It's kind of long, but I think it's well worth the read. The highlights:
- Humans are empathic creatures. We evolved in a social environment, and we need that social interaction to feel happy and complete.
- Empathy is declining. With the rise of technology, we are getting our social interaction more through our phones and computers than face-to-face, and this is reducing our ability to be empathic.
- Empathy is important. The article suggests some ideas on how to improve your sense of empathy.
You may be wondering why I'm talking about social issues in a blog about games. There are two reasons:
- I believe strongly in the importance of equality for all people. I've been on the short end of the social power stick before, and I know how much it sucks to feel like that; to feel like you're not wanted, you're not accepted, you have no worth and no value, and the world would not care at all if you just didn't exist. I am aware that I had it so much better than many other people; I was not a minority (ethnically, gender-wise, religiously, etc). If I felt that badly being excluded, how must others feel in worse settings? So I feel it is important to work to end bigotry, discrimination, and exclusion.
- Games can help in improving empathy.
I talked about social issues a little bit back in my post about social bias in gaming. And this topic ties in very strongly with that. Direct physical in-person interaction will lead to a greater understanding of other people's points of view even more surely than playing different genders, orientations, ethnicities, etc. Especially when you're playing with people of different genders, orientations, ethnicities, etc.
This is a timely issue for me, as the Loot and XP board game cafe is set to open here in just a couple of weeks. Soon, people from around the city and even all over the central area of my current home state will be able to come together to play games with one another in a friendly, relaxed setting.
Sorry for the digression. Obvious plug is obvious.
Anyway, my point is this: playing games makes the world a better place, as long as you're doing it in a way that promotes empathy (which means stupid debates like gamergate are harmful to the end goal of improving the world; don't do it). So go play more games.
Really. Play more games.
And with that, I bid you