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frelkins comments on Free to Optimize - Less Wrong

25 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 02 January 2009 01:41AM

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Comment author: frelkins 05 January 2009 12:20:56AM -2 points [-]

@Toby Ord

It seems to me that Eli is interested in the known branch of anthropology known as ludology, or game studies. The first ludologist I ever knew of was the eminent philosopher Sir Michael Dummett of Oxford, an amazing, diverse guy. The history of playing cards is one of his specialties, and he has written 2 books on them.

Games can be silly (apparently the only truly universal game is peekaboo - why is that?) or profund (go). They of course are intriguing for what they say about culture, history, innate human ethics, their use of language, their unique sense of time, how they bring diverse people together or start riots, what they "mean," what happens to people who play them, what the heck is play anyway, why do we enjoy them? Why are primates fascinated by them?

This is such a British study - "fair play" is such a crucial British cultural idea! But now you can meet ludologists who work for video game companies - these are usually anthropologists who study human-machine interactions by hanging out with users. My college pal Anne McClard used to do this for Apple and now does this freelance.

In the future, if Eli is both lucky & right, we may have the ethical and moral problem of having nothing to do but play games. Those who might be against Eli's plan might argue this is a reduction of humanity to infantilism, but it could actually reinforce the most beautiful and important human behaviors.

So yes, Eli is interested in ludology, in ludic ethics, and ludic morality.