Licking Games and Controlling Behavior

I licked my first game cartridge last night. I know given the title you were probably hoping for something a little more salacious than that.  It tasted pretty bad, but I tried a second time just to be sure! 


Have you ever done something just because someone told you not to? What is it about denying people something that immediately draws their attention to it? 

In case you haven’t heard. Nintendo announced a week ago that it had coated its new cartridges with a bittering agent. They did it to keep kids from sticking it in their mouths. The end result? Thousands of people have been sticking them in their mouths.  

For some reason it’s human nature to be attracted to the forbidden. To be enticed by the  taboo. To be drawn to the verboten. 

So why is it religions continue to create rules about what we should wear, what we watch and what we do? Isn’t it counter productive to forbid the sin thus causing their patrons to desire it? 

I have a theory. Dopamine addiction. Religions do this because it keeps people coming to church. Stick with me for a second on this. 

When we undergo stress, our body releases all sorts of chemicals. It helps us cope with that stress. Follow that high up with a calm period and it’s a pleasant overall result. Game designers have understood this is a great way to make games super popular. You can’t make the game too easy or it’s totally boring and no one will play it. Or to put the concept in religious terms: 

“A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary [to lead] unto life and salvation.” –  Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, p. 58.

Make up a bunch of fake rules (no whacking it to porn!!), get people to join your imaginary world and try to win in that world. Kind of makes it obvious that religion is the oldest RPG game we’ve ever come up with.  

Social media i.e. Facebook from this perspective is sort of an augmented reality game where we get high on the conflict of who has the coolest vacation post. Or who wins the latest argument in a debate. It’s all about the conflict and the need to resolve it. 

The best way to create conflict? Try to control behavior. Implement rules that have to be followed or you lose! But don’t permanently kick them out of the game if they fail. Allow them to respawn/repent and start over.  

Maybe the real reasons religions are losing adherents at the highest rate in human history has nothing to do with reasonable rational thought prevailing… Maybe thier UI sucks and it isn’t keeping up with other options we now have for imaginary worlds to live in.  

My point? I don’t really have one this post. Just some random thoughts to chew on that fit a pretty awesome clickbait (lickbait??!!) title. I gotta run now, no more time for pontification. There is an idiot on Reddit that needs to understand how wrong he is. 

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