From my foray into gaming I’ve noticed two things which remind me of the ‘life imitates art’ adege. Firstly, one thing I’ve noticed which seemingly converges into real life is how government initiatives orient towards providing incentives to citizen behaviour. This reminds me directly of the RPG merit system, where more experience points or allocation of ‘level up’ points improves the player character, which implicitly forms an incentive to improve oneself. Life doesn’t seem to have the same appeal of levelling up.
I was listening to a programme lately which suggested the suggest of giving incentives to improve people’s behaviour. This sounds like some overt form of operant conditioning and it seems to merge gaming with life. Consider for instance the xbox achievement system where one gains points for completing various feats in a game, this transfers in all sorts of other online behaviours from foursquare to facebook’s farmville. Behaviour motivated by incentive seems to be something which is harnessed commercially.
Another aspect of gaming I found interesting was the moral aspect of many games, namely, how in many games a clear distinction between good and evil is forged. In a sense, it is this clarity which makes the game an enjoyable experience. This aspect of gaming does seem to be challenged in other more cynical games which have a more conscientious angle to their construction. I suspect that teaching by incentive and the uncritical acceptance of the rules of a game may transfer to real life. People often ask the question of whether games have become an art form. To ask this misses the point, the answer is implicitly some form of yes’. The question should be directed more to: is gaming part of the culture industry and propagation of cultural norms and social education?