Games and intimacy

October 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Because there is so little opportunity for intimacy in daily life, and because some forms of intimacy (especially if intense) are psychologically impossible for most people, the bulk of the time in serious social life is taken up with playing games. Hence games are both necessary and desirable, and the only problem at issue is whether the games played by an individual offer the best yield for him.” Eric Berne, Games People Play

According to Berne, social interaction serves to satisfy our need for emotional stimulus, the best of which is secured by intimacy. But as intimacy is rather hard to come by, other forms of social interaction satisfy emotional needs with less risk and greater predictability. Games are both common to participants and offer a chance to exercise skill and competence. Because they structure interaction, they make outcomes more likely, regardless of whether these are entertaining or serious.

Online, games are of course transformed by the technology and applications that mediate transactions. That is, game playing is transformed. I’m very interested in what we can take from our understanding of structured interactions offline to structured online interaction. I suspect that we are only beginning to apply social insights to our design of social tools.

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