Video Game Philosophy: Knowledge is Impossible?




In philosophical skepticism there is the belief that knowledge is impossible. How can that be? Well, because we can’t actually prove anything truly exists. We can see the world around us and interact with it, but we can’t actually prove without a doubt that any of this is real. What if we are simply a brain in a vat living in a simulated world for some alien species to examine? What if there is an evil demon fabricating an illusion of reality to deceive us from true reality? There's nothing that can be said against this theory to disprove its validity. There very well could be an unknown force deceiving our deceptions and skewing reality.

Skepticism often relies heavily on the immense difficulty of disproving theories. It is a lot easier to prove something exists than it is to disprove something's existence because what we do not know is infinitely greater than what we do, or even can know. A skeptic can make wild theories and take comfort knowing they do not need to prove it to be true; They just have to challenge non-skeptics to prove them wrong. You could say skeptics always have an advantage when arguing their view. The basis of skepticism is that knowledge is impossible, therefore, if you can not disprove the theory of an evil demon (or whatever your Matrix-esque simulated reality is) then a non-skeptic can not argue that it does not exist. Does this mean that it is true, that knowledge is impossible and we know nothing? I'd like to quell the anxiety one might feel if they think about this kind of subject too deeply with videya games!

What is knowledge? *cue Google search*

“facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.” 

(A skeptic would argue against this and point out that the dictionary is part of the illusion of "reality" and you can't use that against the skeptic's theory - but that actually makes it impossible to even begin a dialogue.)

Experience is the key word of this definition. Our whole world could very well be a "simulation", but we have no recollection of a world other than this one. This is it. Within this world there are facts, and there are rules that the world abides by. With 100% success rate, I can jump and know that a force we call “gravity” will cause me to fall back to the ground. Since I have not experienced a phenomenon that disproves this I can tie the concept of gravity to our concept of knowledge whether our world is a simulation or not.

A skeptic can then argue “How do you know that it is gravity pulling you in, and not something else like magnets, or invisible mutant zombie hands pulling you back to earth.” I am not a scientist, and while I could say “because that is what science tells us” I understand that an appeal to authority does not suffice as knowledge. However, I do have the knowledge, with 99.99% certainty, that if I jump or drop an object, it will fall back to earth. This I know because I have not experienced anything that disproves this otherwise. I am open to the possibility that one day I might jump and never come back to earth and that is where the .01% uncertainty comes in (maybe more like .00001%). I would opt to believe the 99.99% over the .01%, wouldn’t you? The skeptic, however, will get hung up on the .01% uncertainty and respond “A-HA! So you don’t truly know it then." I argue that I do know. I may only be 99.99% certain about the result of jumping, but that is only because it is impossible to predict the future. The past, however, has already been defined and I still have 100% success rate in being pulled back to Earth after jumping. Until proven otherwise, I can use my experiences to be quite confident about the result of jumping into the air. That confidence in the result based on experience is what we call “knowledge." The word knowledge and language itself is a product of the world we live in, and thus the very nature and meaning of the word pertains to the rules we have experienced in this world.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I can further prove that knowledge is indeed possible through a meta explanation using simulated worlds our readers are familiar with, Video Games! Although I can not disprove the existence of an evil demon, I can disprove the theory that knowledge is impossible by proving that in spite of the potential of a false reality, what we call knowledge is still in fact, possible. In any game you play, there are skills that we acquire through experience. If what we call knowledge was impossible then nobody would be able to play the games that they play. It would simply be impossible to make progress. You need to have an inherent memory of the inputs that match with the movements you can make in a game in order to play it, which you gain through experience. Video game knowledge is key to the success for casual and professional players alike. Knowledge ranges in different degrees and thus we have these skill gaps that make competitive play compelling to watch and be a part of. rLeague of Legends and other MOBAs are great examples of how these varying levels of knowledge can result in massive splits in skill level between players. MOBAs are a very knowledge intensive genre. To be successful you have to get tons of experience on the character’s skills, cool downs, range, damage outputs, match-ups and you translate that experience into knowledge that sets the professional players apart from the less knowledgeable players. Despite the fact that summoner’s rift is a fabrication, there is still a set of concrete rules and limitations that the program and players abide by. When you first pick up a game like this you probably have no idea what you're doing. Over time, you start to understand  the controls, the mechanics, and the different characters and you see a dramatic increase in your skill as a player. This is only possible because knowledge is real, even if the game isn't.


This explanation may not exactly provide a solid answer, but that's the skeptic's game. We can see, however, that if there was no ability to know things then we would simply cease to function. Every decision would be a risk and the fear of the consequences of every action would paralyze us. Knowledge keeps society stable and gives us the ability to progress. If it was impossible to know anything humanity would fall apart.
Next PostNewer Post Previous PostOlder Post Home

0 comments:

Post a Comment