Discovering your own game table
I spent a long while looking for my place and a career I could enjoy. I was already working on my Master’s thesis on the hormonal changes caused by gambling when, three years back, I realized my life had come a full circle – it was time to return to the world of games that I so adored.
I was attending an inspiring lecture on games and their future by Peter Vesterbacka from Rovio. I decided to change my career path immediately after listening to his presentation. I changed the topic of my thesis to “How to cause an impact with games” and quit my part time job playing poker, redirecting my previous poker winnings to funding research and development of games.
I realized that over the years I had gathered a fortune in games and science and I could combine that with my passion and actually have a scalable effect. The past three years have been overwhelmingly the best time in my life, career wise. I’ve gotten to know some amazing people who share my vision and to burn my bankroll on learning a whole new, lovely game of skill.
Sitting at a poker table often made me feel like I was wasting my life. I was taking risks and enjoying impulses that held no value or meaning – their only worth was in the money I was making. I felt like a winner of a small game, worth nothing or worse as a part of the metagame.
In my current mission, taking risks has gained a deeper meaning. I’ve almost spent the savings I gathered over the years and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it, feeling like the risk is for something bigger, something truly meaningful.
I started researching how the human mind could be affected. My experiences with game tables’ fervor and effect on the brain might be crucial for stimulating emotions. The goal is to get people to think, to understand and to look for the truth. You could also call this process entertainment science.
The human brain is a great mystery. What we know of it is the bare minimum of the fantastic whole. We can alter our brain through the choices we make. We can also encourage people to live and think in ways that support the happiness of lonely individuals as well as the survival of our species as a whole in a manner that sticks to the boundaries of our ecosystem.
Earlier, I discussed the power of sales psychology – the skill game of the mind: how to sell ideas and thoughts. Could we sell others something, that they actually need; an understanding of their own behaviour and their relationship with the world around them? Would that make people happier? Would it be possible to combine the game cards so that the resulting hand could even change the crash course of humanity and the ecosystem?
How to bluff people – and save the future of the world?
How do you play a game of skill in a manner that sells people understanding, curiosity and motivation to learn more?
This question continues to puzzle teachers of natural sciences around the world, while also perplexing executives at governmental level, considering how an ever increasing number of future work positions are located in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Despite this demand, the subjects are failing to entice young students. For them, these fields are difficult, challenging, laborious and unsexy. Traditionally, encouraging the youth to study natural science involves education reforms and redesigned classrooms – teaching them better. It might be surprising, but the biggest impact is actually caused by something entirely different. Only those with the sharpest of eyes and the best understanding will realize the depths of the metagame.
A few years back, when I grasped the power of mental games of skill, I noticed how large an effect entertainment could have on youth – something no education reform could achieve. I started watching a TV series called The Big Bang Theory, a show that’s had remarkable success in both the U.S. and Europe. It didn’t take me long to see how full the series was of the very same well explored psychological metagame methods that the tobacco industry, lured by the idea of profit, had used to kill millions of people over the past century, the same methods that the gambling industry used to get youths to build their identities around card games. Those same, clever tricks that had made adolescents fall in love with things that trapped their lives and brains, were now reproduced in a family-friendly TV show that associated science with status, sex, power, friendship, funny stereotypes and interesting dynamics of human interactions, including the most clichéd of clichés, the ”neighbour’s cat” setup.
Naturally, the show served the big metagame agenda of the United States, that of getting more teens interested in natural science, very well. The hooked youth would make for a valuable work force in the near future. The series was globally broadcasted, so the impact would reach well beyond the borders of the U.S., improving the status – or profile – of natural scientists, increasing the lure of studies in the field, perhaps even so much that a well informed mind might estimate a 50% increase in the numbers of teens interested in studying STEM subjects, thanks to The Big Bang Theory and Brian Cox, who also does very important work in popularizing science.
Whoever it was that came up with the concept for The Big Bang Theory, they’ve either designed an incredible positive impact when it comes to the future of the whole world, or it’s all a freaky coincidence. Personally, I firmly believe in an intelligent and methodical person’s or people’s systematical skill games of the mind.
If my guess is right, the truth is something people would like to keep secret. We humans want to learn, not be taught. We want to discover things ourselves, not be led astray – even if it’s in the positive sense. I used to laugh at conspiracy theories. Yet the world proves more remarkable each day.
As social psychology mentions, the bigger choices we make in our lives are often directed by the influences we received when we were young. We pick the features of our partner, our career, our beliefs and several other, meaningful things very early on. It’s generally all done outside the reach of the conscious mind, but this behavioural foundation allows for a whole new realm of possibilities to the best players of mental game of skill. It also provides them with a considerable responsibility.
You’ll never guess the greatness that is created when the addictive nature and interactivity of games are combined with the appropriate mission of entertainment science.