Have you ever heard about some controversial psychological experiences which, in some way, got out of hand? It’s not so hard to find some examples. In a quick search you can find rapidly something like this.
Psychology has fought for a long time to be considered a science. Since science generally requires proof by experimentation, and not only an hypothesis, it’s easy to understand why these experiments happened at all, despite all the controversy. I am not saying that I agree with these experiments, but I do understand the need felt by the investigators to put them in place. These experiments should be done nevertheless, but not in this way. They must be created inside a controlled environment, in a way that the test subjects don’t suffer harsh long term consequences.
We are now able to consider some relatively new technologies or philosophies that have developed considerably in the most recent years. With these novelties we are able to consider alternative methods to study the mind. We are able to gather much more information and even create simulations where the test subjects are virtual representations of the person. Avatars if you must.
Gamification can be used in a way to study people’s behaviour regarding some stimulus inserted in the experience.
A lot of information can be gathered from the perspective of the individual user, according to their specific characteristics, but even more important is the sociological data that can be attained that way. Do you want to study how seriously the world is considering the consumption of healthy food, the reduction of salt and sugar on foods? Well, you can consider a cooking game where you observe the recipes chosen by the larger majority of people. Do you need another example? How about a gamification experience (not really important about what) in which at certain point you offer a reward to the players so they have to sabotage the game of other players. From this point on you can study the limits of corruption in modern society.
Another way of studying the mind is with serious games. This way you can engage in experiments that have their setting in a virtual world and where all the rules can be controlled (assuming that all exploits are prevented) by the investigator.
This way the consequences can be controlled and, at the same time, the investigator has the possibility of creating scenarios that probably would just not be possible to accomplish in the real world.
For example, if you wanted to create a study about the reaction of different people from different nationalities to the recent Ebola virus outbreak. It would probably be much easier and more secure to have an online game where these people from different countries would have avatars in the game and their objective would be to stay alive (just like in survival games) , but then they would be exposed to virtual entities infected with the Ebola virus. That way you could study their reaction without real consequences.
Earlier this year we had the opportunity to talk with Edwin Fennema from Sightes, a Dutch company that works with transreality. While we were talking, Edwin come up with something we had never heard about before: Mind Files.
After he explained to us what was it all about, we were just dumbfounded. It is a very interesting subject and with a concept so simple that we could not believe how we didn’t thought about that before, or at least how could we haven’t heard about that before.
Mind files are nothing more, nothing less, than a virtual representation of the person’s mind. OK, it’s far from being easy to attain, it needs a lot of work, but the idea of that being possible is outstanding.
Can you imagine all the possibilities? The number of studies and simulations that we could create. Conflicts that could be avoided by studying simulations. You could even rent your avatar for market analysis studies that would become very precise. When forming a team, everything could be simulated to prevent future conflicts between team members. Well, the possibilities are endless.
Just think about it!