Rationality and Video Games

by Alexei 2 min read18th Sep 201173 comments


There are two points which I want to cover here. First is about my own game, and second is about raising the sanity waterline through games.


Point one: "Girl with a Heart of"

It's been over a year since I found LW community, and as soon as I finished the Sequences I realized I want to dedicate my life to making games that raise the sanity waterline. I've started working on a game to do just that in January 2011. The game is called "Girl with a Heart of", and it's very close to being done. In this game I wanted to present the idea of recursive self-improvement in a way that's intuitively accessible to an average person. I don't think I've succeeded, but I'll leave the discussion of reasons behind that for postmortem. Suffice to say, presenting ideas in text, even if they are part of a game, doesn't make them more intuitive. In fact, the player might as well just read the original article/post.

You can see screenshots of the game here: http://bentspoongames.imgur.com/girl_with_a_heart_of

For the most part, the game is just a choose-your-own adventure game. There is a lot of dialog. There are many various ideas, which I took from LW posts, and you'll probably recognize most of them when you play the game.

I've also started a Kickstarter project to help me finish the game: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bentspoongames/girl-with-a-heart-of

This is a nice way to preorder the game if you are interested. However, no money will be charged unless the fund goal is met. (If people object to this link, I can remove it.)

I am not asking you for donations, since most people on LW donate to causes that are a lot more important, but I will ask for support. If you have friends that like adventure games, or you have friends that like reading, then let them know about this game. Follow the game - and myself - on Facebook and Twitter. That's where I'll be posting updates about the next game I'll be working on.


Point two: Using games to raise the sanity waterline.

My first game was/will be a bust in terms of this, but the idea itself is not without merit, but I don't want to start discussing game design in this post. What I am looking for are people who are interested in making this happen, whether by doing art, programming, design, PR, or contributing resources: connections, expertise, and/or funding. For me, this will be a full time job (if I can get funding/money) and my primary goal for the near - and I hope far - future.

I'll be moving to the Bay Area in the next month, so I would love to meet up with anyone who is sincerely interested in working on this. And even if you don't live in the area, let me know either way, and we can work together remotely.

Not everyone likes reading, and not everyone can learn the ideas from the way they are presented in the Sequences. I want to take those very basic ideas, and present them in a different format, which I hope will be more accessible, fun, and, in the end, more fruitful. Think HP:MoR, but in game form. My goal is to build a community of people who are interested in building games that leave the player with tangible, useful knowledge and skills. My goal is to create lots of games that people can play for fun, while receiving measurable benefits (in my case: rationality training). These games might even be used for training basic skills in rationality camps. During this year's mini-camp a lot of people, including myself, praised poker for its lessons in rationality, but we can easily create a game that focuses a lot more on those skills.

I am very curious to hear your thoughts on this, whatever they might be.