Random Thoughts on Games

Our goal as players is to understand a game so well that it ceases to be fun or surprising. The goal of the game is to resist our thoughts in such a way that this does not happen, while also not being completely incomprehensible.

Surprise comes from that which we did not predict, the perfect player has no such lapses in predictive power. The player seeks ever more predictive power, he builds ever more nuanced models of the game in his mind and refines them through his experience.

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Egocentrism and Narcissism

There are two conflicting views of the world, one that I will call egocentric and another that I will call narcissistic. Both of these views have associated urges – deep-rooted reasons related to the functioning of our minds that might drive us to instinctively adopt one view or the other. These views seem to me to have some explanatory power in the realm of politics, as they affect how we view the world. Everyone engages with both of these views to some degree, but I think each end of the political spectrum favours one over the other.

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Systemic Information In Games

Just as with neurology, where impairments due to injury can tell us a lot about the structural layout of the brain, dysfunction in games can tell us something about their properties. One such dysfunctional state occurs when a game is solved, or mastered, or “dead”. When we have mastered a game completely it ceases to hold our interest, and so for the master it ceases to serve any function. From this we can determine that there are two vital elements in games, at least one of which must be a source of pleasure and a motivator; the sensation of improving or gaining mastery, and the acquisition of new information – learning.

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Controlling your mental state

In this essay I use the terms ‘emotion’ and ‘mental state’ interchangeably. I think they are largely the same thing, the commonly recognised emotions are simply the clearest and most consistent mental states people experience.

I have recently become interested in the idea of exerting control over my mental state. Most people live their lives entirely responding to outside stimuli, having their emotions and behaviours dictated by the events they are subjected to. But it has become clear to me that we have a lot more control over the state of our own minds than we think, and that this concept is rarely mentioned in our society.
It seems only natural that we respond emotionally to the things that happen to us, but thinking about emotions and their Darwinian origins have made me realise that they serve a few basic functions.

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