I realize that a series links can seem ultimately uninformative of what I was really trying to get across, so I decided to go back and write some explanation for the groundwork.
Schools Kill Creativity: We have enormous human potential. We waste almost all of it.
Drive: Incentive structures don't work for creative tasks. What does work for creative tasks is the fact that people WANT to do well to begin with.
Secret Powers of Time: We perceive time differently based on culture and personality.
Empathic Civilization: People are naturally empathetic, if we see someone else in distress we are biologically hardwired to feel their distress as well.
The Four Act Structure: The four act structure is a system of organize a stageplay into 4 acts, intro, everything goes wrong, hero overcomes the setbacks, final battle and resolution.
Ira Glass on Storytelling: Storytelling is best done in broadcast as anecdotes, a series of acts connected by causality, and with questions that it is infered you will answer during the "moment of reflection."
How to Start a Movement: A movement is not solely about a leader, in fact most people in a movement are not following the leader directly, they are following the first or second follower who tend to be the engine of teaching others how to enter the movement.
Teaching One Child at a Time: Don't wait until you can do everything before you do what you can. If you do what you can, what you can do will increase. In fact it's very rare for what you can do to increase at all without you already doing something.
Flow and Counter-Flow: Contemplation is not anathema to games, it's an element for use at your disposal. Just as great musicians know that silence is also a tool in a musical composition.
The remainder of my articles: Never assume that I'm talking about things in the context of present games, I'm simply not. As someone so marvelously revealed to me, I've had a chicken moment (http://spinksville.wordpress.com/2010/07/08/realid-around-the-web-the-future-will-be-written-in-chicken/) and I don't necessarily expect everyone to always get what I'm saying. Still, I already have a concept of a compelling non-combat mmo, of a societally heavy game that has pvp without becoming a wolf vs sheep dichotomy. These may not have come fully into being, but I have the road maps to those points available to me, I accept them as possible destinations for the industry. On the single player side... well I'll be talking more about Pax Imperator in a bit.
So what does this all mean? What narrative am I weaving out of these points of thought?
First I want to get one point of philosophy out of the way. It is my belief that sentience and tool usage is the final pinnacle of evolution. The reason is, we can now evolve ourselves. If we find that we have, say, a terrible gene that is killing us, we can intelligently act to remove it. Should we find that we cannot communicate fast enough, we can do research and find a new faster form of communication. This is somewhat of a simplification, but overall the point stands, we CAN BE anything we WANT TO, so long as we are willing to make it the priority and put in the work required for it to happen.
Given that, the most important resource to our future survival is how well we leverage human potential towards a desired future. What scares me is, we are terrible wasters of human potential. The good news is we're better than we've ever been, the bad news is we've never previously been anything besides completely and utterly inept. In order to move forward in that field we need several major paradigm shifts. Three factors play the largest part in making that change possible.
First is the creation of systems for the communication of important information. With the advent of the internet we are crushed by an ever growing constant torrent of information. So much so that very few systems are able to keep up with this flow of information and turn it into something people can use, and as far as I can tell all of them have been invented for the sole purpose of handling the internet. Wikipedia, it's entertainment cousin TVTropes, google maps, search engines, etc... and so forth. Second is education, I don't think I have to go out on a limb to declare that our education system both in America and around the globe is starting to show serious signs of structural failure. Now I actually do see a lot of value in something like a college degree in that it provides me a level of certainty as to the kind of foundation a persons learning has. The problem though, is that we are spending 18 years of education to prepare for college that a massive number of students either won't go to or won't graduate from, and that won't really be worth that much once they have graduated 4-6 years later. On top of that, we are sticking to the worst parts of our educational institutions analog roots and finding that they simply fail to have any impact at all with children who are growing up in a digital age, and often rightly realizing that their mastery of digital mediums will be far more valuable in the long run than their ability to sit still in class for 8 hours. The last is organization. We have more and more organizations popping up all the time, still only a very small percentage of that has any goals or plans over 10 years. We need more long term organizations, and more people who know how to be effective in the tasks of organization. Also in the modern world, it's not a matter of solely local organizations, there are many fields where global organizations are required in order to make the most of it's membership.
Modern games are at the crossroads of these three issues. A game designer is a systems designer with a sense of fun, I always say, and it is in fact our job to generate and communicate information efficiently and such that the important information is understood immediately. Learning is one of the key elements of fun, and games are definitely teaching machines even if we haven't decided to teach anything all that important just yet. Finally, for online games we have thus far been leaving our communities basically to their own devices, I don't think that's good enough. Note, I'm not advocating some sort of authoritarian dictatorship of your community, I'm advocating that we channel our community resources into equipping our players with the tools, information, and training they need to become effective organizers.
There are also some points I'll be going into in later posts about things I've learned while making my games. About work ethics and the power, or sometimes the lack thereof, of ideas, and some of those speeches I link speak to details about those that have come from other fields. In order to be effective, we will need new metrics. What we measure now is not going to help us get better so we need new measurements and systems of collection. On the matter of storytelling, the ability to tell stories is a key component of people's lives and it would be to our shame to abandon that in favor of pretty explosions. Our gameplay needs to connect with higher parts of people's mind, and the only way to do that is story, written, spoken, ludic or otherwise.