Nearly all my life, video gaming has been an attractive pastime. My grandparents bought that ridiculous "ping" (probably wrong name) game for the old B/W television set in their living room and all the kids that visited had a crazy fun time tossing that ball back and forth to the left and the right side of the screen. As I entered my teens I loved Frogger and Asteroids and Galaga, but disliked Pacman with a passion. Later, when the games went from table top to large standup machines with large screens, I was into Tetris and Hopi (?name? large gorilla had to save princess from monsters and jungle challenges) TOKI (just came back to me) as well as racing games (cars and bikes, much for beauty of the visuals). But I had no interests in combat games, even tho in real life I've practised martial arts on and off. Then came computer games, consoles, and now online games and tho I have tried warring games, I simply end up being a farmer, not a warrior. I choose MYST series over war any day. Unfortunately, in the gaming world, warfare is now very much the dominant genre and other game styles are becoming extinct.

 

So here I stand, 35 years of on-screen gaming, and yet still can't get into warfare/colonialism gaming. I no longer truly believe in the philosophy of pacifism, and I have my aggressive outbursts in real life and even desires for revenge. I used to get into fights in school, and occasionally in bars, I tend to be a 'justicière' yet I cannot intellectually condone a single dollar spent in military effort. I despise anything military, yet a vast majority of gamers are into it. When I've played online war/colonial games, I encountered a great many very "moral" people, people with husbands, wives, children, pets, siblings/children at war, stay-at-home dads, and oddly enough, few non-parents.

 

At the age (teens) when a majority of converted atheists were leaving religion, I was leaving objective morality (I was always a strong atheist). I've tried to correlate the warring game instinct with various life choices that I encounter online, but I could not find any. The colonial/warring instinct simply seems prevalent, across borders, cultures, genders, and religions, or lack thereof.

 

I have come to think that warring/colonialism is considered a morally appropriate behaviour by a vast majority of humans, even tho most humans "state" they are for peace and against colonialism. If video gaming can be considered a good approximation, a virtual reality experiment, for human nature I think is quite effectively demonstrates that war/colonialism is a fundamental human trait.

 

Before online gaming, I thought gaming was a hobby more prevalent among single lonely geeky type people, but I've found that to be entirely not true. The online gaming community I found was typical of humanity at large. I think it's a fairly good sampling.

 

I am curious to know what 'moral' observations fellow gamers have of this subculture.

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I do agree all gaming comes down to a competitive activity for a modern leisurely society... But what of the perceived fundamental difference between war/colonialism gaming forms compared to all other gaming forms?

 

The juxtaposition of competition is an interesting one, tho I was an athlete until age 22 I never had an killer competitive instinct, my competitiveness always remained in the spectrum of enjoyment over effort... yet... I've put in innumerable hours into "beating" the game, with a few of my favourite games, just never in war games...

If video gaming can be considered a good approximation, a virtual reality experiment, for human nature I think is quite effectively demonstrates that war/colonialism is a fundamental human trait.

 

To echo your own words, I would call it interpretation, not demonstration :P

Well outside of hard science pretty much everything is interpretation ::P

That's why think Sam Harris wrong in stating science can provide all needed information to resolve grand questions. As your posted video stated, science may inform these questions, but can not answer them.

Pong. I played it, too. :)

 

As for gaming, perhaps one of the best examples I can give is within the sub-culture of people who play Civilization. I've played Civ since the first one, back in the late 80s. And in that time, I (and many other people) have noticed that there are two major types of players and one minor.

 

The first are the Builders. These types of players tend to concentrate on building up their civilization nearly to the exclusion of all else. They focus on researching peaceful technologies like the Wheel and Pottery, only researching military technologies when they are needed to advance towards more peaceful techs or when the technology has significant non-military benefits. (Like Bronze Working. It allows you to build spearmen, but also to clear forests for planting crops) One of the greatest danger facing a Builder is being attacked by a civilization that has focused more on military matters, although usually if enough time has passed the Builder has a sufficient internal structure to recover from the initial assault and produce military units to respond, often far more advanced than their assailants as their healthy economy has accelerated their research.

 

The second type are the Warmakers. These players focus on the military aspect of the game. Their civilizations often do not have extensive internal developments, building just enough infrastructure to support their military machine. A prime tactic of this type is to build up an army and attack their foes swiftly, before the other side can build up a large technological gap. Research is focused upon military lines, or on technologies that can be used to support the military.

 

The minor type are the Hybrids. These players are a little Builder and a little Warmaker. They build a solid infrastructure, and use that to produce their military. They are not as advanced or as productive as the Builders, nor as militarily mighty as the Warmakers.

 

Me, I'm a builder type. My 'wars of conquest' in the game are few and unusual and I am usually happy to build up my civilization and win the game via diplomatic, cultural, or technological means, rather than conquest and domination. My military units can go for centuries without upgrades, which occasionally causes the AI opponents to misjudge my strength, leading to a defensive war while I upgrade and drive it out again.

 

But there is a dark side to Building as well. If you are working on your civilization and you find that you lack a needed resource, you have to trade for it with someone who has it. And if they refuse to trade, the temptation to fight for it is strong. Scarce resources leads to conflict. In games or in the real world.

Your game description gave me a good giggle.  :) it's quite intense :)

[...]scarce resources leads to conflict. In games or in the real world.[...]

yep, that's something I experience intensely.

I really recommend playing Civilization 4. The last one is civ5 but civ4 is the best one.
Ironically enough, one of the things I disliked about Civ 5 was that they removed religion as a game element. :)
I am now aware.

Same here.

I had this morbid satisfaction of religion creating conflicts and alliances and so on. Sometimes I would have 5 enemies because of my civ's religion, and sometimes I would have 5 allies for the same reason.

And I also liked that choosing to have no state religion in the late game was the most advantageous thing to do.

Hmm, I might hate to try is game then
Many games seem to assume religiosity in that there are prayer/blessing functions to increase population happiness, oooo those bug me.

I don't know if video gaming has anything to do with moral reasoning. At least for me, they're completely disconnected. How I play games has no impact on my stances / behaviour IRL.

I mostly play(ed) FPSs. Nothing's more hilarious than shrinking pals in Deathmatch and stomping on them, or deceiving them with the HoloDuke and blowing them to bits with a PipeBomb. Ah, nostalgic memories.

I never gotten that much into online gaming as the post-match discussions with friends were a part of the experience.

In strategy games I usually choose a less violent approach, but sometimes it's fun to just wreak havoc.

 

Nowadays, I seldom play. My preferences still are shooters but I want a richer storyline as I grow older. I'm more into single player as LAN-parties are harder to organize.

 

So, while I love being a virtual badass killing machine, I loathe violence. I try to stay out of fights, but I wouldn't hesitate to return a punch.

 

Oh, and Pong. That was one of the programming examples my brother and I typed into that BASIC 1.1 computer.

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Posted by Quincy Maxwell on July 20, 2014 at 9:37pm 11 Comments

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