Gaming as Complex Contagion

edited July 2010 in Story Games
A disease is a "simple contagion". It can be caught by means of a single exposure to a single source, but multiple sources and exposures 'help'.

Contrariwise, many social phenomena are "complex contagions". To catch one requires exposure to multiple *sources*. Multiple exposures help, but multiple sources are the key.

Cool?

Okay.

So, I say to you that the act of gaming primarily acts as a complex contagion, while the act of selling games is treated (as are almost all things in the market) as a simple contagion. This means that marketing and one-on-one action may produce buyers and collectors, but demonstrations, ongoing games, conventions, geek gatherings, and the like - those produce players.

I give you a reference here, from the American Journal of Sociology:

ftp://hive.soc.cornell.edu/mwm14/webpage/WLT.pdf

Be aware that said reference starts easy, but also includes modeling of such stuff, and a lot of discussion on the kinds of ties over which things spread - short ties or long, strong or weak, and so on.

And I ask you this:

If this is true, what else is true?

Comments

  • Isn't this true about any hobby wherein people do something (rather than chiefly make something, as in crafts)?
  • Posted By: misubaIsn't this true about any hobby wherein people do something (rather than chieflymakesomething, as in crafts)?
    I think it very well could be, but I have far less experience to babble from.
  • Oh, bollocks. You could argue anything was a contagion. Chocolate. Lip gloss. NLP.
  • RyRy
    edited July 2010
    At this level of abstraction there's not enough specific rules or observations about contagion that we can bring back to RPGs.
  • I would love to catch a severe case of chocolate. And exposing myself to a potential case of lip gloss would probably be swell too.

    Maybe it can be argued that anything could be a contagion. That doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't something useful to be learned from looking at a subject through the lens of a contagion model.
  • Posted By: GrahamOh, bollocks. You could argue anything was a contagion. Chocolate. Lip gloss. NLP.
    So, the best way to get more people into chocolate is to host a social gathering with lots of chocolate eaters, normalising the idea of chocolate, and then invite them to eat some chocolate with you?

    Because, hey, maybe. I mean, I'm under the impression that chocolate was already fully normalised and generally eaten anywhere I'm likely to go. But if I go to an un-chocolated place, that might be true.
  • edited July 2010
    Posted By: GrahamOh, bollocks. You could argue anything was a contagion. Chocolate. Lip gloss. NLP.
    You could argue that, but that isn't what Levi is saying.

    What he is saying, sort of, is that if you make the argument that everything is contagion, gaming is a different kind of contagion than, say, chocolate or lip gloss.

    This feels totally true to me. I can individually make the decision to eat chocolate or buy lip gloss (I prefer CoverGirl Wetslicks, btw). I can even individually make the decision to buy a game. But I really can't individually make the decision to play that game. I need others to be "infected" that agree to play with me.

    As for the assertion that, to infect those others, there must be an additional source, I'm not so sure. They could easily be infected by me. (Unless, the source that infected me is considered one source for the players and I am another, but that's not what I think "multiple sources" means. I assume the "multiple source" idea is that the players must get infected by both me and something else.)
  • Posted By: Wordman I assume the "multiple source" idea is that the players must get infected by both me and something else.)
    Yes, and no. The idea is that most people would require multiple sources. Everyone has a different threshold - how many of your friends need to ask you to come out to a basketball game before you give it a go?

    I say that almost all current gamers are the people with low thresholds.
  • It seems to imply that games have a network value, which depends on, say, the number of players squared, rather than merely the number of players.

    It may also imply that the best possible thing that can happen to your game is to have some kid cite it as the reason he went crazy and murdered a bunch of people.
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