Have you ever seen people play games like Garry’s Mod, Black & White, or GTA? I have been trying to figure out the purpose of the most purposeless play I have seen in games. That is the non-sequitur exploratory play found in simulation sandbox games.
Psychology is not fair game for guessing by the layman.
An interview with astrophysicists was ended with the question, “What is creativity?” Would you end an interview with a psychologist with a question about what happens in the centre of a black hole? Questions of psychology, politics, sociology, and economics are routinely asked of completely unqualified people on the assumption that basically, anyone’s guess is worthwhile. This is horrifyingly nihilistic regarding our ability to understand humans.
No problem cannot be solved with enough duct tape.
One of the most exhilarating and interesting events in games is when you have to improvise. You aren’t executing a rote formula for success, and you aren’t bumbling around randomly, but recombining knowledge to create a new strategy, tailor-made to the situation at hand. Games with procedural generation and complex systems can often create situations where necessity is the mother of invention, and player of roguelikes and emergent sandbox games will tell you how much fun that can be. But what is actually happening? And can you get better at adaptation through practice?
Are humans terrible? Is civilisation a bad idea? People don’t realise it but these ideas, along with fate, karma, and anarchy, appeal because people think that reality is a video game. But is life really a game?
In the past I have argued that humans have had a net negative influence on life and that Earth might be better off without them. I have also been tempted on occasion to say, “to hell with this silliness,” and leave the complexity of modern civilisation behind in favour of a simpler existence. But I have not been able to sustain either of these positions. They both crumble for the same reason.