Envisaging a Game of Subtlety Enabling New Global Dynamics


Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens - TRANSCEND Media Service

Design Implications from an Artificial Intelligence Perspective


20 May 2024 – There is fairly frequent reference to the game metaphor as relevant to comprehension of the current chaotic times. It is of course the case that games of every kind are widely appreciated and a primary focus of popular attention — perhaps as a distraction. Beyond the many traditional games, online gaming and sports have become a focus in their own right. The psychosocial sciences, through transaction analysis, have developed the insight of Eric Berne (Games People Play, 1964). Gamesmanship has been recognized as a key to strategic success (Michael Maccoby, The Gamesman: the new corporate leaders, 1977).

As might be expected, this highly successful framing has been variously adapted to institutions (Games Organizations Play, European Group for Organizational Studies; Political and Social Games Corporations Play, Corporations in Evolving Diversity: Games Nations Play: Analyzing international politics; Games Countries Play). It has also been adapted to academia and other disciplines (Games Academics Play and their consequences; Games Scientists Play; Games Politicians Play; Games Bureaucrats Play; Games Bankers Play; Games Religions Play; Games Philosophers Play). Particular attention has been evoked by the games reputedly played with respect to strategies of social change (Games Climate Scientists Play; Games Environmentalists Play). Arguably the game metaphor is relevant to the military industrial complex and to organized crime.

An insightful approach of relevance to the operation of institutions has been developed as an adaptation of an Eastern martial art by Thierry Gaudin — identifying some 30 katas (Potential insights from kata philosophy? 2016). For Gaudin these are understood as moves in a game engendering the bureaucratic “silence” typically experienced by change agents (L’Écoute des Silences: les institutions contre l’innovation, 1978; Game-playing in global governance? 2016). “Games People Play” can therefore be explored as requisite pointers to comprehension of multidimensionality.

There would however seem to be a fundamental irony to uptake and evolution of the game metaphor. In the case of the psychosocial sciences this is unfortunately suggested by the title of the book by James Hillman and Michael Ventura (We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy — And the World’s Getting Worse, 1992). The irony is potentially all the greater given the considerable investment by mathematicians in sophisticated development of game theory for strategic purposes. Arguably there is little trace of the fruitful application of its insights to global governance — other than in the development of ever more sophisticated war games. The investment in war games of ever larger scale by the military is frequently noted — now extending to outer space. Is there a case for adapting the above title to reflect this: We’ve Had a Hundred Years of Game Theory — And the World’s Getting Worse?

A contrast is to be found in various initiatives to develop “intelligent games“. The term has been primarily associated with an enterprise of that name and its set of video games. A somewhat different emphasis is provided by the extensive series of the International Conference on Intelligent Games and Simulation and the presentations made. A distinction is made between educational and non-educational games in the light of the role of AI in games (Sanda Hammedi, et al, An Investigation of AI in Games: educational intelligent games vs non-educational games, International Multi-Conference on: Organization of Knowledge and Advanced Technologies, 2020).

Any reference to intelligence in relation to games necessarily highlights the question as to which forms of intelligence are intended or implied — given the 8 contrasting forms identified by the theory of multiple intelligences. Potentially more problematic is how the games may be associated with questionable agendas — whether political, religious or otherwise. Especially curious is whether the games are effectively designed as a means of “dumbing down” and reducing the capacity of any particular form of intelligence. Given concerns with the psychological impacts of the violence central to many games, their role in psychic numbing merits recognition.

Seemingly in complete contrast to those emphases, the magnum opus of Nobel Laureate Hermann Hesse alluded elusively to a form of cultural game (The Glass Bead Game, 1943). Efforts have been made to develop such a game on the web (Charles Cameron, A Grail for Game Designers, HipBone Games, 2017). Otherwise known as “the philosophers game”, this followed from Rithmomachia, by which it may well have been inspired (Ann E. Moyer, The Philosopher’s Game: rithmomachia in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, University of Michigan Press, 2001). Science fiction has also imagined games of relevance to governance in the future (Imaginal Education: game playing, science fiction, language, art and world-making, 2003). As expressed by Hesse within the novel: The game as I conceive it leaves (the player) with the feeling that he has extracted from the universe of accident and confusion a totally symmetrical and harmonious cosmos, and absorbed it into himself.

Of current relevance, the approach here follows from an exploration of the possibility of Simulating the Israel-Palestine Conflict as a Strategy Game (2023). This made use of artificial intelligence (in the form of ChatGPT) to determine whether and how a realistic game might be organized. Beyond that binary focus, the concern here is how far greater subtlety and requisite multidimensionality might be designed into such a game (Neglect of Higher Dimensional Solutions to Territorial Conflicts, 2024). In the spirit of The Glass Bead Game, the focus here is on how best to allude to the requisite design — how it might be creatively imagined — rather than seeking immediate and premature closure. This might be understood as a transition From Changing the Strategic Game to Changing the Strategic Frame (2010)

As with several of the earlier exercises cited, the following exploration makes extensive use of AI in the form of ChatGPT (and specifically its Scholar.ai plugin). During the course of the presented exchange, the version initially used was upgraded from ChatGPT-4 to ChatGPT-4o (which seemed less proactively responsive). Reservations regarding such use have been previously noted, both with regard to the questionable verbosity and style of responses, and what could be termed an undue degree of “algorithmic enthusiasm” for the relevance of the questions posed (Eliciting integrative insight via ChatGPT, 2024). The role of such AI facilities as an “aggregator” of non-numeric information, rather than as a “computer” of numeric data was noted. Of particular interest however is critical assessment of the extent to which the responses frame new insights rather than a preponderance of “strategic clichés” — potentially derived from the reports of that quality which feature in many authoritative references.

As previously noted, a merit of this approach is that readers can explore alternative articulations by repeating (or amending) the questions to the AI facilities to which they have access — especially as those facilities become more sophisticated and have a wider access to published research. For reading convenience, the responses of ChatGPT are presented below in grayed areas.

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