Hyperreality is the inability to decipher which is real and fake in the real world. The concept comes from Jean Baudrillard and he sees consumerism hampering our ability as a culture to see the real. I accidentally found one the best examples of hyperreality when I Googled the other day for Mansa Musa.
For some context, when you search a famous person on Google the site will pull in an image of that person like so:
Henry David Thoreau wrote Walden, which is a book about leaving the industrial, technological, and modern life of civilization for a return to the essence of nature. Basically, the book is about a dude who hangs out beside a pond eschewing conveniences of modern life.
It turns out that someone has thought it wise to emulate that idea in a video game.
Responses to the game so far have been mixed. While some have expressed enthusiasm for the idea of virtually recreating Thoreau’s life at Walden Pond, others have scoffed at what seems to them a rank violation of Thoreau’s tenet of living as part of nature; one online commenter noted, “Thoreau would be spinning in his grave knowing that people were about to commit the ultimate in abstraction and try to connect with the natural world through completely mediated means!”
Anybody who’s played the Civilization series knows that it’s possible to lose one’s sense of time while playing a game. In fact, games themselves are good at removing a sense of time by design. Level designers rely on the ability to mess with our perception of time. Heck, I’m not going to lie, I lost track of time playing a few casual games too. I digress, the point is that it’s easy to lose our temporal connection to the world around us thanks to games.
How we understand time is based on our time perception which can be altered in various ways and understood in others. Our understanding of time can be influenced by everything from how hungry we are to what language you speak.
This video is here so the block of text appears more welcoming. It’s the first music video that I saw when searching time on YouTube.
After analyzing the data, the researcher found that time perspective was indeed connected and related to how frequently someone plays video games. Specifically, that “larger amounts of playing time correlates with lower level of future time perspective and higher levels of present time perspective — especially present fatalistic.”
Present fatalistic is connected with dissatisfaction, aggression, and depression. We could hypothesize that people who spend significant time playing develop the present fatalistic orientation.
However, it is more likely that people who already are present fatalistic play more, because playing helps to decrease their negative feelings. This would support Yee’s suggestion that extensive playing is an indicator of mood management.
Yesterday this talk came up twice in two very different conversations, one related to game design and the other related to the nature and necessity of complexity and energy in society. This is a talk worth watching (or listening) to.
The talk in question is a Civilization Far From Equilibrium: Energy, Complexity and Human Survival by Thomas Homer-Dixon. It was delivered last June at the Equinox Summit in Waterloo.