Christopher Lucero | The Unending Social Game

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
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Imagine, as a design for a video game, a cave inhabited by a randy collection of gnomes, trolls and ogres.

The cave is replete with gnomes and trolls and ogres of a type that are obnoxious, weird, nasty and occasionally vile. The creatures – trolls, ogres and gnomes – are expressive but are not able to physically elicit harm or danger onto players. Their weapons are limited to words alone. It is an echo chamber of the weird and mostly unipolar expressions of those creatures. Sometimes a wise old troll among them will express something erudite and fascinatingly clear, but eventually the clear message gravitates back to the same unipolar expression that the creatures are bound to.

A popular thing to do with Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) is to provide infinite life, to make the experience hypodermically fortified (to “mod,” in gamer parlance). Infinite life provides a never-ending mayhem of satisfaction for the player.

Let’s imagine this video game is hyped up in this way: It has no end, and you survive in it as long as you like.

A few things are relevant when designing a game. A payoff must be available for the player. The game must provide some sort of satisfaction that makes the game “time well spent” for the player. There must also be some rules that bring about the payoffs, and that distinguish good players from the hacks. There must be ways to penalize the sinister and the nasty players who injure or play dirty. Finally, the game should have some binding that defines the general recognition of success or achievement among players.

Would you play this video game? What would attract anyone to engage in the play value offered by it?

Inside the game, players need to recognize the attributes in the rules of play and the actual freedom allowed within the game to play and seek gameplay satisfaction. Those mental states are key to success and satisfaction.

As with most games that allow or encourage teams, teamwork is important in achieving satisfaction.

When a player achieves satisfaction and finds a measure of happiness from the game, it should be enough to feel good about playing and that some kind of “win” has been achieved.

Uncurated games where gangs/groups of gamers can rove freely and take advantage of unsuspecting “noobs” can ruin the gaming experience for individuals who are on smaller or weaker teams, or who stand alone. Even worse, some “noobs” do not truly understand their personal sources of satisfaction within the game. They failed to know the game attributes in full, or why it is played, or how they get satisfaction from it. For them it is a ruined game, because they got hurt by the ravaging they experienced.

This is the situation we face with social media. The game is unending. It can be played by any group or individual. Individuals of common mind or politics (Russians, liberals, gun-toting fanatics, etc.), can stake out territories where the play experience of unaligned individuals or weaker teams is very unsatisfactory, leading to the flight of the dissatisfied, resulting in even greater polarization of the local medium. That, in turn, leads to even greater alienation for those remaining weaker teams and individuals. Dissatisfaction for them.

Likewise, there exist media locales where the dominant players are of a unipolarity that can alienate those who don’t see the game for what it is: a playground for their satisfaction-seeking. Once satisfaction cannot be met, those players on unfriendly turf cannot shout their way to satisfaction by insisting on it. They can only hope to recognize the game for where their satisfaction is sourced — in the play itself, the never-ending play.

Republicans are weak players in California, generally. They are represented in a mere seven out of 53 U.S. congressional districts in California. They hold zero Senate seats in California and zero executive positions. In state elected governance, they hold 18 of 80 state Assembly seats, and 11 out of 40 in the state Senate. Republicans are a minority party (24%) when compared with both Democrats (43%) and independents (25%). 

It is hoped that this explains the profile that inhabits the psychic makeup of some California Republicans, and non-residents of California who express Republican opinions, or anyone who finds themselves in that situation. 

Liberals fall into it, too, often enough that the term “snowflake” was coined to describe their stimulus/response syndrome. The hurt drives them to (unnecessary, un-American, untruthful) angry and ugly behavior.

To anyone who feels alienated, in any game or locale: When a game is no fun, why would you keep playing it? 

You cannot angrily shout your way to happy. You can change or you can quit playing…or you can continue your madness, insisting that others meet your needs for satisfaction.

We have the right to free speech. We also agree on the pursuit of happiness. We understand that nobody else is responsible for our happiness. In the context of social media, if we intend to make our happiness contingent on other people’s expressions, or their appreciation of our expressions, we are making a grave error against our own best interest, and we put ourselves in conflict with those two primary American principles.

The hurt has now led the president to propose shutting down, by executive order, the free speech aspects of this game, in direct threat to the First Amendment right of expression. He apparently wants to mandate that we make others happy.

Mr. President, please do not attempt to subvert these American principles. Mr. President, I also remind you: We cannot angrily shout, rant, or pout our way to happy. 

That is a demand that is infantile.

We have been given the pursuit of happiness, but it is never guaranteed that we will find it.

Christopher Lucero


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