As those of you who attended the 2006 pre-conference workshop that Allan Combs and I led may recall, I have some reservations about the field of Systems Thinking (Systems Science). They have to do with the implicit assumption that the embodied reality of our experience can be modeled, and that meaningful knowledge will come from manipulating or working with such models. I’m not so sure.
I came across a related caveat in an article in the September 2006 Harpers, about education and video games. The topic for the forum was how to use video games to further education. Here is the exchange that interested me, and on which I would welcome comment:
Zengotita: I see how students could learn to write analytically, deeply, about the systems of rules that are embedded in video games, rules that appear in the game to be the way the world actually works. But when the players go out into the real world, I think there’s a real danger . . . of failing to understand not just the complexity of the real world but also its mystery . . .
Koster: I call it gamist thinking, and I strongly agree with you . . . To bring solely a gamist perspective to the world is a really big mistake. But of course this perspective predates video games. It harkens back to behaviorist psychology, and a variety of unsavory political movements as well.
Zengotita: It’s systems-based thinking, model-based thinking. I can’t claim that Donald Rumsfeld or Robert McNamara were products of a video-game education. But they show all the symptoms of it.