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Three New Ways of Looking at War, Money and Information

August 12, 2014

Collecting a few article I think are interesting and what new ideas they are looking at in different ways…

First is a new way to look at journalism – a meshing of journalists and active citizens in a very interesting project that seeks to chart the future of news gathering. It’s also looking to new ways of funding it – asking the crowd for money as well as information.  Check it out here:

The funding deadline is almost up, I’ve backed it and think it well worth supporting.

Second is a new way to look at economicsby studding the economies of games like EVEonline

Different multiplayer game economies have different aims, but one key objective stands out: the economy helps create and hold together the social fabric of the game. Regular interaction generates interpersonal ties and trust. Having people consume the fruits of one’s digital labour generates a sense of meaning, a sense of a role to play in the community. Division of labour and the resulting mutual interdependence moreover creates solidarity and social cohesion. In short, the economy can act as a wonderful glue holding people together.

The social fabric is important to game developers, because the stronger the ties between players, the longer the players will keep playing (and paying fees). Some games developers expend considerable resources in their own style of economic research, experimenting with different exchange mechanisms and institutions to find the designs that really strengthen the social fabric. When we examine the resulting virtual economies we can see that their design choices are often very different from the choices that a conventional economist would make.

Third are new ways of looking at war in games. Traditionally games are a bit, we’ll, gung-ho about war but as games grow-up as a medium, so the range of approaches developed as Keith Stuart documents:

Most war games are about the unquestioning excitement of military action. Call of Duty, Battlefield, Sniper Elite … none of them really challenge the violence they depict or wonder what it must be like to live amid this madness – they are about soldiers fulfilling their destiny as heroes, whatever the cost. In these fantasies, civilians are only ever tests of the player’s target acquisition skills. Shoot a bystander in Call of Duty and you fail a mission. Humans are reduced to scuttling score mechanisms. But some game designers have started to think about conflict in a different way, and from different perspectives….

OK, so I’m quoted in it, but it’s a great article and well worth reading. (As are these two related Guardian articles on the war in Gaza and gaming depictions of it and how games are doing more than play).

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