"Science is the process of taking a huge amount of data, compressing it down into a very, very simple concise set of rules. In some sense, this is what epic gamers are doing; they're looking at the data as they play the game. And it's what scientists are doing as well. This is a scientist, Scott Diddums [see image on video] ~ he works at the Institute of Standards and Technology. Here he's actually doing experiments in quantum optical interactions and he's doing this to build a more accurate physics model of the way modern physics works.
"This is Timmy. He's a toddler at Carolina Day School; here he's playing with little toy magnets, looking at the way they interact. He's doing the exact same thing, though; he's using this to build a comprehensive world model in physics. It's an exact same process these two individuals are going through and its actually something that we're born into. I think its a more natural mode of interaction for us than story, which is something we learn a little bit later."
We do learn it later, and not just in life, but in the course of human history. For a hundred and fifty thousand years, the process that Timmy and Scott are going through is substantially built into our wiring; whereas story-telling is a technology developed much later on, after the invention of speech. And this is the point. Speech is an invention, by us. Investigation is a question of evolution: we developed it through mutation. Think about that a moment and I'll continue with Wright's lecture:
"You know very, very young kids will sit there, interact with the world, start building models through play. Games, really, in some sense as a game designer, what we're doing is we're trying to build a very concise set of rules that will create a very large set of possibilities for the player, especially the simulation games [speaking specifically of video games]. Now the player is interacting in this large simulation and in that they're trying to reverse engineer our rule set. They're actually building a mental-model of what they think is underneath the hood of that game ... Games are really just compilers for mental models that we want to put into the player, and depending on how we design that game we can direct what kind of model they're building."
Now take note: we're not wasting our time debating the importance of rules or what a simulation is, or fundamentally the principle that Wright is explaining. And because I have boundaries on the blog posts, we don't have to get bogged down with discussions about what "story" means or how important it is.
It is a pleasure to see the mechanics of game design described as a given and not as a subject of circular debate. Every game we play, video or otherwise, that is advanced by rational people, has strict rules that are imposed on the gamer in order to produce a specific game experience ~ and these games sell for fantastic prices and are played for hundreds upon hundreds of hours by the users. Every game, that is, except for role-play. Where arguments about the necessity of "rules" have destroyed any development. And where arguments about ill-conceived rule-notions, such as alignment, which can't be imposed properly without drastically curtailing the player agency that makes the game enjoyable, go on and on.
If you're still looking at role-playing sites for ideas or for direction on where to take your game, stop. Just stop. The content that you need is out there, but you have to ditch this RPG ghetto and go looking for it among people who know what they're talking about.