Introduction: The Rigged Game
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One conversation has the power to change how you think about everything.
Are you ready to start that conversation?
According to renowned psychologist, Abraham Maslow, an individual’s ultimate need is to self-actualize, or to reach their full potential. Self-actualization is just like a seed eventually growing into a flower. However, the majority of the population is at the bottom of the Maslow’s pyramid; which can be seen in the inequality of wealth.
For example, by 2010, the top 1% of Americans possessed 35.4% of the national net wealth (property, stocks, assets, etc), while the bottom 95% held 36.9% (Source). Regarding financial wealth, the top 20% of the population controls 93%, while the bottom 80% only controls 7% (Source). There are a multitude of barriers in the way of people gaining the wealth necessary to reach self-actualization, as it seems, the main barrier is our current economic system.
What is a System?
A system is a combination of various parts that form a whole in an orderly fashion for a definite purpose. If we look into it, a game is really a living system. Let’s break down what a system is again and compare it to a game.
A system is a combination of various parts that form a whole…
The parts that form a game are the players, game mechanics, game dynamics, and aesthetics.
Examples of game mechanics are points, levels, and progress bars; the building blocks of a game – ways to provide feedback to the player.
Examples of game dynamics are tasks or challenges that are rewarded when completed; action-oriented motivations.
Aesthetics are the side effects players experience when playing such as expression, discovery, fellowship, and challenge.
…in an orderly fashion...
The game rules
…for a definite purpose.
The goal(s) of the game
In this game we are born in, people and organizations are the players, points are money, levels are socio-economic groups, badges can be material wealth or credentials, tasks can be people going to work for 8 hours and getting rewarded with wages, and so on. The rules are hidden to most people, however, once you’ve become aware of them, the world has a brand new view. Instead of having the sole viewpoint of a player, you now have that added advantage of also having one of a game designer.
It’s like analyzing an ant farm instead of being one of the ants. You see how the maze is structured, the dead ends, the traps, stores of food, etc. You see how the ants are divided into colonies. You also notice how they react to rewards. Most of all, you see a system running on its own. The ants aren’t being physically forced to do anything, yet they voluntarily play their part. Every ant farm has a designer(s) who studies the behavior of the ants. Essentially, the designers regulate the ants’ lives through a subtle force which we can call a system (or a game). The ants are so caught up in it that they don’t realize they’re being guided through a journey. I use this analogy because it’s very similar to how humans function in society.
I believe games are very powerful. For that reason, I’m going to share a secret with you as to why I feel that way.
A game is the only way to get people to take predictable action without force.
(inspired by Gabe Zichermann)
The goals of this book are to help you become aware of the problems of the game we’re currently playing, and how we can create a new, parallel one that removes the barriers to self-actualization. Yes, there’s a way to make it happen without starting any violent revolutions or breaking any laws. However, in order for this to happen, we need to put on a new pair of lenses. We’ll need to view society from a designer’s point of view; just like the ant farmer.