MSc Student Particle-/Astroparticle Physics @VU - S#: 2123487
Portfolio - Serious Games
Michio Kaku, renowned physicist in the field of string theory, once argued that on the Kardashev scale, humankind is a Type 0 civilization. Our technology has helped the people unite to a certain extent: We can communicate throughout the globe in a matter of seconds, share food and products, and offer each other a looking glass for different cultures. Yet, there is still a lot of division that prevents us from truly harvesting the full capability of ourselves and our planet, rendering us unworthy of truly calling ourselves a ‘planetary civilization’.
For a “cultural” Utopia, I believe the most important step is for humankind to learn how to accept the inherent differences of people, to respect each other’s culture and religions while also considering the value of humankind as a species and all our responsibilities for it. This does not seem like an easy task considering how much friction between groups has been responsible for conflict in the past. It has only been recently, after the Great Wars of the 20th century where we learned of our capability to destroy ourselves, that the need for unity has become pressing. Older generations that seem to try to pull their nations back into mindsets of isolationism and nationalism should eventually be replaced by newer generations, and instilling a cooperative mindset into the future still seems possible. This is also why media platforms, namely the Internet and social networking platforms, should remain independent and free so that communication can be accelerated.
In many places in society, it is already possible to see Utopia-themed ideas at work. This is most prominent in science, where borders between countries seem to have faded. Even during the cold war when politics between the USA and USSR could not be more divided, cases such as the research on cosmic rays and the GZK-effect show that scientists can still work together. The tools used by science are shared: Think of open-source licensed software used on nearly every scientific computer, but also how the world’s largest nuclear physics lab is currently being shared among 22 governments. Artists are following up as well with initiatives such as Creative Commons, a special license that renders art as a public domain after the Digital Millennium Copyright Act has largely turned art and music into legal, competitive concepts.
Even as a worldwide community, humans are faced with looming challenges in the near future. Poverty, disease, and the imminent depletion of natural resources are issues that require a drastic realignment of people’s mindsets to be resolved. We have seen that widening the schism between the rich and poor has failed not only the humanity of society, but the economy as well. It is important that people are encouraged to participate in the economy, and to put effort into improving themselves, but at the same time they should not have to despair or struggle to get by. For this, the uneven load on the different classes of society should be redistributed. Everyone should have a basis, an income that will keep them in a fit state to survive, while those that are well-to-do should be inspired to continue contributing to the economy: It is not how rich people are that determines the power of an economy, but rather how much money flows to create a successful productive society.
The “nice thing” about fossil fuels is that they are the most tangible form of energy. It is more attractive to buy a certain number of barrels of oil rather than a certain amount of kWh of solar power. While oil has stimulated the trade, it could also be blamed for a lot of corruption and cutthroat competition that has resolved itself in war and oppression of people. This is yet without mentioning the fleeting nature of these fuels. The transition to clean energy is necessary and, albeit difficult and met with reluctance, increasingly possible with new investments in durable energy projects as well as scientific developments. Should the world-economy be ready for it, scientists are already set to switch to sustainable energy today, so they say.
What role do games play in all of this? One could take a look at the newest generations, millennials and post-millennials alike, and see the role that modern forms of media, which includes video games, has taken in their lives. In one way it has drawn them away from traditional forms of play, like sports and tabletop games. In another, it has taught them to take advantage of the new ways of communication in an entertaining, motivating way. A game can be so much more than a way to waste time: Developers can use games to spread political ideas, and teach players through experience what they failed to grasp simply reading from books, which might seem relatable to many people. Even now, more and more students, be it in elementary or higher education, are learning through play. This motivates them, helps them get involved in the new paradigm of communication that is cyberspace, and still brings them the curriculum they need.
“…What a wonderful world this would be.” - Sam Cooke