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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

So simple an idea…

I was at Mikki's bar mitzvah for Shabbat, and it was the boring part where all the ordinary adults were talking among themselves. That's always the best time for coming up with ideas, because my brain hasn't got anything better to be doing. A few kharedis at the table were talking about society. As someone got up to make what was sure to be a lengthy speech, I excused myself from the room and began pacing outside.

A blog post was forming in my head:

Tending Toward Gray

Whatever makes one person happy will make another person unhappy, and vice versa. Therefore, a society built on diversity and compromise will tend toward neutrality, not making anyone unhappy but also not making anyone happy. That society would have no identity, and no one would care about it. A society with restrictions and strong convictions is a society with character; that would be a society worth having.
And then I thought, no one's going to agree with me on that point. So why not use a friendly metaphor to illustrate the concept? Show what happens when you mix lots of random colors together. A little Flash animation (granted, I'd have to learn Flash) which takes random colors and combines them all. The longer you keep this program going, the more gray and boring the mix of colors gets.

And then I thought, that's not quite clear enough. There need to be buttons to impose filters on the colors that go through. That way, you see that if you've got convictions, if you know what it is that you want, you get something pretty. And if you shut off those filters, if you don't know what you want, then you'll reach the natural neutrality.

And then I thought, well, you're still not seeing how this affects people. There's more to a society than just the politician. Without people who will be happy or unhappy, the metaphor's still incomplete.

(The speech inside was very long.)

And then I thought, wouldn't this be more engaging and thought-provoking if it were more interactive? Why not make a whole game out of it? I'd intended to go straight into "The March of Bulk", but I could finish a game that simple in a month or two and then jump back to the plan. Simple little stick figures for people with simple little smilie faces for opinions.

And then I thought, well, this feature should be in it. And how should I present that? And maybe it'll need a bit more interactivity there, and maybe there are people trying to do your job for you so that you see the direction society's headed in without your intervention. And the more I thought, the more I started seeing that this was a metaphor which could be applied to just about anything- not just politics and society and religion, but art and child-raising and especially videogames with their gray graphics and title="Purity">multitudes of disconnected gameplays. This was so much bigger than a blog post; this was a commentary on the importance of vision and convictions in the world!

And the more I thought, the bigger this idea became. If I hadn't just then noticed title="Not Alone">a guy standing behind a tree, my idea might have grown to the size of the moon!



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