Sebastian Deterding creates some of the most beautiful presentations with some of the most thoughtful commentary and this one on what he calls “gameful design” may be his best yet:
I’m reading this great book about brainwashing from the 1950s with a provocative title: “The Rape of the Mind” by Dr. Joost A.M. Meerloo. The whole of the document is online but I bought the physical print version because I didn’t know better. I picked it up just because it sounded interesting and it is with its oscillation between philosophy, psychology and sociology. But I was surprised to find some passages that are pretty influential in regards to the dichotomy between metrics-based design and intuitive design:
The world of tomorrow will witness a tremendous battle between technology and psychology. It will be a fight of technology versus nature, of systematic conditioning versus creative spontaneity. The veneration of the machine implies the turning of mechanical knowledge into power, into push-button power.
The devaluation of the individual human brain, replacing it by mechanical computers, also suggests the totalitarian system for which its citizens are compelled to become more and more the servile tools. The inhuman “system” becomes the aim, a system that is the product of technocracy and dehumanization and which may result in organized brutality and the crushing of any personal morality. In a mechanical society a set of values are forcibly imprinted on the unconscious mind, the way Pavlov conditioned his dogs.
In a technocratic world every moral problem gets repressed and is displaced by a technical or statistical evaluation. The problems of sound and speedy mathematics serve to overthrow ethics.
Technology based on this concept is cold and without moral standards of living, without faith and “feeling at home” in our own world. It continually stimulates new dissatisfaction and the production of new luxury without knowing why. It stimulates greediness and laziness without emphasizing restraint and the art of living.
It’s really a remarkable work.
On the day after the NBA champion is crowned and speculation begins on byzantine labor rules, Chuck Klosterman waxes poetic about a completely irrational NBA rule that somehow ends up making better games despite its inherent (depending on your philosophy) unfairness. Sports strive for balance; they are designed to be non-exploitable. That a minor rule has acted like an exploit for the entire modern history of professional basketball seems absurd. What is more important: a rule that dovetails with the accepted mores of the game or a rule that makes for more exciting play, even if it is generally unfair?