The Grand Thesis

by Darius Kazemi on April 15, 2005

in Uncategorized

So my IQP (thesis) needs finalization. I have lots of interesting chapters, but there’s no real coherency to the paper. Here’s my reason for writing the paper, although I’m just making this up now:

In essence, the problem that I have seen in the games industry, from the many conferences I’ve been to and developers I’ve interacted with, is that game developers take too narrow a view of what they are doing. We are concerned with first-order effects of our games, such as sales, how much fun the player is having, violence we may or may not be directly inspiring, and so on. What about second-order effects? Our games may be promoting an instrumentalist view of reality, a view that is detrimental to rational human progress. Our games may be causing our players to develop a hero complex, a notion that works against ideas of teamwork and promotes mindless individualism. (Note: I approve of individualism, but not in its deprecated forms. I may come back to this later.) While I don’t think that video games cause school shootings, I do think that there is something wrong with presenting “kill everything” as a valid solution (or an invalid but glorified solution) to life’s problems. Maybe as game developers, we see these problems in our peripheral vision. But our brains go, ack, huge problem! and ignore the issues as either inevitable side effects or as not problems in the first place.

So I’ve pointed out what I see as the problem that my thesis is addressing. But what does my thesis actually offer? Sadly, I have few answers that game developers can use. But what I really want to see happen as a result of my throwing these ideas out into the world is for game developers to stop ignoring these issues. Even if the issues can’t be solved, at least consider them during the process of game development. I’m not saying stop making Doom clones. Keep on making Doom clones, but think about these issues. I believe that if we do this, we may naturally, over time, come up with more interesting baby steps towards solving these gigantic problems.

And that’s it. My thesis throws out some ideas, and what I really want is for game developers to think about these. I know for a fact that I will bring up these issues at any company I work for. And I want anyone who reads my thesis, or reads this blog, to consider these issues as well.

So the dilemma is this: how does this make my thesis coherent? It’s fragmented almost by design. Any thoughts would be appreciated. My advisor really wants me to pull my writing together.


Craig Perko April 15, 2005 at 3:57 pm

Considering the flak I’m getting on the IDGA forums for suggesting a ghostly version of this same type of idea, your paper will probably not be well received in the industry. :)

As to how to pull everything together, I don’t have any useful advice. As you might have noticed, I have a hard time pulling things together myself. But I have a feeling you’ll manage.

Darius Kazemi April 15, 2005 at 4:11 pm

Please point me to some of these forum discussions!

Craig Perko April 15, 2005 at 6:38 pm

Well, let’s see…

The currently active one is

but it’s not specifically for that purpose. I’ve touched on it in half a dozen other threads, it never fails to start a holy war.

There’s probably fifty threads over the history of the forums that deal with this sort of thing. I’m not sure what words I would search for, though.

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