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The video game is more than just a distraction!

It can challenge a techno-materialist view of life

In a recent article at Patheos, Eric Holloway argues that the better video games are not just a pleasant time sink; they uniquely blend two cultural artifacts, art and games,: that have historically been separate:

It is the concept of learning by doing. Traditional art can tell us things, and instantly transport the observer to new experiences, especially music. Games, on the other hand, can help us experience and internalize a concept by active participation, which can be for good or ill. For example, there almost certainly feedback between violent video games and our violent society.

Eric Holloway, “Video Games as Scientism’s Totem” at Eidos

Beyond that, he suggests, even though video games are a “totem” of a purely materialist worldview, they can help demonstrate its deficiencies:

So, concretely, what are some computer game aspects that can demonstrate properties that transcend material reality? One of the most straightforward is multiplayer games. It is very clear that human opponents have much more interesting and intelligent behavior than the AI controlled opponents. While AIs might cheat to outperform human players, AIs are unable to exhibit creativity and strategic thinking beyond their predefined limits. This intuitively makes the point that computational intelligence is limited compared to human intelligence.

Eric Holloway, “Video Games as Scientism’s Totem” at Eidos

He develops his thinking in more detail in “Artificial intelligence must be possible! Really…?”, “Human intelligence as a halting oracle, and in an academic setting in The Logical Possibility of Halting Oracles, Communications of the Blyth Institute, Vol 1 No 1 (2019): Issue 1:1.

Holloway concludes that “…while video games often are used to trap people within a limited worldview, focusing on the mechanics of video games can open a window in our worldview.”

Those who wish to influence the culture should note that as of 2017, ““statistically, video games are the most popular and profitable form of entertainment,” beating TV/streaming by $116 billion to $105 billion. Hollywood, whose values are routinely dismissed as hopeless, is most often newsworthy now for its declining fortunes and criminal indictments. The future of popular influence is elsewhere now.

Before you go: By way of illustration, Adam Nieri offers some reflections on the value choices we can make in a popular game involving androids who achieve humanity:

A Closer Look at Detroit: Become Human, Part I Gaming culture provides a window into our culture’s assumptions about artificial intelligence

A Closer Look at Detroit: Become Human, Part II One pillar, if you like, of the worldview of the “Church of AI” is the belief that our embrace of artificial intelligence is a step on the road to a higher form of life. Looking more closely, we can see that the stupidity and insignificance of human beings is a central dogma in the AI religion.


A Closer Look at Detroit: Become Human, Part III The second pillar of the AI religion is reductionism, the reduction of humanity to matter and energy

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The video game is more than just a distraction!