Are We Your Type? Pt. 1
Before we get too far, we need to make one thing abundantly clear: We have no idea who you are or why you’re here right now. Yes, analytics help and, yes, we have an idea you possibly followed a tweet. We aren’t talking about that, though.
That isn’t to say we don’t want to know you and prefer you leave—we’re pleased as punch you’ve read this much—rather, the handy dandy tools available these days to marketers, advertisers, and Baxters alike do about as good a job as Picasso at accurately and deeply portraying, well, anyone. They ignore completely (or, at best, represent abstractly) the roles personality and motivation play in guiding human behavior.
Avid game designers and players know the power of compelling stories, and that people play games throughout life. We humbly want to encourage the demographers, ethnographers, and all you other “-ographers” out there to find the stories people are living. Right now. We’ll wait while you check.
No matter how sophisticated the method, analysis or doohickey-of-the-month, Science takes us only so far into the pits of human motivation.
Yes, you can scan our brains all day as we watch cartoons and Top Chef reruns, or respond to loaded questions in unnatural focus groups, and see how different regions twinkle like a shorted out Lite Brite, but you can’t measure our feelings. The experience belongs to us and us alone.
But, you can relate. That’s why you spent good money to rent the fMRI machine in the first place, right?
Sensibility to the Rescue
Since the time we thought we knew it all, we have defined our lives, our world, and our interactions through stories. Even today, expression reigns supreme.
Countless as they are, our telling and retelling of stories tugs our primal genes and guides our lives, instinctively tapping into our inherited unconscious psyche. In other words, we haven’t changed that much over time. Your great great great grandparents lived in a vibrant, lush world (no matter what the black-and-white photos show).
We attempt to reconcile the unknown with the known in a complex version of Labyrinth; keep the ball out of the traps long enough and the solution will eventually make sense. And after enough experience, of repeatedly failing and retrying, we master the task—which isn’t the same as perfecting it—and continue our journey.
And as our civilization advances, so do our stories. Don’t they?
Behold, the Archetype
Roused by the archetypal psychology work of Carl G. Jung, gurus traipse the globe helping companies and organizations understand this very important principle: Character is key and it transcends culture. Lovers in Barcelona are more similar to lovers in Walla Walla than you think.
A lover, for example, cannot merely say the words a lover says in order to woo the object of their affection. They must be love, oozing it from every sappy pore on their amorous little body. And once they’ve done that, they do it some more.
If, after an unsuccessful poetry reading outside their muse’s window they realize s/he has a thing for “rebels”, and they ditch the shtick for a leather jacket and switchblade, they’ll be seen as desperate, a fake.
Commitment matters, sure, but integrity matters more.
In the immortal words of John Locke (the philosopher, not the smoke monster), “The discipline of desire is the background of character.”
Think of all the characters you know: the ornery grandmother whose wisdom feels practical and timeless, the plucky college graduate out to change the world, the office flirt looking for a little fun, or the middle-aged father of two who decides it time to lead the life he never had, but always wanted.
Here Today, Gone Today
In short, people are only moments in time. We live out the archetypes at play in our minds right now, and how we experience the world has little to do with annual salary, owning a home, or making an fMRI display turn green instead of blue. As such, games offer inroads to these archetypes aplenty.
We’ll continue this in another post, but until then, what’s your story, what brought you here, and why are you still reading?