Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
 
Realizing achievements

In the open Sunday thread Void proposed his theory that "we are turning more and more to virtual worlds for our sense of advancement because it's so hard to find in the real world". I think he got the reason right, but the underlying problem wrong. In my opinion we are turning more and more to virtual worlds of our sense of achievement because we are so bloody bad at realizing our achievements in the real world.

Our real lives are full of amazing achievements: We learn how the world works during our education, then create value every day in our jobs. We make friends, we love, we build families, and participate in communities. And we collect ample rewards, living a life of unprecedented luxury, with houses, cars, entertainment electronics, and other "leet gear". Only most of us have trouble realizing all these achievements for what they are, because there isn't a "+100 reputation" sign popping up after we were nice to somebody, and no achievement title when did a task well in our jobs. In spite of the fact that there is somebody who values what we do in our jobs so much that he even pays us for doing it, we often believe our daily jobs to be meaningless. And with many of the achievements of our private lives being long term, we lose sight of their importance.

So we turn to virtual worlds, where rewards, achievements, and a sense of advancement are so much more visible, and so much faster. Woohoo, I gained another level! Woot, I gained a title! Yay, more purple pixels for me! And all in the space of a single evening!

Thus we tend to value these virtual achievements too much, and our real achievements too little. In the greater scheme of things, your boring day at work created a lot more value for humanity than your exciting and successful raid night. Your day out with the family created more meaningful "reputation gains" than your grinding Timbermaws. Not only are the achievements in virtual worlds not worth very much, they can even lead us to do negative things. For example WAR had achievements for doing battlegrounds naked. Woohoo, another achievement for you! And you just caused the rest of your team to lose because that achievement was more important to you than putting on your gear and doing your bit to actually win that battle. And don't get me started on all those games where you advance by griefing other players.

Some people have realized these deficiencies of the video game generation, who are unable to realize their real achievements unless they receive points and titles for them. So there are proposals on how to reward students with experience points, or how bosses should hand out achievement titles and similar video game-like rewards. But I don't even think that will work. Because if you look at it closely, those rewards and titles already exist: Schools hand out grades, and companies reward us with salaries and bonuses. You'll say money isn't everything, but the money you receive for doing your job *is* a good indicator for the value your daily work created. If you did the same job for free, the created value would still be there, which is why voluntary work isn't any less valuable.

So I would encourage you to look at your real life, job and family, and try to realize the real achievements you made, how you advanced in your life from cradle to where you are now. Modern value creation is often extremely complex, so your job might look like just a tiny cog in a huge machine. But that machine is creating something of value, and you played your part in that value creation. And the things created in real life often *are* real. Most of the achievements in virtual worlds would cease to exist the moment the servers shut down. But the car or whatever your company makes will be around for quite a while, and if you succeed in the real world achievement of raising children, they will be around even after you die. That isn't to say that having fun in virtual world is a bad thing, but we all need to be careful to get our priorities right, and not end up neglecting the real world for some hollow achievement of a virtual one.
Comments:
Related to your topic, Tobold, is the idea that real-life achievements take too long.

You ask anyone who is 20-something with a degree how long they think it will take them to get a promotion from an entry-level job, and they think it'll take a year. Probably less. They walk into a job and expect that they're going to steadily advance up the ranks. They already think they're smarter, faster, and better than the people who have been doing the same job for years. Their parents have been telling them how gifted and special they are since the day they were born.

Imagine how frustrating real life is when it doesn't make them a manager in six months.
 
"
Imagine how frustrating real life is when it doesn't make them a manager in six months."

This is part of the fun of MMOs, for sure. Quick rewards, easy to see progress.

But I also think that people have always played games to practice RL skills. You see it in kids all the time. So maybe we're practicing in MMOs how to prioritise time, figure out which achievements are important to us, work with others on joint goals, et al.

Sure you have to keep some kind of work/games/life balance but you can (if you try) learn some useful skills from practicing them in MMOs.
 
I really liked how you put virtual world achievements in perspective. You are right that real world achievements mean more than virtual ones.

I still feel that we get tired of how slow and invisible our achievements are in the real world. I'm not suggesting that we start awarding rep or experience points in real life, but everyone has had a day where they feel that everything they are doing is pointless and they would rather feel a sense of accomplishment. I think virtual worlds are a great place to get a sense of accomplishment in small doses. We all need to feel like we're making progress in the world, but it's not always easy to do. If a virtual world helps attain that sense of accomplishment that gets you through the day, then why not enjoy the fantasy?
 
Why WoW achievements are better than RL:

You get them faster.

They are easier to get.

There is no penalty if you fail the achievement, you can keep trying until you get it.

You can show off your WoW achievements to more people.

Chances are more people will be impressed with your Kingslayer title than any achievement you are likely to attain in real life.

You can get them without having to maintain socially acceptable standards of personal hygiene.

There is a cool sound and graphic when you get them.
 
What makes you think that this world is real? Value is always ONLY in our heads. And when we die the value dies with us. Thinking, that the product you helped making or your kids will be after you died is just another value.
 
Is anybody here who plays WoW to collect achievements? Really, this whole discussion seems just very strange to me.

I play, because I like good stories, because I want to be part of something bigger than me, because the minutte-to-minute gameplay is fun, because I want to explore my characters' talent trees ..

And I am pretty sure most of you are.
Achievements are one small part of MMOs.

If you cut down a tree with your son for christmas, the moment the tree falls feels like an achievement; yes: But it is not the reason you do it. You wouldn't start to hack away at the rest of the forest, because of the achievement-feeling. This discussion is surreal.
 
The problem with IRL achievements is that they are often not self-selected, therefore felt forced grind and not success.

Also the feedback IRL if often arbitrary and disconnected from performance (you can get good grade or promotion for butkissing).

In a video game the feedback is objective, the task is self-selected, the difficulty level is properly set. These are the attributes that should be used in real world.

The small business owner is close to these and he is rarely unhappy (or wastes time with beer, TV and video games)
 
It tells us a lot about psychology:
- make achievements measurable
- make them quick
- chop huge tasks up into smaller bits ("quick wins" in managerspeak)
- hand out the rewards directly after the goal has been achieved.

I think reward systems in real life will develop notably in the coming decade and adapt to these psychological basics.
 
Thanks for the sermon, Tobold. If it weren't for the fact that the rep grinds out here in this world are so tedious that I'm sure they've been designed by Blizzard, I'd agree wholeheartedly.

And Gevlon, I don't know what small business owners you hang out with. Why should we be deprived of beer and fun games just because we're happy?
 
Value is something we individually determine. An achievement is a measurement of value. So an achievement is a wholly personal experience. You might share an achievement with someone else, but the significance, the value, is created entirely within your head out of nothing. The achievements you’re citing are socially based. A “greater good” achievement might help others, but the significance it has comes solely from you, nobody can give you achievement points. Living with the responsibility of working for the greater good is a principle that society implants in your head so that it can survive. It needs many people to sustain it, and it needs these people to further its life by teaching this principle to others.

So realizing that true value can only exist within an individual as a feeling, here’s an example for thought. A man is born knowing only video games. He stays in a plain room and all he knows and does is play video games (assuming some automatic sustenance). Would his achievements feel less real to him than our real life ones do? He has nothing else to compare, no society to shun him for not following the instilled norm. Now take a man who spends his life absolutely devoted to helping his community. Sure he gets a lot done, but the sense of achievement comes from him and only him, so what if he doesn’t feel like he’s achieved anything of value because everything he’s ever done was provided and controlled by a faceless, untouchable society.

My point being that your sense of achievement, Tobold, comes from how you think people would perceive you. It’s a very social, common, and dare I say conformist, perspective. I on the other hand am probably what you’d consider to be an insensitive loser. I don’t vote because one vote won’t make a difference, I never care when a natural disaster destroys lives because then I’d consider myself a hypocrite, and I feel no responsibility towards society because it isn’t an actual thing. At this point most people would say “Well if everyone thought like that…” and I agree with them. The world would crumble if everyone thought like me, but they don’t, so I don’t pretend like they will. I am not society, and neither are you.

I live for myself, and “for myself” includes the people I care about because they make me happy, or at least satisfied. I do find my loved ones more important than video game achievements but only because I decided that myself, not because it’s an obligation. I'm selfish, but only in the context of society, which as a thing is as nonexistent as any video game. We all live to be happy and content but I try to acknowledge that with as little bullshit as possible. Like Pazi said above, the world is as real as you perceive it.
 
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It is a pleasure to read your remarks, Hobonicus.
 
Btw, I know I’ve already said similar things on your blog before, and I don't mean to divert or exhaust the topic, it’s just the seemingly blinded preaching of social norms that always gets to me. People can and should believe what they want, but this case in particular directly concerns the limitations on how people will believe. The framework for how people base their lives is important to me, and I hate seeing such potential lost to mere convenience.

Anyway. How ‘bout them Warcrafts, eh?
 
What a lame post, Tobold :)

Are your turning into a preacher?
 
You guys are starting to frighten me!

"All achievements just exist in your head". "Achievements in real life are just done for social norms". "Value is something we individually determine".

What kind of a self-centered generation is that? All these statements are not only utterly false, but reflect an egoistic attitude beyond measure.

Sorry, a house in the real world has a value, not just a monetary one, but one of what an economist would call "utility". Building the house is an achievement that is real. That achievement has absolutely nothing to do with preachy social norms, and does not only exist in our heads. If in the same time you could build a virtual house in a virtual world, that virtual house does *not* have the same value, because nobody can live in it and be sheltered from the real rain.

Do you really want to tell the people who are lets say working on a cure for AIDS or malaria, or who are working on a clean energy future, that they should be playing video games instead and thus achieve greater rewards?

The only value of virtual worlds is in spending some hours of relaxation, which would otherwise have been spent with even less fruitful forms of entertainment, like watching TV. You can not replace the real achievements of the real world leading to real progress for humanity with some virtual achievements of virtual worlds that lead absolutely nowhere.
 
"You can not replace the real achievements of the real world leading to real progress for humanity with some virtual achievements of virtual worlds that lead absolutely nowhere."

In the same way that blogging about it's pointless. Besides, Tobold, i think you're the one confused. You use terms like "real life" and "achievements". Those words make sense only in a gamer's head. There is no real of fake like. No one can play a game while dead. And the "real life" achievements wouldn't be called achievements before the video games introduced the concept.

"You can not replace the real achievements of the real world leading to real progress for humanity with some virtual achievements of virtual worlds that lead absolutely nowhere."

I'm sorry, who said that having a house in Sims is the same thing as having a real house?
 
A few posts above, Tobold answered "What kind of a self-centered generation is that? " to one of the commenters. I think "generation" is the key here.

I wouldn't be surprised if one's views on achievements depend (mostly) on their age and the culture in which they were educated.
 
...a house in the real world has a value

Oh? To whom? Some environmentalists would say it has zero value, negative even, since it destroys habitat. Everyone has different yardsticks, so "value" is subjective.

Your other example of value and progress "...tell the people who are lets say working on a cure for AIDS or malaria," is likewise subjective. Do you know what kind of financial threat a cure represents to the industry selling drugs and treatments to sick people? A cure -- ie. someone's achievement -- would be a distaster to others financially. There is no real objective measure of progress nor value. It has to be defined subjectively. Any attempt at objective measurement is merely collective subjectivity.

Virtual worlds have a clearly defined ladder so activities are clear-cut and "objectively" measureable. The real world on the other hand is full of contradictions, guilt, and vagaries.
 
It's worth noting that you have an life which is more than averagely rewarding, at least judging from what you post, Tobold.

You have a job which you enjoy and find fulfilling, which pays you somewhere between well and extremely well, as well as a spouse and I believe kids, both of whom you appear to be happy with. You also have friends with whom you share interests (as judged from your posts about pen-and-paper roleplaying, for example).

I'm lucky enough to be in a similar situation. However, many people aren't.

It's harder to take pleasure in the company of your spouse if you're single or recently divorced, or the value of your job if you're doing something either mind-numbing (data entry, telesales) or are long-term unemployed.

Under those circumstances, virtual world achievements can seem and indeed be (depending on how they're used) much more important.
 
Also - virtual world achievements also have utility, in the sense that they can be used to gain advantage in negotiation for things you want.

My Kingslayer achievement means that I can get into any PUG group I want. That's useful for me when I fancy doing something fun of an evening and don't want to have to engage in complicated Gearscore/Achievement negotiations.

Sufficiently difficult virtual-world achievements are even useful for getting new jobs. If you're going for a job in an appropriate field, it's far from stupid to put "World of Warcraft guild and raid leader, completed up to Lich King Hard Mode" on your CV. (Google Joi Ito "WoW is the new golf")
 
The entire field of Sociology is based on moving past perceptions like yours. We’re working on different levels when we use the word “value”. I see it from the perspective of a Sociologist, one who studies society. You see it as something intrinsic in the world, which like I said is very commonly understood, but only because of its convenience. A house in the real world only has value because that’s what you give it. Someone else’s house has less value to you because you give it less. The value an economist places on it is a completely different issue here. Like Nils’ inverted twin said, a virtual object and physical object are not the same, but neither one is inherently better than the other, it depends on the person in question’s perception. Physical objects just exists, they do not contain latent significance without us giving it to them. Where do you think we get our values? From our heads. From the nonexistent driving force that teaches us everything called the collective unconscious, or society.

I knew you would think what I said was self-centered, most people usually do. You don’t work in order to help society; you do it to help yourself. You know society could get along just fine without you but you trick yourself into thinking “the greater good” has some significance, which it doesn’t, inherently. You give it that significance yourself. Even when you help others you do so because it makes you feel content, at least in the long run. You’re already egotistical, we all are. I mentioned before that my selfish attitude is only in the context of society as a whole, which is a nonexistent thing created in your head. On the other hand, I’m definitely not “selfish” with those I care about, those who I’ve given more significance than the rest of the world combined.

"Do you really want to tell the people who are lets say working on a cure for AIDS or malaria, or who are working on a clean energy future, that they should be playing video games instead and thus achieve greater rewards?"

I’m actually not sure where you got that idea, it gives me the impression that you’ve misunderstood me, which is understandable. Like I’ve mentioned before, trying to explain this to someone who has already lived a different way for so long is often like trying to explain a color they’ve never seen. I’m absolutely not saying they should be playing video games, I’m specifically not telling anyone to change their behavior (which, btw, you are doing when you tell us about our “priorities”). People working on AIDS could play video games, if they wanted, if the games made them feel better than they do about themselves curing AIDS, although I doubt that would be the case.

"…leading to real progress for humanity…"

This is the big thing. This is really what sets us apart. You think society is the ultimate endgame, I think you’re unnecessarily fooling yourself. Try pointing to society, try pointing to significance. In the end, once all the superficial gilding is stripped away, you’ll be pointing at your head.

What I’m getting at is that there are no values, no significance, no meaning in the real physical world to begin with. We give everything meaning, and that meaning, while very important, is not real. It has no measurable or physical properties, it is something virtually created within our heads and can only exist in the form of understanding.
 
Here's a fun read which links computer game achievements to Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs, and I think it's quite pertinent to today's discussion ...

http://www.werkkrew.com/2008/07/09/maslows-needs-and-gaming/
 
When reading this I start to think about two things:

First:
Cognito ergo sum.

Second:
I'm usually in favor of higher taxes for the financially better off. Unfortunately, that includes myself nowdays. Thus, I still think that it is important that the rich and the poor don't drift away too much and e.g. I think consumption should be taxed massively for luxuray goods.

But when it comes to my own taxes I fight tooth and nail to pay as little as possible.

This behaviour, that many people share, is only explainable with Hobonicus' Ansatz. That's why I agree with him. Many people partly behave similarly, but they never spent thoughts into what they are actually doing/thinking.

I praise the attitude that Hobonicus described (very well) as enlightended, knowing that it will damn society if too many people start to share it and act accordingly.

Thinking along evolution theory, this is also the reason for why most people disagree with what Hobonicus described.
 
We give everything meaning, and that meaning, while very important, is not real. It has no measurable or physical properties, it is something virtually created within our heads and can only exist in the form of understanding.

Although I agree with almost anything you wrote, Hobonicus, you need to be careful here. Your head and its parts are part of reality. There is nothing virtual there.

Meaning is a pattern that can be created in my head. It seems like it can also be created in the heads of other people, but going along Descartes (cogito ergo sum) this has to be doubted.

One more example for Tobold: Imagine some guy who is wealthy and owns 200 houses. He spends his time playing a strategy game. Let's be evil here and talk about a 'real world' board game. Imagine he builds a very time consuming house in this strategy game that fulfills some in-game purpose.

Now imagine one of the 200 houses in real life burns down. Does he care ? No.
Imagine his board-game house burns down. Does he care?
Yes.

Meaning is relative.
 
Meaning is relative.

Only at the top of Maslow's pyramid, which Mzungu mentioned. If you are already spoilt and have everything, and your only remaining need is for self-esteem and self-realization, it is possible to do that in a virtual world.

But no virtual world can fulfil your physical needs, or your needs for safety. The reason the real house has a higher intrinsic value than the virtual one is because it can provide physical shelter from the elements, and to some extent safety from people wishing you harm.

Not everybody is so spoilt that he can afford to completely forget about the lower rungs of that pyramid. There is still over a billion people living at less than $1 per day. And even in our rich world our employment and finances have been shown in the last years to be far from safe. Not to mention foreseeable future problems like global warming or fossil resources running out.

If our ancestors had spent most of their time playing knuckle dice games instead of inventing fire, we would still be living in those same caves. It is only because previous generations had a better vision of what is really important in life that the current generation can argue that a virtual achievement is as good as a real one.
 
I think you are wrong about this. Though it is easy to be confused as to why.

Humans are social animals. Most animal societies have a hierarchy, and most social animals have an embedded (genetic) drive to climb as close to the top of the hierarchy as possible.

With the human animal, due to sheer numbers, the average individual will get nowhere near the top. These games give us the opportunity to be 'better' than our peers, and hopefully climb to the top of the hierarchy - even if it's virtual. Getting to the 'top' of the virtual world, even if it's only in our mind' satisfies the instinct in us.

The achievements are an indicator that we are climbing to the top, and so we value them. In real life, we eventually (the average human) plateau as we see no more progress. Is getting a paycheck an achievement? Sure, but if it is not getting bigger, we are not progressing in our climb to the top.
 
Self-preservation is something you decide. You don't need to eat (many people in history decided to not eat to make a difference, some died due to it). You don't even need to drink and you certainly do not need to take shelter from the elements.

There are very good reasons to do all that, but it is your decision.




It is only because previous generations had a better vision of what is really important in life that the current generation can argue that a virtual achievement is as good as a real one.


They had some convivtions, like everybody does. Their convictions benefit us today. But don't mistake our own selfish befefit as the 'real meaning' of their actions.

Things happen. That's really all you can say here. Just because humanity finds out how to access fusion power doesn't mean that that was pre-determined, fate or meaningful. There are reasons why it happenes That's all.
 
Actually if you did the same job for free it could possibly be worth many times as much to you.

If doing something for free IRL can be worth more than if you were rewarded for it, would this same principle apply in WoW? No, I don't think so.

Doesn't that say something about the true value of RL "achievements"?
 
Tobold, I am not surprised to find so many nihilists posting on your MMO blog. Disregarding or devaluing real-world-meaning can lead people to become more engrossed in virtual-world meaning.
 
@changed:
You are, of course, correct.
People who strongly distinguish between 'real life' and 'virtual life' and find 'virtual life' meaningless wouldn't play MMOs.

They'd be stupid :)
 
People who strongly distinguish between 'real life' and 'virtual life' and find 'virtual life' meaningless wouldn't play MMOs. They'd be stupid :)

No, they'd just be casual. You don't have to believe in "leading a meaningful virtual life" to have fun playing a MMORPG. And if you don't expect a MMORPG to bring meaning into your life, but just want to play a fun game, you are less likely to be disappointed.
 
I am not talking about an MMO bringing meaning into my meaningless life. You are constructing straw men!

All I say is that I don't engage in activities unless I find at least some meaning in them. Building a character in a MMO means something to me.

Playing (and winning) a badminton/chess/ludo match means something to me.

If what I did didn't mean something to me, I were a zombie.

Honestly: I think you should just accept that MMOs mean something to you. You spent hundreds (probably thousands) of hours of your life playing them. Hell, you blog about them every (f***ing) single day!

Saying that all that doesn't mean something to you is delusional.
 
Interestingly as much as I appreciate the pinch of salt around virtual achievements in video games and the importance of family / social life, I am surprised you would attach so much importance to economic rewards.

Yes, in economics terms the value you add to society is measured by your salary, but this is far from having the same meaning for non-economists.
Tell someone who just lost his/her job because his company shut downs as US consumers are too deep in debt, or someone who will not get promoted because his boss hates his guts that he/she just gets what he/she is worth to society is not exactly relevant or accurate.
In the same time huge bureaucratic organizations (public or private) have a lot of incompetence at the top. What are people very good at getting promoted but horrible at adding economic value (and in many case destroy value) bringing to society?
What is the meaning of a life spent in a hazardous job paid very little with a life expectancy of less than 40 years?
This is another debate, but it points to a flaw in your virtual / real world comparison.
In my view all achievements are social in nature. They make you feel better about yourself not only because you feel a better person (which in case of virtual world would mean your pixels are cool) but also because of the way other people look at you. People want to have a high gearscore because they think, rightly or not, that others will look up to them or envy them. People parade with rare mounts just because they are rare and they like to feel special. Others buy expensive cars because they want to create envy. Celebrities have trophy wives / husbands and extravagant weddings even though they mostly don't believe in long term commitments and just want to have an expensive party.
All this is about how others look at you. I would think players are equally proud of a special item in a MMO when someone asks them where they got it than when they actually obtain it. And of course it doesn't last as long as a successful career or is as rewarding as raising your kids to be "good people". You still have to admit the fact it's the path of least resistance towards some kind of recognition in this world some would never otherwise get in a low paid job or in a dysfunctional family environment.
 
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@Nils: Exception with all this is that I could quit blogging today, despite the meaning it holds for me, but I could not stop supporting my wife and son.

@Hobonicus: Our perception of reality may be virtual and sensory dependent. We do ultimately decide what value things hold for us. But without shelter, food etc., then what your virtual world of the game is meaningless.

I know four guys who share a studio apartment. The place only has 4 futon mattresses on the floor, and four computers. The share rent, utilities, and food (top ramen mostly). They play World of Warcraft most of the time (they each have a part-time job equaling about 15 hours a week.

Relatively, for them, they have prioritized WoW, for most of us, they have prioritized a meaningless thing. Everything in that story matches your viewpoint, except... that in real life, they have no meaning.
 

Exception with all this is that I could quit blogging today, despite the meaning it holds for me, but I could not stop supporting my wife and son.


@Pangoria Fallstar:
Of course you could! That doesn't mean that you should, but you could. Many people do it every day.

There are so exceptions. You are free. In fact, it is that freedom that gives meaning to your actions in the first place.
 
It's always invigorating with an egotism vs. altruism debate!

But a couple of you above appear to be leaning towards the really old and very, very, tired notion that it was better in the good old days when a hard day's work was put in for the good of it and that the kids nowadays...

You know, the kids nowadays, they can get a Frostsaber mount in like a day. Pft! Back in my day, I had to trundle through the snow back and forth for months for that!
 
@Tobold, I’m not making up everything I’ve said, btw, it’s all Sociology stuff. When responding, Tobold, I can see that you still read everything in your own terms. Like I said, it can like explaining a new color, because you can’t understand it without trying to compare with the colors you know. You aren’t able to look in from outside, your world is too reliant on everything you’ve learned in your life to be able to think in any other terms. I don’t mean that as an insult, your responses are same as the very common immediate responses that Sociologists get from people who don’t study society. I’m in no way trying to promote a behavior, just an understanding.

About your house example…
If there is no need to be sheltered, then how can an object be valued as such? If there is only a house without any people, then there is no need for shelter, and thus it’s just a physical object. Without a person to understand that he needs shelter, the house has no meaning. Someone sees this house sitting all by its lonesome and will understand it as the concept of “house” only because they’ve given meaning to an otherwise meaningless object.

@Nils, we’re probably working with very slightly different ideas of what “real” means. For me, anything that exists without human thought is real, everything else is imaginary. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just an explanation. It is somewhat of a gray area because technically your brain and its processes are physical, but a concept it creates isn’t.

Non-social elements are:
1. The real world, the world that exists physically.
2. Lack of meaning
3. Big surprises, those times (experienced almost exclusively at a very young age) when you become 100% focused on a seemingly new thing while your biological computer (a part of society) builds it a concept, often lasting only a few seconds. This is the only time you get a glimpse at the real world before society takes over and gives it meaning.
4. Uniqueness, because an object can’t be similar to another without you making it so, as similarity is a concept we create.
5. Micro, the world existing moment to moment, confined to this moment or object only.

Social elements that relate and oppose the real world:
1. The imaginary world, every concept, every meaning you’ve ever given anything is imaginary because it doesn’t exist outside your head. People may act upon it, but the concept is intangible.
2. Meaning
3. Routines, recurring and nearly continuous patterns of behavior of varying sizes, they replace big surprises.
4. Individuals, the individuality we give to people and objects.
5. Macro, the world of face to face experience and interaction.

There's a whole tapestry made of meaningless threads metaphor for this, but I'm probably just mostly talking to myself at this point so I'm gonna try not to belabor things. This is an MMO blog after all :P
 
I can see that you still read everything in your own terms.

It's not that I can't understand your terms, it's that I don't AGREE that the tree that falls down in the forest when nobody is around doesn't make a sound. I'm a scientist, for me there is an absolute reality outside the confines of my head.

And I also believe that your point of view, that everything only exists in your head, is actually dangerous. Because in *your* view you could end wars, hunger, and poverty by putting a bullet through your head. In *my* view I would actually have to do something about these things. I can see how your view is more comfortable for you.
 
In *my* view I would actually have to do something about these things. I can see how your view is more comfortable for you.

I guess that is where the mentioned hypocrisy comes in. What do you actually do about it, Tobold ?
 
He blogs about it.
 
Well the tree falling in the forest thing isn’t quite what I’d use as an example, because sound isn’t a concept we invented, it actually does exist inherently in the world. And this viewpoint I have doesn’t govern my public behavior as much as you may think. I don’t go around proclaiming everything meaningless, I’m human too and need boundaries, I need society. If you met me I’d be just as normal as you’d expect from another human. The difference is that I understand that the concepts we have, the framework for our entire lives, are often taken for granted. It’s not a lifestyle, it just is. It is understanding, without any scale of right or wrong.

I don’t believe suicide would end the world around me. I understand very well that everyone else exists too. The imaginary world we create and understand is just as significant to us as the real one.

I hate to keep saying this, but your responses, including the most recent one are the almost stereotypically recognizable slight misinterpretations of this. I know repeating that doesn’t necessarily support my argument without adding more evidence and detail, which would require a lot more time and energy spent than I want to give.

It’s an explanation of our understanding in the truest sense, an explanation of how we abstractify our lives, not a philosophy. But at this point I think it's safe to agree to disagree.
 
I hate to keep saying this, but your responses, including the most recent one are the almost stereotypically recognizable slight misinterpretations of this. I know repeating that doesn’t necessarily support my argument without adding more evidence and detail, which would require a lot more time and energy spent than I want to give.

You are right. Repeating this is not good. It hurts your argument.


About Tobold and that tree: I believe it exists outside of my head. I am very certain about this believe. But I do know that it is just a believe. It is not certain.

And- to get back to topic: I wouldn't say that I care about that tree unless my actions reflect that attitude.

It seems to me that you are what the Chinese would call 'out of balance'. What you say and what you do differ.

You say MMOs are meaningless to you, but you probably spent over a thousand days of your life playing them by now.

At the same time you seem to say that wars, hunger, and poverty mean something to you, but why aren't you somewhere helping to solve these problems then? Instead you maintain a successful MMO blog (?)
 
Meaning is relative.

Are you absolutely certain about that? :-)

The truth is: We live in an absolute reality in which only a few things are relative.
 
It seems to me that you are what the Chinese would call 'out of balance'. What you say and what you do differ.

I strongly disagree. I am in perfect balance here, because I see MMORPGs as simple entertainment, and don't demand meaning from them, just fun. As long as I find that fun, I play.

You however are constantly complaining about the existing MMORPGs being not immersive enough, not realistic enough, because you are looking for meaning in a virtual world, when all that Blizzard will ever supply is a fun game.

So I get exactly what I am looking for, while you are constantly chasing something that doesn't exist. I think it is perfectly clear who is out of balance here.
 
Don't worry Nils, I understand you :P
 
I said: What you say and what you do differ. Therefore you're 'out of balance'.

And you replied:
You are searching for something that you haven't found yet. Therefore you are out of balance.

What am I supposed to say now?
Something like:
"You stole my cookies first. Therefore you are out of balance" ?
:)

Really. Was that necessary ?
 
Nils, YOU turned a philosophical argument about the meaning of real vs. virtual worlds into a personal "Tobold, you are out of balance". And then you complain if I reply to that?

I simply don't agree with your statement that the fact that I spent many hours in MMORPGs is out of balance with my opinion that they are just games. The average American spends more hours watching TV than I spend playing WoW. Does that mean that TV has a deeper meaning?

MMORPGs are games, as it actually says in the acronym. They are fun. It is fun to discuss what design changes could make them more fun. But they are not a replacement for the real world, they only serve as mindless entertainment between doing more important things.

And as somebody asked, I actually *do* work all day to solve the world's energy problems. Of course my contribution to such a huge problem is necessarily tiny, but at least I don't need to derive my self-esteem from my gearscore and my "achievements" in virtual worlds.

All that talk about virtual worlds having as much meaning as the real world is in the end just a lame excuse for not doing something meaningful in the real world. And yeah, I get a lot of flak for that opinion, because it criticizes the lifestyle of the people who "opted out" of the real world. But I'd like to remind these people that the only reason they have this option to rather lead virtual lifes than real lifes is because *other* people are providing the real world goods and services they need to survive. And then *they* complain of people with real lifes "leeching" from them in heroics and raids. Isn't that ironic?
 
Mmh. I excuse for the out of balance thing. It can probably be understood as an insult. I didn't intend that.

While you spend you time solving the worlds energy problems, I right now, in my dominating project spend my time thinking about how to improve future weapon systems. And I am not talking about pistols.

Perhaps that makes it easier to understand, why I disagree with the notion, that those things in real life that your can earn ( a hell of a lot of) money with, are automatically more useful than playing MMO.
 
“All that talk about virtual worlds having as much meaning as the real world is in the end just a lame excuse for not doing something meaningful in the real world. And yeah, I get a lot of flak for that opinion, because it criticizes the lifestyle of the people who "opted out" of the real world. But I'd like to remind these people that the only reason they have this option to rather lead virtual lifes than real lifes is because *other* people are providing the real world goods and services they need to survive. And then *they* complain of people with real lifes "leeching" from them in heroics and raids. Isn't that ironic?”

It’s not that they necessarily want to replace their life with a virtual world; it’s that you feel perfectly justified in demeaning their source of enjoyment, a source that can go beyond just “dumb fun” for them because they don’t see their lives in the same conformist “for the good of the community” way you’ve been told to. We sleep for a third of our lives and work for another third, chances are the last third is filled with various social obligations that we may or may not want to be a part of. How much is left for just us? Why can’t we try to make that part feel meaningful to us without others condemning our “priorities”? Since your life is yours alone, what do you have to live for besides yourself?

You know it can go past dumb fun for people, it can be meaningful. And yet you still seek to ridicule their sense of enjoyment like it’s some taboo thing that, despite spending hours a day devoted to it, you need to assure those outside this area that you still “have a life”. Fun is fun, meaning is meaning, they just exist and you absolutely can’t deny that in anyone else because it’s their choice to find fun and meaning in something, not yours.

You love labels, you love measurements, and you love verdicts.In everyday situations, logic comes easier to you than feelings. Because of this, you have more potential for discrimination than I ever could.
 
I simply don't agree with your statement that the fact that I spent many hours in MMORPGs is out of balance with my opinion that they are just games. The average American spends more hours watching TV than I spend playing WoW.

Are you in favor of the guys who mindlessly spend their time in front of the TV? Nor am I. You see, it is that direction in MMOs that I and others criticize. You have a crowd of people that are into extreme sports, mountain climbing, mountain bikes, etc. But somehow MMOs cater only to the crowd that likes to vegetate in front of the TV.
-----------

Does that mean that TV has a deeper meaning?

TV doesn’t have a meaning. TV does have meaning for somebody. For somebody who spends his time watching series on TV I bet these series mean a lot more to him than for me or you.
For a holy man the bible is meaningful, for an atheist it is a mindless collection of papers. As a scientist you cannot say that there is an absolute definition for meaning without telling us how to find that absolute.
What you say is, that there is a luminiferous aether.
Well, I don’t believe that before you have shown me how to find it. So far you haven’t even tried, as far as I can tell.
-----------

MMORPGs are games, as it actually says in the acronym. They are fun. It is fun to discuss what design changes could make them more fun. But they are not a replacement for the real world, they only serve as mindless entertainment between doing more important things.

Smart phones aren’t smart and MMORPGs aren’t “just games”. Just like soccer isn’t “just a game”.

Perhaps mindless entertainment is fun for you, perhaps even for other people. But I will never spend and have never spent so much my time on the something mindless. MMOs do not have to be mindless. It depends on the game and how you play it. And I still doubt that something, that somebody spends hundreds of days of his life on, doesn’t mean something for him.
Actions speak louder than words here.
-----------


But I'd like to remind these people that the only reason they have this option to rather lead virtual lifes than real lifes is because *other* people are providing the real world goods and services they need to survive.

The *other* people provide goods and services to me, because that is to their own benefit. Have you thanked the sun already for providing enough light so that you can live another day? I don’t need to thank anybody unless I am on welfare.
 
There's another aspect to virtual achievements that I don't think has been mentioned: rewards and achievements in virtual worlds are relatively predictable; you generally know (or can easily discover) exactly what you need to do in order to get the virtual "thing" you want.

In other words, effort versus reward in a virtual world may not always be balanced, but you almost always know what they are. This is very unlike the real world.

In the real world, for example, you might get a college degree, then get an MBA in Finance. You might then work for a huge multinational megabank, rise to the level of Assistant Vice President, and then be out of a job three months later when the financial markets melt down, all through no fault (or even merit) of your own.

The value some people get out of virtual worlds is the predictability....
 
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