Looking for the concept [2 of 3]
This is the second part out of three of a manifest about My Little Humanity's creative process. They're not in a perfect English, but even though I feel important to write them down. (Spanish version here)
Linking the material world (resources, technology, population) with an ideological one (philosophy, art, science)
Part of what got me started on making this game is to convey a sense of how everything we approve and disapprove, all of our tastes, all our sentences, anything we produce and consume, are children of a time and a space. We do this partly because we belong to that world.
But we don't repeat everything. Many times we go against the current, that's where we want to change the established, and for it we disapprove what is generally accepted, we like new things so far considered ugly, and we also perform actions or works that encourage changes in others.
That is when we break the paradigm.
And when we talk about large-scale changes, that is where the boat is going to other seas ... it physically changes because of an ideological shift.
It may not be a game...
There're certain elements in games that, as personal taste, already tired me a bit. Those are ultra fast games with chiptune music. I guess they were fine, now I feel them uninteresting.
I feel that with my game, I went a little to the other end, making it more rational, less physical, with ambient music. I relate it more to an 'interactive experience' that what is commonly called game.
I also wanted to implement the idea of a "boring game", a game that does not use known hooks that make the mind surrenders to the fun and, in the worst case, leaving no room for reflection.
But there is another kind of fun, one in which the mind does not surrender, but is immersed, still conscious, with the lights on, in which the player is free to emerge when she wants, even while playing.
I thought that in this way, the player could naturalize (immerse) and then denaturalize (emerge) the mechanism. She could rationalize, and evidence it.
Back to the hypothesis
And it ended up being a 'game', or maybe it's an essay, an experiment, an educational game. In short, my hypothesis says that:
A collective ideological shift takes place when people perceive material change as a necessity.
Young people try to be part of a world that is not made for them, out of synch with their material reality. Thus, to change their reality, they feel forced to think differently from their predecessors, and collide with the previous predominant ideology, that most of the time is more related to the image of a very different world, a world where they grew up.
It's the young who see and feel the new world issues, such as ecological disasters, that has a very different weight if the person knows that is going to live it and those who not; and there are many small changes in attitudes that are aware of the need for change, probably not very understandable by past generations.
It's all possibly related with this quote
“It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.” Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy
I didn't started from this idea, but I found in the way that my pose was possibly related to the Historical Materialism. I won't go further because I don't have a proper reading of the subject.
But it's important to avoid cliches
I think that an important ingredient of a game is when you allow the player to immerse in a different world. In that alternative reality she plays fearless, possibly without prejudices. However, there're certain symbols, actually, allegories that work conversely. Those are the cliches: images and words that are repeated so many times that people already have a stalled idea of its meaning.
By using the political compass I found that if I used words like communism, fascism, capitalism and anarchy in the game, the player would be conditioned to think according to her prejudices about those concepts, and would not be able to relink them in a fresher way. Thus, I need to go through preconceptions and induce the person to think again what actually mean.
Much of this work, the detachment from the everyday world, is given by the fantasy. And what can connect us with it and our world, is the metaphor.
The metaphor about a big ship was the right one
"We are all in the same boat." I found it univocal, simple and effective. Trying to explain the system's complexity and not synthesize it into something palpable, could lead to something obscure and the immersion may not work at all. In other words the player could feel alienated.
The metaphor of the ship relates the different elements of the game: survival, resources, political compass, and creates a fantasy of driving a boat. Although not fully immersive, it keeps a limit.
After all the ship moves with a 'dialectical engine'
Two complex words with history: dialectics and ideology. I won't go into detail about these concepts, but I take a superficial interpretation that serves me as a tool for building the system.
- A passenger, produce a work, fueling one of the chimneys of the boat: a book, a painting, a discovery, an important event.
- Many other passengers, reflect and raise questions from that work, questions about issues that affect us, fueling the other chimney.
- Consciously or unconsciously we form our ideology from the reflection that causes the experience of each fragment of reality.
- Then, back to the first point, someone else with an already nourished ideology, generates another work that closes the circle.
Perhaps this is a warped way of representing a principle of dialectic, but is useful to see it this way.
This is the second part of three of a manifesto about 'My Little Humanity'.