By David Silver – Social Media Games Divide; Rituals Unite

From Monetizing Social Neworks by David Silver. This book tells me how to make our online psych survivor community economically self-sustaining. — Corinna West

“In a capitalistic society, everything eventually becomes a derivative,” Karl Marx wrote in Das Kapital.

We have seen that in the financial market with credit default swaps. And heck, what is a share of common stock anyway?

Now, we see Farmville, a social media game, grossing an estimated $200 millian a year in revenues from the sale of synthetic currency used to buy tractors, goats, sheep, cows and chickens.  Yet social games like this are purposeless derivatives.

Social IMPACT games, on the other hand, have considerable utility.

Games Emerge from People When Leaders Fail

Why have social media games caught on right now?  Anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss wrote, after studying the games, and myths of tribal people in the Amazon and elsewhere 70 years ago that people invent games when a society’s myths become overbearing and difficult to swallow, and when government and business leaders try to coerce the people with their myths and rituals to cover-up their incompetence.  (The Wall Street Journal calls the current Congress “the worst ever”.)

Levi-Strauss wrote in The Savage Mind that myths begin with a conclusion – such as the Federal Reserve will protect the economy from egregrious behaviors by its banks — or General Mills’s mythical statement  that “Eating Cheerios Fights Heart Disease.”  Leaders try to sell these myths and rituals to the people through ceremony, ritual, repetition, and packaging.

Monopoly;  A Social Game from the Great Depression

Monopoly; A Social Game from the Great Depression

On the other hand, Levi-Strauss wrote, games begin with ideas and strategies of the people, and they play aggressively.  The conclusion is determined through competition, not by the leaders’ ultimatums. People love games because they built them themselves.  They require collaboration, andc discussion, and produce joy, sorrow, and celebratory events.

Our greatest and most long-lasting games – baseball, football, and basketball – started just after the Civil War, a time of great turmoil when myths and rituals did not hold the country together. Monopoly was invented during the Great Depression, and Scrabble during the McCarthy era of finding Communists under everyone’s beds.

Why High-Impact Social Media Games Are Emerging Now

Now, as we come through a period of financial meltdown, when the regulators, lenders, packagers, and insurers simultaneously and collectively sold the public myths and rituals that were stunningly untruthful, some amazing, high impact social media games are being built.  People are flocking to them in numbers not seen for any product or service in the history of economics.

Levi-Strauss is considered the father of the new model of social networks because they are modeled on primitive societies, are game-like in their structure, create contrast, require score-keeping, produce winners and losers, and give instant feedback. Here is an excerpt from The Savage Mind, circa 1962:

“Games [establish] a difference between individual players or teams where originally there was no indication of inequality. At the end of the game, they are distinguished into winners and losers. Ritual, on the other hand, is the exact inverse; it brings about a union (one might even say communion in this context) or an organic relation between the two initially separate groups.

In the case of games, the symmetry is pre-ordained and structural, since it follows from the principle that the rules are the same for both sides. Asymmetry is engendered; it follows inevitably from the contingent nature of events, due to intention, chance, or talent.

The reverse is true of ritual. There is an asymmetry, postulated in advance, between profane and sacred, faithful and officiating, dead and living, initiated and uninitiated, etc.

Today's social media games are more popular than any product in history

Today’s social media games are more popular than any product in history

The game makes all participant pass to the winning side by means of structured events,  Like science (both theoretical and practical), the game produces events by means of a structure; and we can therefore understand why competitive games should flourish in our industrial societies.

So this is saying that our game, our website, could destroy the myth of our country because our people all start equal, but some can excel by their own merit. And ritual is a structure that creates a chance where all people can find excellence or some standard of quality of life.

Do social media games and rituals have different roles in your life?

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