correct? I heard the phrase “cultural growth” recently, and although I don’t remember the source it got me thinking. What defines growth? How can one be sure that a culture is headed in the right direction and the supposed growth is not the beginnings of a cancerous tumor?
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that culture or society should remain stagnant and unchanging. Without considering other ways of doing things and integrating new ideas a nation cannot survive, especially in the modern world with its free flow of information. It is simply interesting to note how cultural critics and progressive thinkers are so positive that the changes that they seek are correct.
History can shed some light on the impact of man’s choices upon his environment. Lessons of the past inform us of mistakes in theories and actions. Without historical examples to point to, how would we even know where we stand in regards to liberty, equality, enlightened thinking, and moral standards?
However even history fails in the end. Every situation is unique; every people instilled with a different set of values and expectations. Technology and what we know about the universe is changing every day. People are deluged with a flood of conflicting information without compass or guide to determine what is true or noble. In a certain sense we are more blind now than all our ancestors were. Despite the amazing advancement the human race has undergone in the past 200 years we still can’t look beyond the present with any certainty. No one can know for certain the long term effects of daily events, and unlike Indiana Jones we cannot simply get a “better view.”
I say this not to be pessimistic, but simply as an observation. Before we commit to a course of action we should think about the consequences to ourselves, loved ones, and our fellow human beings. As only the long, backward gaze of history, and ultimately the wisdom of God can show us the right or wrong of our decisions I think we owe it to both of them to be as responsible and as careful as we can.
Holy wow its been a long time since I posted! My apologies friends, I did not foresee my writing apathy would extend beyond my schoolwork. It is a depressing feeling being so sick of writing papers, book reports, and target market summaries that it affects my passion for my other writing projects.
Thankfully now I am done with school for the summer, and I have many ambitious plans for spending my time. First of all I’m going to start posting more on this blog. Although my recent writing inclinations have leaned towards the political and religious I will spare everyone the task of slogging through those types of posts. I think that the work I do in that vein will be mostly for myself, a way of getting my thoughts in order and bringing in references and a sense of concreteness to my ideology.
To me the concept of a manifesto is one I associate with Communism or hippies trying to “fight the system, man”. But now that I think about it, I don’t think there are enough manifestos out there. Not the kind that you print out at Kinko’s and hand out on your local college campus, but a more personal document. A list of your beliefs, views, and hopes for the future.
When you are forced to write down what you believe and find support for it, you begin to get a better grasp of your own thought processes and ca match up new information with what you hold to be true. Part of the reason that I think so many people today are adrift in the ocean of their own lives is that they don’t know what to believe or why to believe it. Everything is based on emotion; it’s about what makes them feel good at the moment.
Maybe I will share this document here when it is finished, but the primary motivation is personal. I don’t intend to convince anyone with this document or start any debates. I think of it as an exploration in rhetoric, a research project, and above all a statement of personal doctrine.
Wish me luck!
There are few things that can bring people together and break through barriers like a game can. This is one of the primary reasons I love gaming. The framework it provides for social interaction is unlike any other activity. Whether it is a card game, board game, or role playing game face-to-face gaming is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to meet new people.
When you think about it, what makes meeting people and breaking the ice so difficult? For me it is the lack of shared experiences. Conversation and interactions are all based off of the experiences of each individual, but true friendships are formed only when those people share an experience with each other. Games provide that experience immediately by breaking through social stigmas and becoming a platform for interaction.
- Games provide rules. Rules determine the “social norms” of the game and allow everyone to act and become comfortable within those norms. Since everybody knows them, everyone knows what to expect and how to act.
- Games can often times provide a shared goal. Games that involve teamwork immediately give a reason for people to work together and interact. Even competitive games usually have a single goal that is wanted by all the players.
Games and game mechanics can also provide value in other ways. In Aaron Dignan’s book Game Frame he addresses the two causes or sources of the apparent apathy of many young people. First there is a lack of volition. Volition is the will to do something; it is what motivates us to take action. Faculty is our confidence that we have the skills and expertise to accomplish something.
Often times people limit themselves because they lack either volition or faculty. Games can change this by providing what Dignan calls “flow.” Flow is a state where a person’s skills and expectations rise at the same approximate level as the challenges he or she faces. If a challenge is to hard and our skill level too low it creates anxiety, whereas if our skills are more than adequate for the challenge then we become bored.
Games optimize flow so that when you first start out you are confronted with challenges that you can overcome with a limited skill set. As your skills grow so do the challenges. This provides a strong model on which to improve skills and confidence.
These are just a few things that games can teach us, and only part of the reason I love them so much. If you are interested in this topic I suggest you check out Game Frame or the work of Jane McGonigal.