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MaoShan comments on Emotional Involvement - Less Wrong

12 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 06 January 2009 10:23PM

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Comment author: MaoShan 25 November 2010 06:37:16AM 0 points [-]

"Can your emotions get involved in a video game? Yes, but not much. Whatever sympathetic echo of triumph you experience on destroying the Evil Empire in a video game, it's probably not remotely close to the feeling of triumph you'd get from saving the world in real life. I've played video games powerful enough to bring tears to my eyes, but they still aren't as powerful as the feeling of significantly helping just one single real human being.Because when the video game is finished, and you put it away, the events within the game have no long-term consequences."

I remember when I was around twelve years old or so, playing F-Zero (a hovercraft racing game) for SNES. I was playing on Master Class, and very close to the end, my craft blew up suddenly, and my already racing heart leapt, and it was so emotionally wrenching that I was on the floor in a state of near-catatonia for several minutes. And this was with 16-bit graphics. A sort of voluntary psychosis, but isn't that what consciousness is? A psychosis that corresponds well to your environment? Even if you learn no specific intellectual lessons from videogames, the emotional experiences will still carry lasting effects on your personality--to the extent that you are involved. You can link the two worlds by investing more in the imaginary, which is at present mostly a voluntary procedure. Therefore videogames could be a useful tool for experimenting with the limits of human psyches with fewer permanent effects than reconfiguring whole systems of neurons.