Saturday, January 16, 2021

A Dangerous Game??

 One of the stops along the way of my IBM career was that of Sales School Instructor in Atlanta.

That was a job where older, more seasoned IBMers, like me, conducted a two week class for newly hired IBMers who were nearing the end of their year long training program.

The class was pretty much the final stage in enculturating this malleable human capital into IBM class humans.

The job was one of the best I had in my career.

The two weeks were a mélange of lectures interspersed with play acted sales calls - the students were the salesmen and the instructors were the prospective customers (we were the new business part of IBM).

The sales calls were generally exhilarating experiences interspersed with occasional disasters.

The lectures were for me uniform disasters.

Usually the lectures I was assigned were concerning subject matter that I knew to be important and had dealt successfully with when I had been a salesman.

So I really wanted to get the material across; so I had detailed notes and adopted the pedantic style of my favorite college professors.

The students' critiques of my lectures were uniformly brutal - accurate, valid and brutal.

I am entertainer enough that I couldn't just roll over and accept that I was going to be a popular instructor - the students loved my way with sales calls - that had to get bludgeoned by totally valid post lecture critiques.

But I had no idea what to do about the problem.

One Saturday morning I was making breakfast for me and my daughter in our Alpharetta kitchen/breakfast nook; my daughter was watching cartoons on TV.

And it hit me.

The students I was trying to impart important information to had never been without cartoons being ubiquitously available; if I wanted to get their attention I was going to have to come at them like Bugs Bunny.

I won't take the time to describe how I did that, but I did, and the critiques improved a lot; presumably more information was imparted, but that, after all, was not the point.

The point was the critiques and how high they rated me.


I am not a gamester.

And I just learned from a New Yorker News Hour broadcast that that may be one reason why I am not into Q anon.

The broadcast featured a technologist who has a deep game playing and game building background; he is CEO of a such type company.

He went through, item by item, all the game stuff that is part of the Q conspiracy.

And I think I heard him say that the design of Q anon has to be the result of a deeply experienced gamester, like him; when asked to speculate about who he wouldn't.

Or couldn't.

Or shouldn't.

However, based upon his belief that there has been an expert game hand designing and maintaining Q anon, he says it's not a conspiracy theory; it's a game.

And that's why it's so dangerous: digital games can and do co-opt people in a way that produces a mass of homogeneous group think that is frequently - usually - misogynistic, hostile and violent.

So there we are.

So much for unity.

Near the end of the interview the game technologist was asked if the solution to this particular monster that has been created would be an equally compelling game.

He said no.

He said games in the final analysis are not compelling in themselves no matter how compelling their rules and protocols, and their adrenalin rush might be; those aspects build the follower base, but that points to the real thing that make games grow and build their effects and messages: they, in the final analysis are compelling and welcoming communities.

The only thing, he said, that he could think of as an antidote to Q anon, would be the creation of an equal and offsetting community; and he said it would need to be supported by massively welcoming supremely simple message videos.

Like cartoons, he said.

It took me back to my Sales School job.

But then, I've always been ahead of my time.

No comments:

Post a Comment