Monday, 31 March 2014

Random Creation

Not too long ago I called video game forums collectively a cesspool of crybabies.  I think the dynamic that exists on these forums is a very problematic one.  First of all, only a small fraction of people who play games read or post on the forums for those games.  Secondly, the people who do tend to be the people who are most dedicated to the game.

So when a forum is full of posts saying that the developers have ruined the game and that the forum-goers are quitting, this is actually indicative of almost nothing.  For the most part those forum-goers are not really quitting and there is no way to know whether their comments are representative of the feelings of the larger player base or not.

But there is one thing that these posts do represent, and that is the feelings of the people who make them.  While the concept of "trolling" is often invoked, the majority of people who are called "trolls" are actually get people who are have different opinions or who have intense feelings that they aren't good are regulating.  I even suspect that the majority of people who would describe their own activities as "trolling" are just trying to cover up their own emotional involvement, sort of like a retroactive, "I was joking," after a stupid comment from a celebrity.  Similarly, I have to imagine the majority of people said to be "astro-turfing" political discussions genuinely believe in the position they hold.

And the feelings of the people who care most about the game are presumably something we can learn something from.  We all know that people don't like change, but it's important not to lose sight of the fact that people especially don't like stupid changes that make things worse and they are a lot more forgiving to brilliant changes that make things better.

I'm a huge fan of Zarathustra but the thing that Zarathustra got completely wrong is he didn't realize that the invisible graveyard of failures feeds the success of the Overman.  If there are a million stupid ideas and one good idea then it's a safe bet that the good idea would not exist without the stupid ones.  The fact of that situation is that the good idea is a random occurrence made possible by the million and one chances.

All of that fury on the forums is the pool from which greatness may arise.  Rather than a cesspool I should think of it more as a toxic primordial soup just waiting for the conditions to arise for the formation of life.  That doesn't mean you should spend your time reading the forums, and it doesn't even necessarily mean that the forums should even exist - good ideas could percolate through other media that don't give so much voice to so much of the chaff.

No comments:

Post a Comment