How video games can teach you the basic principles of philosophy
When I was in my first year of varsity we had to do two majors. I chose Politics and Philosophy. When second year rolls around you need to drop one of those. I’m still somewhat upset with myself that I thought it best to major in Politics and not continue with Philosophy, for no other reason than that I found it extremely hard. Hard in the sense that it made me have to rethink the way I viewed the world and consistently push myself to move out of my preconceived constructs.
I’ve recently been reading a book that I wanted to share with you. It’s entitled Ten Things Video Games Can Teach Us (about life, philosophy and everything). The book is co-authored by Jordan Erica Webber and Daniel Griliopoulos. It introduces you to the most basic principles of philosophy and teaches you to re-program how you think. But it does it using video games, which is pretty damn cool.
Here’s a great example that Webber uses. Think back to the original Mass Effects trilogy of games. Humanity and their allies are currently at war with the Reapers. As Commander Shepard you need to rescue Admiral Koris from an attack by the Geth. When you contact him he begs you to save his civilian crew instead. In your role in the game you need to make a decision and the age old question of “sacrifice the few to save the many” comes to the fore. That’s a philosophical problem. Webber uses a host of games to present certain social constructs to you and allow you to break them down. The authors also interview game developers who share their own thinking on how development and writing are, many a time, centered around philosophical thinking or just life’s greater questions.
The first few chapters of Ten Things Video Games Can Teach Us start slow. You’re slowly eased in to understanding the constructs and thinking more philosophically before diving in to discussions around violence in video games, whether virtual reality is a type of reality and even how we should be governed – all these debates use video games to illustrate key points.
I’m not going to lie, this book isn’t an easy read. You’re not going to be able to smash out a few pages before bed. Rather you’ll need to be awake and ready to engage your mind and think harder. It is such a fascinating read and if you’re a gaming fan you’ll love the links to popular titles. It also makes it far easier to understand and follow the lines of thinking. This is one of those books that I think every geek girl needs to read, just for the experience of re-examining how you view the world and building on how you think.
It’s a goodie for philosophy and gaming fans alike. You can grab it on Amazon and at most good book stores.
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