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Anticipatory Gaming: Informing the Anticipatory Governance Process through Digital Media

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Science fiction themed video games, specifically Role Playing Games (RPGs) like Deus Ex: Human Revolution (DX:HR), that focus on an emerging technology, contain features that help to better inform anticipatory

Science fiction themed video games, specifically Role Playing Games (RPGs) like Deus Ex: Human Revolution (DX:HR), that focus on an emerging technology, contain features that help to better inform anticipatory governance. In a game like DX:HR, players vicariously experience human-enhancement technology and its societal effects through their in-game character. Acting as the character, the player explores the topic of human-enhancement technology in various ways, including dialogue with non-player characters (NPCs) and decisions that directly affect the game's world. Because Deus Ex: Human Revolution and games similar to it, allow players to explore and think about the technology itself, the stances on it, and its potential societal effects, they facilitate the anticipatory governance process. In this paper I postulate a theory of anticipatory gaming, which asserts that video games inform the anticipatory governance process for an emerging technology. To demonstrate this theory I examine the parts of the anticipatory governance process and demonstrate RPG's ability to inform it, through a case study of Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

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Date Created
  • 2013-05

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The resilience engine: generating personhood, place and power in virtual worlds, 2008-2010

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This document builds a model, the Resilience Engine, of how a given sociotechnical innovation contributes to the resilience of its society, where the failure points of that process might be,

This document builds a model, the Resilience Engine, of how a given sociotechnical innovation contributes to the resilience of its society, where the failure points of that process might be, and what outcomes, resilient or entropic, can be generated by the uptake of a particular innovation. Closed systems, which tend towards stagnation and collapse, are distinguished from open systems, which through ongoing encounters with external novelty, tend towards enduring resilience. Heterotopia, a space bounded from the dominant order in which novelty is generated and defended, is put forth as the locus of innovation for systemic resilience, defined as the capacity to adapt to environmental changes. The generative aspect of the Resilience Engine lies in a dialectic between a heterotopia and the dominant system across a membrane which permits interaction while maintaining the autonomy of the new space. With a model of how innovation, taken up by agents seeking power outside the dominant order, leads to resilience, and of what generates failures of the Resilience Engine as well as successes, the model is tested against cases drawn from two key virtual worlds of the mid-2000s. The cases presented largely validate the model, but generate a crucial surprise. Within those worlds, 2008-2010 saw an abrupt cultural transformation as the dialectic stage of the Resilience Engine's operation generated victories for the dominant order over promising emergent attributes of virtual heterotopia. At least one emergent practice has been assimilated, generating systemic resilience, that of the conference backchannel. A surprise, however, comes from extensive evidence that one element never problematized in thinking about innovation, the discontent agent, was largely absent from virtual worlds. Rather, what users sought was not greater agency but the comfort of submission over the burdens of self-governance. Thus, aside from minor cases, the outcome of the operation of the Resilience Engine within the virtual worlds studied was the colonization of the heterotopic space for the metropolis along with attempts by agents both external and internal to generate maximum order. Pursuant to the Resilience Engine model, this outcome is a recipe for entropic collapse and for preventing new heterotopias from arising under the current dominant means of production.

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Date Created
  • 2013