Game talkAkoha, social game for kindness

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Mar 172009
 

Akoha is an interesting idea — one bound to run right up against the qualms of those folks who dislike using games for social engineering.

You buy a deck of cards for about $5. It has missions in it, like “buy a couple in love drinks,” “donate an hour of your time,” or “give someone a book.”

Once you do the good deed, you give the card to the reicipient of the good deed, and they “play it forward” — the mission is now theirs. They also go to the website and register the deed so that you get credited with points. You can track the movement of the cards across the world, kind of like how you can track dollar bills with Where’s George.

You gain points, you level up, and eventually you unlock perks like the ability to create your own missions — the plan is they will print your own custom deck of cards for you. Cory, here’s your whuffie.

If you look at their “learn more” link (engagingly done as a photocomic) you can see that they do envision this being mostly played among friends, although mention is made of strangers. In that sense, it is less a serious game than it is a social game, but the pay it forward element, should it offer enough incentives, has interesting potential. I could easily see something like this catching on among the sort of widely dispersed tech-savvy folks who make up the web and gaming communities…

  47 Responses to “Akoha, social game for kindness”

  1. Imagine a deck of cards aimed at revitalising transients/homeless people!

    ‘Buy a friend a sandwich’ or ‘Help a friend find a shelter for the night.’

    Although they would need an internet connection to submit their results, hm…

    Well, random philanthropic benefactors could still go around using quest cards on less-fortunate people!

  2. Wow. This is a really cool idea, wish I’d thought of it. Kudos to them for thinking up a design that serves a greater purpose than just entertainment.

    Of course, you might have some issues with giving cards to people who don’t get it.

    “Hey, I did something cool for you, here’s the quest card, your turn.”
    “…What?”
    “It’s this internet game…”
    *recipient’s eyes glaze over*

    Still, it’s a really interesting concept. I’ll have to give it some thought. Thanks for posting. :)

  3. That is so cute! I love it!

  4. Awesome :)

  5. Bought my cards:)

  6. Way cool. Whuffie indeed!

    The comic-as-intro thing is really catching on. I’m assuming you saw Scott McCloud’s one for Google Chrome?

    Akoha’s game is very intriguing. If they were smart they’d seed the very communities you are talking about by giving out (in an amount limited enough to make it a sought-after item) card packs at SXSW and GDC.

    It would both help and hurt their chances of success to make it an ad-funded biz model. i.e. give card packs away, but have the coffee card sponsored by starbucks, etc. Less cred, but more distribution by giving it away.

    Hmm…

  7. I find the concept very romantic. Especially as a way for proactive thought toward strangers. This world doesn’t have enough of that.

    However, I see the success or failure of this depending greatly on the receiver deciding to play, when they are not the one who made the call to start the game in the first place. That will depend greatly on area, I believe.

    I am from Texas, and when I first moved to LA, I held open a door for an elderly woman (as is the custom in Texas) and she looked at me like I was either a serial killer, or Christ, then scurried away.

    I can see some strangers wanting to get away from you as quickly as possible when presented with this concept. But the loss is theirs. So let us proceed. :)

  8. Different, I like it.

    Now to level up so I can make cards, so that people will get missions to provide aide to a poor person in Austin at a specific address… *Shifty*

  9. What is a good think about it, is that creating the same game with bad goals like -I don’t know- steal from a couple in love drinks, wouldn’t work as well. Because one of the key element is that the target has to acknowledge the action ; which is also why it should be played between friends else you could end up in a situation like James described.

  10. You verify the authenticity of your participation with a webcam, to give someone else points… I can see this won’t be a hit with the WoW PvP crowd ;)

  11. I am from Texas, and when I first moved to LA, I held open a door for an elderly woman (as is the custom in Texas) and she looked at me like I was either a serial killer, or Christ, then scurried away.

    Well, that’s just LA. Big, big-city folks. I’m from San Diego, California — not San Diego, Texas — and I always hold doors open for everyone. One evening, I held a door for a police officer. He stopped in his tracks and the look on his face told me that he never knew kindness when in uniform.

  12. call me antisocial, but random kindness from strangers makes me more suspicious then thankful… feels too much like the setup of a scam. add in some weird props designed to throw people off, like these, and I’m running out of there :P

    definitely a game just for friends.

  13. It’s an interesting concept, but I have to wonder if altruism with an explicit obligation attached is really altruism at all. The best thing about altruism is that it’s self-perpetuating; doing something nice for another person increases the odds that they’ll do something nice for other people, without any obligation at all. Imposing a condition on the act, particularly when the the act is unsolicited, undermines that dynamic and fosters resentment.

  14. A gift with a return address is no gift.

    It’s sad when holding a door open increases suspicion. Times like these…

  15. I think my tweets turned Raph onto Akoha, which is cool :)

    If they were smart they’d seed the very communities you are talking about by giving out (in an amount limited enough to make it a sought-after item) card packs at SXSW and GDC.

    I believe this is exactly what they do. They actually go further than that sometimes too. They created a special deck of cards inspired by TED. Someone from Akoha will also be speaking at GDC as part of some Serious Games thing.

    I have to wonder if altruism with an explicit obligation attached is really altruism at all

    No, this is not altruism, which is by definition completely unselfish. The entire point is to make the world a better place by creating more good deeds, making people smile, and so on. What does it matter what their true or ulterior motivations are? A smile is a smile is a smile. If this game makes the world a better place by encouraging people to compete in the performance of good deeds then that would be pretty remarkable.

  16. A gift with a return address is no gift.

    I think you missed the point. There is no metaphorical return address. The card is simply a physical representation of the good deed, a reminder that a friend or stranger performed this act of kindness. There is no obligation or even encouragement to return the gift in kind. It encourages people to pass on the act of kindness to someone else.

    It is a gift with a blank return address and postage paid.

  17. Sounds pretty similar (but not quite the same) as AngelQuest, which has been around for a few years now:

    http://angelquest.com/

  18. I have to wonder if altruism with an explicit obligation attached is really altruism at all. [...] Imposing a condition on the act, particularly when the the act is unsolicited, undermines that dynamic and fosters resentment.

    I’m from the egoist school of thought where altruism, like perfection, is an unattainable ideal. We can aspire to be selfless. We can aspire to be perfect. But we’re human.

    Egoism asserts that there is an intrinsic reward for every good and bad deed. We are self-interested, which doesn’t necessarily imply selfishness, a wholly negative trait. The reward isn’t always obvious or tangible. The reward can be as simple and honest as feeling good and fair.

    This truth of the human condition doesn’t undermine the dynamic and foster resentment; our self-interest is reinforcement. Our self-interest is our greatest strength and our most fragile weakness.

  19. It’s sad when holding a door open increases suspicion. Times like these…

    Yeah that’s kind of weird, because door holding is not really random; it’s often the most natural thing to do in many situations.

    If this game makes the world a better place by encouraging people to compete in the performance of good deeds then that would be pretty remarkable.

    see, this is the kind of thing that throws me off :P

    western culture already has an underlying tendency to motivate people towards self-righteousness. it has a history of foisting it’s values, like christianity, liberalism and democracy, on the ‘ignorant’.

    random kindness should be reserved for friends and family, as a manifestation of good will that already exists. giving candies to strangers flirts with creepiness.

  20. I have never gotten an odd look from holding the door open for people. And I do it for everyone. Sometimes, they pause a bit, as if waiting for it to slam on their face, look at me as if waiting for me to actually do it, and then continue on their way.

    But I’ve also never been to LA.

  21. @michel: I understand. I was replying to Yukon.

    I have to wonder if altruism with an explicit obligation attached is really altruism at all

    If someone steams when I am holding a door open for them, I can’t help that. It is efficient. I also address women as ‘mad’m’ regardless of age and that doesn’t go down well in cultures outside my own. I won’t apologize for it because it is polite where I live and habitual otherwise. One can only do so much to be aware and then tolerance has to take over.

  22. I do see that it could be a problem if the other person throws the card in the trash, and I’m sure there will be some of that going on, but let’s hope that a few will continue the good deed. Sort of like paying for the person behind you in a fast food place.

  23. lakdsjf: western culture already has an underlying tendency to motivate people towards self-righteousness.

    Altruism is a human tendency, not a Western one, and the only cultures in which it is not widely seen are those under the worst sort of survival stress (and even then it pops up in surprising ways).

    lakdsjf: random kindness should be reserved for friends and family, as a manifestation of good will that already exists.

    I’d disagree, strongly. Empathy, the ability to understand the feelings and motivations of others and the desire to help them, is one of the most significant leaps forward in evolution (I would have said human evolution, but similar behaviors can be observed a wide variety of mammals). Nor is empathy confined to kinship groups: animals as divergent as gorillas, bears, dogs and dolphins have been observed to exhibit altruism towards animals that not only aren’t related, but which aren’t even the same species! The absence of empathy is not a valid philosophical position, it’s a pathology.

    Morgan: I’m from the egoist school of thought where altruism, like perfection, is an unattainable ideal.

    I think we’re operating from different definitions. As it’s used in behavioral science, altruism is an observable complex of behaviors. Granted, there are neurochemical processes that reinforce and reward these behaviors, so I can see your point. But the result arguably is more important than the motivation.

    As far as the game goes: if there’s no explicit obligation to “pay it forward”, I withdraw my objection.

  24. @Yukon, the benefits for “playing it forward” benefit the person who passes it on, so yeah, there’s no obligation per se, but there is a reward mechanism for it. It’s an incentive based structure, not an obligation based one.

    Of course, the person passing it on only gets the benefit if the person they’re passing it on to actually validates the card, so that reward structure will predominently end up keeping the cards going to people that you personally know already. Handing one off to a stranger runs the risk of you not getting your reward points because you won’t know if they’ll ever activate it. Despite that, networking effects could end up with the cards traveling relatively long distances anyway.

  25. I think we’re operating from different definitions.

    Right. I’m talking philosophy.

    But the result arguably is more important than the motivation.

    I don’t think many scientists would agree. Results are important, but they are only a stepping stone toward understanding motivation. A series of results can indicate a pattern of behavior from which motivation is derived. Science isn’t just about observation; science is also about prediction. The marketer wants to understand why customers buy one product instead of another. The general wants to understand why an armies moved from the valley to the hill. While those examples are focused on competition, even cooperation calls for predictive models of behavior (e.g., what motivates volunteers, what motivates charitable giving.)

  26. western culture already has an underlying tendency to motivate people towards self-righteousness. it has a history of foisting it’s values, like christianity, liberalism and democracy, on the ‘ignorant’.

    What you’re talking about is called ethnocentrism. That’s worldwide, not western.

  27. @Yukon, Morgan: western culture

    I’m going to be pedantic here, since you guys started it :)

    statement: I am wearing pants.
    Does this imply that others are not wearing pants?

    whereas:
    “Altruism is a human tendency, not a Western one,”
    “ethnocentrism. That’s worldwide, not western.”

    These kind of imply that Westerners are neither altruistic or ethnocentric (or human or of the world), heh.

    I would like to submit that the specialization to ‘western culture’ was simply a humble attempt at not going beyond my reach of expertise…

    @Yukon: random kindness vs empathy

    The key here is the randomness. I’m ok with context sensitive kindness; holding doors, helping people involved in an accident, giving money to beggars, helping those who ask for help, etc.

    Imposing random kindness on random people is what I find mildly distasteful. And I find it distasteful exactly because humans are empathetic; kindness compels people to reciprocate, which is precisely why it is such a useful tool for scammers.

    By playing on a persons empathy like this in order to promote further goodness, one is implying that that person is quite literally ‘not good enough’ for you. I find this a little bit self righteous.

  28. These kind of imply that Westerners are neither altruistic or ethnocentric (or human or of the world), heh.

    I think the western-eastern characterization of people living in different locales is a bit nonsensical in this day and age when we know the world isn’t flat. This characterization is a UTism and probably shouldn’t be used in rational discourse.

  29. your pedantry outstrips mine. I shall concede my lack of rationality

  30. This is COMPLETELY off topic, horribly pedantic, and somewhat unnecessary, but what the heck:

    I disagree Morgan, it’s not just a characterization of people living in different locales. It’s also about cultural background, and that’s definitely relavent, and definitely different. Western refers to cultures that have Ancient Greece and Rome as their foundations. Eastern refers to cultures that were built on the various cultural streams that came out of Asia (which I won’t comment on, since I’m really not very well versed). Modern cultures carry all that baggage with them, and between the educational systems, history, and cultural indoctrination that occurs simply by living in a country, being from somewhere with a different cultural foundation does have an impact.

    I agree it’s easy to devolve into “Us vs Them”ism, and that should be avoided, but it’s similarly nonsensical to suggest that there aren’t distinct and varied cultural differences that significantly impact peoples’ world views between the Asian cultural streams and the Greek/Roman ones.

    That aside, altruism and ethnocentrism are universal enough to avoid this, so this is me being even more pedantic than either of you! :p

    That being said, lakdsjf, I’m not sure where you’re coming from in regard to Akoha, because the way the system is set up… giving a person one of the cards is more of a statement of trust (you need them to scan the card or you don’t get any reward points) rather than any sort of imposition on their part. They can throw the card away if they think it’s weird, and you certainly won’t be around to look down on them for doing so if it’s some random stranger.

    I also find your reasoning odd, because unless you’re scamming someone or performing the act with the deliberate intent to show that you’re better than they are – things that definitely do not have to be there for it to happen – you’re not playing on a person’s empathy at all… you’re doing something nice because it makes you both feel good. And there’s nothing particularly wrong with that. I don’t even quite understand how you get to the implication that the other person is “not good enough” for you either, since in this context it’s more that you trust them to be “good enough” or you wouldn’t be doing it at all! I’m stuck in a weird logical progression where the act of kindness, and the implicit trust involved, somehow implies that the recipent is in fact unworthy of the kindness and trust being given, which confuses me. It seems paradoxical.

    Unless the concern is that the person being kind thinks that the recipient is better than they really are? I honestly think that’s a relatively silly concern though, since that’s entirely in the recipient’s head; it’s not implied by the action, quite the contrary; some insecurity or cynicism in the recipient could twist it into that shape, but the action implies worth, not lack of it.

  31. And I find it distasteful exactly because humans are empathetic; kindness compels people to reciprocate, which is precisely why it is such a useful tool for scammers.

    Fear of being kind is harsh dharma.

    Here is your Karma Deficit Card: Don’t Leave Home.

  32. I apologize if I’ve derailed the discussion down a pedantic path… but the truth is that it wakes up parts of my brain that don’t get enough exercise :)

    Morgan: Science isn’t just about observation; science is also about prediction.

    Our predictions are always couched in probabilities, because we don’t live in a deterministic universe. If it were possible to understand an individual brain down to the subatomic level, we still would be unable to unerringly predict future behavior. Heisenberg intercedes at the particle level.

    That’s not to say that we can’t build predictive models with a high degree of statistical accuracy, but the more tightly we focus on a given individual within those statistics, the less certain our predictions become.

    By way of example (or perhaps a tangent to the tangent that gets us back closer to game design), some years back when Steve Jackson Games was working on GURPS Space, I was asked how to determine the maximum population a planet could support. I rattled off the formula to calculate the carrying capacity of a biosphere (this is the era when a session of Traveler might require a scientific calculator and a working knowledge of calculus). The question that came back was how to determine the values of the variables in the formula, and after some hemming and hawing, I had to admit that although we had a really cool formula to determine carrying capacity, we couldn’t accurately measure the variables that would make the formula useful.

    So yes, we can study, quantify and model altruism and even influence it to a statistically signficant extent. But there are always going to be variables in the equation that are pretty fuzzy.

    lakdsjf: Imposing random kindness on random people is what I find mildly distasteful.

    I think there’s a distinction to be made between kindness and pity. Pity is superficial; “I’m better than you so I will help you in order to ease my guilt and/or reinforce my superiority”. Kindness, at least to my mind, is founded in the belief that a man or woman scratching out a living on the streets is a fully-formed human being, no better or worse, no more or less deserving than your own friends and neighbors.

    Pity tosses a crust of bread to a man trapped in a pit. Kindness lowers a ladder.

  33. Western refers to cultures that have Ancient Greece and Rome as their foundations. Eastern refers to cultures that were built on the various cultural streams that came out of Asia (which I won’t comment on, since I’m really not very well versed).

    …foundations that originated in times when people believed the world was flat! (I also have a problem with the idea of a “cultural foundation” but I won’t get into that here.)

    I agree it’s easy to devolve into “Us vs Them”ism, and that should be avoided, but it’s similarly nonsensical to suggest that there aren’t distinct and varied cultural differences that significantly impact peoples’ world views between the Asian cultural streams and the Greek/Roman ones.

    An argument could also be made that the western-eastern characterization is egocentric, if not a UTism, as the individual referring to what’s “western” and what’s “eastern” is speaking from his/her point of view. That is, “what’s ‘western’ is anything west of me and what’s ‘eastern’ is anything east of me.”

    There was also no such suggestion that there is only one megaculture; although, you could re-term culture as “subculture” and subculture as “sub-subculture”, but that would get confusing quickly.

    There is, however, only one species of human currently. A doctor on one “side” of the world (spheres don’t have sides) can treat someone on the other “side” because our brains and bodies tend to work the same. Dr. Paul Ekman has even identified universal emotions whose expressions are also universal. (Ekman’s work is the basis of the TV series “Lie to Me”.)

    To characterize core human behaviors as either western or eastern, in the way that our anonymous friend did, divides people in an unnatural and misleading way.

    your pedantry outstrips mine. I shall concede my lack of rationality

    Critical thinking is not pedantry. Only those who do not think critically think otherwise.

  34. ease up guys. see here, this is the problem with moralizing with strangers. there just ain’t any context to judge where the other person is coming from. a person’s value system is by its very nature their most vulnerable part; treading lightly is a must. and that’s damn hard to do when you don’t know them and they don’t know you. are you seriously going to leave something like that up to pack of cards?

    if the cards had fun silly stuff to do, without a hint of moralizing, then I could see it being ok with strangers.

    An argument could also be made that the western-eastern characterization is egocentric,

    yup, now you’re getting it. If I’m going to take a shot at something to prove a point, I’m going to take a shot at myself.

    Critical thinking is not pedantry. Only those who do not think critically think otherwise.

    uncle! uncle!

  35. a thought to think about:

    when you do something kind for a person, who is the one most vulnerable?

  36. when you do something kind for a person, who is the one most vulnerable?

    Instead of playing the anonymous cynic, why not stand behind your words? It’s hard to take anyone seriously who hides from responsibility.

  37. lakdsjf, the cards do have fun silly stuff on them. That’s kinda the point. It’s like, Buy Coffee for a Friend. Send Someone Chocolates. Organize a TED watching party.

    There is about zero moralizing. So perhaps that’s why I’m so confused.

    Morgan, yes, orginiated when people believed the world was flat (though, that’s debatable in a sense, as I recall that some of the greeks seem to have thought it was a globe even then ;p), but that still have a more than minor role in current cultural trends. And my point wasn’t that you were suggesting such a megaculture, but that Eastern and Western actually have meaning beyond geographics – they’re shorthand to refer to the cultural streams out of Rome/Greece or Asia – and that those cultural streams are different enough to warrant labels. Humans being roughly the same biologically is mostly irrelevant; human culture is not nearly as identical across the globe as our bodies are, and it plays a significant enough role in our interactions with each other that ignoring its impact isn’t very wise. So, it’s not inherently wrong to highlight a cultural difference by using shorthand to do it. (As long as it’s actually a difference: see below)

    But yes, there are universal things about us too, which is why I said it was being very pedantic for me to bring it up; it didn’t actually affect the point you were making about altruism and ethnocentrism. It makes a difference about other things though, so rejecting the labels out of hand isn’t something I agree with.

    (Also, on the point of geography, not really. I live in America, so geographically, Asia is to my west and Europe is to my east. But the terms remain the same; Western is always Europe, Eastern is always Asia. The shorthand doesn’t have anything to do with geography, but rather cultural streams. And this is why history and culture courses use the terms.)

  38. Instead of playing the anonymous cynic, why not stand behind your words? It’s hard to take anyone seriously who hides from responsibility.

    Oh and Morgan, much as I disagree with lakdsjkf’s stance on this topic, that’s not really very useful for discussion. His point is still a point, regardless of whether or not you liked how he said it. That’s little more than an ad hominem attack. (And I’d submit that that particular rhetorical device doesn’t do what you’re accusing it of anyway.)

    To respond to the actual point; the answer is that there’s no particular vulnerability at all, in either party, because the person being kind requires nor demands nothing of the other person; their response is wholly up to them and the outcome of that response is irrelevant to the act of kindness. It’s already occured and cannot be taken back. If someone is feigning kindness, it’s a different scenario, but if the kindness is genuine, then no one can really suffer at all unless they take it upon themselves to do so.

    As an analogy: just because a paranoid person may think than even the people being nice to him are just trying to get close so they can hurt them, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be nice to people on the off chance they may be paranoid. That sort of response is irrational, and we shouldn’t change our behavior on account of it, not least because most people are relatively rational and they shouldn’t have to suffer our meaness on account of the few who aren’t. Similarly, because a few people may twist the intent of being kind doesn’t mean we should deny people who would appreciate that kindness the chance to do so.

  39. re: taking things less seriously

    I’ve been hoping that you would, yes.

    There is about zero moralizing.

    I’ve got nothing against the game. it seems mostly guided for friends, family and like-minded people anyway. I’m just noting the limits.

    as for moralizing, whenever you say that you want the world to be a better place, the follow up question is always going to be “what do you consider better”?

    what’s the reason people are distant and closed? why are the big city folk more like this then small city folk?

    It’s a defence. and the difference implies we apply only as much as we need.

    In the grand social network, if people bring down their firewalls could we connect more? If they turn off their virus scanners could we spread more love? would the world be a better place? perhaps, perhaps not.

    it might be nice to believe that we can just shift protection to the perimeter and take it off the host, but as you all so thouroughly noted already, where exactly is the perimeter?

  40. You know, I’d be interested in looking at statistics on whether big city folk are actually more distant and closed than small town folks. I’m not sure that that stereotype has any basis at all. You’ll certainly run into more types of people in a large city than you will in a small town, and observation bias becomes an issue, so I’m not willing to accept that that is in fact the case without actual evidence. (It may be perfectly true, and it sounds good, but there’s enough room for doubt that I’d want verification)

    Even if it is true that big city folk are more distant and closed, though, that doesn’t necessarily demonstrate that it’s because they’re defending themselves against anything other than sensory overload; if they cared there’d be too many people to care about, and they’d be forced to shut down. If this were the case, it wouldn’t be because other people are trying to hurt them, but because so many other people are in pain or in need that the empathetic feelings toward all of them would become overwhelming. Not saying this is necessarily the case, or that there’s not a mixture of the two, or something else entirely, but you need to control for the reason (if it happens) before making a comment using it as the basis.

    But I think you may be creating a false scenario that doesn’t need to be protected against, in any event. I don’t think that the natural defenses that we create to defend ourselves from emotional or physical harm actually have valid uses within the context we’re talking about; you don’t need to become more gullible or more open to harm to accept a random bit of kindness. And you can definitely filter what’s coming at you as safe or unsafe, so this isn’t an either or scenario either. Your firewall lets certain content pass through it that’s marked as legitimate. So you don’t want to turn these things off, but you don’t want to kill the network by blocking all traffic either. Balance in all things.

    And as long as we’re being respectful toward people’s individual freedoms and leave the responsibility of their growth in their own hands being kind to them can’t really hurt them, at all.

    (And as an aside, I would never posit that we should be striving to make the world a better place, but rather that we should be striving to make ourselves better people, and on an individual level. The world will tend to itself. Exceptions to that need to be made for necessary services and rule of law, because otherwise people start dying, but that’s an engineering issue in effect; even government is an engineering issue when you get down to it.)

  41. In the grand social network, if people bring down their firewalls could we connect more? If they turn off their virus scanners could we spread more love? would the world be a better place? perhaps, perhaps not.

    [insert obligatory reference to Neon Genesis Evangelion]

    You know, I’d be interested in looking at statistics on whether big city folk are actually more distant and closed than small town folks. I’m not sure that that stereotype has any basis at all.

    I think it’s a framing thing. The people who begin these comparisons aren’t “big city people”; they’re people who are used to the environment and social conditions of small towns. Naturally, you walk into a new environment, sense that it’s very different from what you’re used to, and you try to see what’s off about it. If you liked the place you came from, then you’re naturally going to conclude this new environment’s differences are flaws. It’s really an unremarkable culture clash.

    Every time I’ve visited a friend in a new city, they tell me, “The people in this city really are quite friendly,” and have no problems using the entire citizenry as a backup in case I get lost. Unfortunately, I never get lost, so I haven’t really been able to test out their exhortations.

    An Eskimo visits Africa, 2000 years ago. ZOMG YOU DONT WEAR CLOTHES!? *faint from heat exhaustion*

    but that’s an engineering issue in effect; even government is an engineering issue when you get down to it

    Everything is an engineering issue, when you get down to it. But also, hammer, nails.

  42. if they cared there’d be too many people to care about, and they’d be forced to shut down. If this were the case, it wouldn’t be because other people are trying to hurt them, but because so many other people are in pain or in need that the empathetic feelings toward all of them would become overwhelming.

    Security is security, regardless of whether it is protecting from malice, accidents, (misguided) benevolence or any other effects. What’s the difference if a person breaks down emotionally because of malice or because they become so empathetic towards everyone that they become overwhelmed?

    But I think you may be creating a false scenario that doesn’t need to be protected against

    Of course people already protect themselves. My intent was not to protect them, but to point out that those protection mechanisms are not bad, mean, or whatever. I figure there’d be a mix of people either ignoring, being happy, or being creeped out – my point is that there is nothing wrong with any of those reactions; and that you’d get more meaningful results dealing with people that you already know and care about.

  43. Hi Raph,

    Thanks for the notice of Akoha. Very interesting discussion here among your readers.

    One point that the debate about altruistic motives being attached to cards & an invitation to play-it-forward is the social benefits of giving in public.

    We based Akoha off a study of gift economies (Aboriginal, Whuffie, Wikipedia etc.) where the act of giving is done in public with social recognition that then goes onto inspire & create social status tied to giving rather then consumption. In a number of ways this is what has created social media. I see someone blogging for free, and all of a sudden it inspires me to say “I can do that…I have something to say”. I see someone blow up coke & mento’s on YouTube and I realize I could one up them and record my own video of Coke & Mento’s. Apply it to flickr, writing open source code, contributing knowledge to wikipedia. It’s all a public invitation to participate.

    Gift cultures build social status around those to gave well. It’s only been in judeo-christian religions that we are told that true giving must be anonymous and done with humility. I think this robs others of the chance to learn, be inspired & participate.

    Without the theory or social debate, we just want to make it more fun for people to connect & share social adventures in the real world :)

    Hope to connect with you at GDC.

    Thanks for all the comments folks.

  44. Check out… Raktrak.com

  45. It’s only been in judeo-christian religions that we are told that true giving must be anonymous and done with humility.

    Speaking as somebody operating outside the judeo-christian-islamic framework, I rather enjoy anonymous gifting. Done in a clever manner, it is reminiscent of the benevolent trickster ethos exemplified by Coyote; done without regard to self, it echos tenants of Zen Buddhism.

    I’m not knocking the “potlatch” approach to benevolence as status competition, and this is a smart and intriguing implementation. I’m just saying that the anonymous approach is just as valid and not specific to the Abrahamic religions.

  46. [...] is also a bit hard to define, but I like Raph’s definition of “a social game for kindness.” If you wanted to be more specific, you might also call it an alternate reality game backed [...]

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