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Wed Nov 18, 2020, 12:44 PM

A Game Designer's Analysis Of QAnon

I am a game designer with experience in a very small niche. I create and research games designed to be played in reality. I’ve worked in Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), LARPs, experience fiction, interactive theater, and “serious games”. Stories and games that can start on a computer, and finish in the real world. Fictions designed to feel as real as possible. Games that teach you. Puzzles that come to life all around the players. Games where the deeper you dig, the more you find. Games with rabbit holes that invite you into wonderland and entice you through the looking glass.

When I saw QAnon, I knew exactly what it was and what it was doing. I had seen it before. I had almost built it before. It was gaming’s evil twin. A game that plays people.

...........................................

QAnon grows on the wild misinterpretation of random data, presented in a suggestive fashion in a milieu designed to help the users come to the intended misunderstanding. Maybe “guided apophenia” is a better phrase. Guided because the puppet masters are directly involved in hinting about the desired conclusions. They have pre-seeded the conclusions. They are constantly getting the player lost by pointing out unrelated random events and creating a meaning for them that fits the propaganda message Q is delivering.

There is no reality here. No actual solution in the real world. Instead, this is a breadcrumb trail AWAY from reality. Away from actual solutions and towards a dangerous psychological rush. It works very well because when you “figure it out yourself” you own it. You experience the thrill of discovery, the excitement of the rabbit hole, the acceptance of a community that loves and respects you. Because you were convinced to “connect the dots yourself” you can see the absolute logic of it. This is the conclusion you arrived at. More about this later.

Everyone on the board agrees with you because it’s highly likely they were the ones that pointed it out to you just for that purpose.


https://medium.com/curiouserinstitute/a-game-designers-analysis-of-qanon-580972548be5

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Arrow 38 replies Author Time Post
Reply A Game Designer's Analysis Of QAnon (Original post)
ehrnst Nov 18 OP
chia Nov 18 #1
MartyTheGreek Nov 18 #2
rwsanders Nov 19 #9
MartyTheGreek Nov 19 #10
Hav Nov 20 #27
TygrBright Nov 18 #3
Bernardo de La Paz Nov 19 #14
Initech Nov 18 #4
BlancheSplanchnik Nov 20 #33
0rganism Nov 18 #5
Withywindle Nov 19 #16
catrose Nov 19 #21
WyattKansas Nov 18 #6
CloudWatcher Nov 19 #18
Karadeniz Nov 19 #19
Blue Owl Nov 18 #7
Hortensis Nov 18 #8
plimsoll Nov 20 #28
Hortensis Nov 20 #30
plimsoll Nov 20 #31
Hortensis Nov 20 #32
Locrian Nov 19 #11
Major Nikon Nov 19 #12
SergeStorms Nov 19 #13
burrowowl Nov 19 #15
Celerity Nov 19 #17
niyad Nov 19 #20
KY_EnviroGuy Nov 19 #22
Hermit-The-Prog Nov 19 #23
Upthevibe Nov 19 #24
Solly Mack Nov 20 #25
Squinch Nov 20 #26
FakeNoose Nov 20 #29
BlancheSplanchnik Nov 20 #34
NoRoadUntravelled Nov 20 #35
Dark n Stormy Knight Saturday #36
CatLady78 Sunday #37
CatLady78 Sunday #38

Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Wed Nov 18, 2020, 12:56 PM

1. "A game that plays people."

Five words and done. That's it EXACTLY.

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Wed Nov 18, 2020, 01:15 PM

2. A Hacker and a Game Designer Get Together in St Petersburg...

Thanks for your description on how games are designed. I recall that when the rusky hackers got ahold of Podesta's emails they inserted pedophile code words combined with Pizza words to make it look like there was this secret cabal of Dems eating babies and all that BS. Some of the code words were pulled from an FBI manual to make it look legit.

When I first got on this very thread in 2017, it had me believing that this could be true. As weeks went on I really thought that I was on to something but then, one of the images that Q displayed to show that Hollywood was in on it, showed a fake body (you think it's real) laid out on a table, with kids tied to chairs watching the adults eat from the body and supposedly this is when the kids realized they were next to be eaten.

No Shit! They showed terrified kids tied to chairs as if they were watching all of this! The Hollywood producers of those picture scenes, came out and stated that they were images from a B rated horror movie or something and were not real! If I had not read that follow-up story, I don't know how far down the Rabbit Hole I would have gone!

Footnote: I was heavily medicated back then on PTSD meds and that didn't help much but only added to the paranoia. I'm off the shrink meds now and things are, should I say much clearer!

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Response to MartyTheGreek (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 19, 2020, 11:17 AM

9. Since you are ditching the meds and mentioned PTSD, I just wondered if you were aware that

the Sierra Club and the American Sailing Association (as well as various individual sailing clubs) have developed programs specifically to help with PTSD that are usually attended and hosted by veterans. Participants have said that the comradery and the outdoors have been very beneficial.

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Response to rwsanders (Reply #9)

Thu Nov 19, 2020, 11:31 AM

10. Thank you! I'm gonna check that out! n/t

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Response to MartyTheGreek (Reply #2)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 06:24 AM

27. Good and frightening story

It shows to what lengths they go for their propaganda and that it took them being caught in a blatant lie to snap out of it. Many still believe it despite all the contradictions instead of admitting they got duped.

I know people, relatives included, who bought into this pizza gate nonsense which is so obviously an internet fabrication without any basis in reality (no victims, no whistleblowers, no witnesses). But it was still impossible to break through to the people I talked with. Anything that questions a conspiracy theory only strengthens their belief that this is just part of the conspiracy (for example, asking why law enforcement involved).

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Wed Nov 18, 2020, 01:17 PM

3. Very long article but very much worth reading in full. n/t

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Response to TygrBright (Reply #3)

Thu Nov 19, 2020, 03:21 PM

14. Yes, worthwhile read, very good. Much too long for trumpanzees to handle. . . . nt

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Wed Nov 18, 2020, 01:19 PM

4. In Trump's America, game plays you!

/Yakov Smirnov

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Response to Initech (Reply #4)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 09:26 PM

33. 👏🏽 😆

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Wed Nov 18, 2020, 02:26 PM

5. creating a stand-alone complex



important passage from the article:

"Love, civilization, honor, good/evil, religion, money, etc. What is real and what is a fiction that we have created and agreed to live as if they existed? Maybe you don’t believe your religion is a fiction, but what about everyone else’s? Are they all equally real?"

this is not going to get easier for humans as deep fake technology improves and becomes highly accessible. we have a big epistemological problem and it's about to get much much bigger.

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Response to 0rganism (Reply #5)

Thu Nov 19, 2020, 03:39 PM

16. Reminds me of this Terry Pratchett quote

The character who speaks in ALL CAPS is Death, btw.

"All right," said Susan, "I'm not stupid. You're saying humans need...fantasies to make life bearable."

NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

"Tooth fairies? Hogfathers?"

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

"So we can believe the big ones?"

YES. JUSTICE. DUTY. MERCY. THAT SORT OF THING.

"They're not the same at all!"

REALLY? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET YOU ACT, LIKE THERE WAS SOME SORT OF RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

"Yes. But people have got to believe that or what's the point?"

MY POINT EXACTLY.

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Response to Withywindle (Reply #16)

Thu Nov 19, 2020, 06:19 PM

21. Yes, near the annual rereading of The Hogfather, to skewer all Christmas traditions & get to this

For a good fictional exploration of Alternate Reality Games, try Walter Jon Williams' This Is Not A Game.

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Wed Nov 18, 2020, 02:37 PM

6. Unfortunately a lot of America has been living in an alternate reality for years with privatization

And commercialism of everything. If you examine what Republican politicians have been spewing lately, it seems like a bunch of nonsense copied from a bunch of alternate reality and science fiction movies. And Americans have been gobbling it all up like gospel. In the real world though, further decay and destruction await the American People under Republican policies, because no Super Hero is going to save them at the last minute.

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Response to WyattKansas (Reply #6)

Thu Nov 19, 2020, 03:50 PM

18. Alternate realities

And this angry atheist wonders what would happen if our schools all taught logic and critical thinking and people started to notice that they've been lied to by all the churches and states and corporations? There are a lot of vested interests in maintaining our shared alternate reality.

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Response to CloudWatcher (Reply #18)

Thu Nov 19, 2020, 04:47 PM

19. Actually, I wish they would teach all the research that's been done on Mind.

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Wed Nov 18, 2020, 02:42 PM

7. And the prizes are extra stupid

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Wed Nov 18, 2020, 03:11 PM

8. Those sucked in typically insist they found the hidden truths of evil

atrocities on a global scale by intense, careful "research." And the "deeper" they dig, the more it's all confirmed. One way and another.

"In most ARG-like games apophenia is the plague of designers and players, sometimes leading participants to wander further and further away from the plot and causing designers to scramble to get them back or (better yet) incorporate their ideas." ..." Here apophenia is the point of everything. Anon grows on the wild misinterpretation of random data, presented in a suggestive fashion in a milieu designed to help the users come to the intended misunderstanding."


Another major difference between QAnon and an actual game, is that Q is almost pure propaganda. That IS the sole purpose of this. It’s not advertising a product, it’s not for fun, and it’s not an art project. There is no doubt about the political nature of the propaganda either. From ancient tropes about Jews and Democrats eating babies (blood-libel re-booted) to anti-science hysteria, this is all the solid reliable stuff of authoritarianism. This is the internet’s re-purposing of hatred’s oldest hits. The messaging is spot on. The “drops” implanted in an aspic of anti-Semitic, misogynist, and grotesque posts on posting boards that, indeed, have been implicated in many of the things the fake conspiracy is supposed to be guilty of!

Qanon is also operating in conjunction with many other initiatives as documented by other sources and other developers. The coordination is consistent.

The link suggests patterns implicate some of the coordinating initiatives, including Russia. And, of course, in this scenario there is no "Q."

Fascinating. Thanks, Ehrnst.

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #8)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 02:28 PM

28. It's a series of some of the oldest tropes against your enemies known.

The Carthaginians were supposed to sacrifice and eat their children.
The Gnostics were supposed to sacrifice and eat children.
The Albigensians, the Catharsis, it seems to be a storyline that can be repurposed for any new enemy.

I keep coming back to the fact that “Q” has a pretty heavily Christian bent. I know the story line is that it’s a defense official, but that’s DOE badging, not DOD. More importantly in New Testament research Q is the name given the shared source material for Mathew and Luke. It’s just too cozy, especially when you understand that Q is short for the German word quelle, or source. It seems to scream hoax.

You can go on and on, but the author is correct this is an ARG, and the participants don’t know they’re hooked. On the other hand it is advertising and profit driven. Moving enough players to make perverted real world decisions will help secure money, power and prestige for the game developers.

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Response to plimsoll (Reply #28)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 02:46 PM

30. Yes. Just too cozy. I didn't realize that about "source."

Whoever started this for whatever reason, though, I figure there's zero chance foreign states looking to destabilize ours are not involved now. Need not interfere with profiteering. Russia's, of course, found cyber warfare focused on stirring up the worst in whole populations be both extremely inexpensive and world-shakingly effective.

And there's no chance state-level professionals wouldn't harness the giant forces of religious fervors and fears. Or of common cognitive weaknesses, left and right wing extremism, and bigotries and outright hatreds. Whoever's in this, they're working them all.

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #30)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 04:49 PM

31. Agreed, but those foreign states will profit.

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Response to plimsoll (Reply #31)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 04:50 PM

32. Yes. Their gains so far have been far beyond computation.

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Thu Nov 19, 2020, 11:54 AM

11. very good article thanks -nt

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Thu Nov 19, 2020, 12:31 PM

12. The difference is gamers know they are entering a manufactured reality world

I'm convinced there's just a certain percentage of the population who are completely gullible to ideas most people would consider straight up nonsense. This situation isn't entirely limited by political affiliation as you'll find all sorts of people right here on DU who have been heavily invested in anti-vax, crop circles, chemtrails, 9-11 truthers, and all sorts of other nutbaggery. And while these people aren't Qanon adherents they do often share traits of belief in a deep-state like conspiracy of a shadow government working in secret for nefarious purposes. As far as Qanon goes, most of those "true believers" I've ran into are also heavily invested in other forms of crackpottery, including the aforementioned.

The solution to these problems is always the same. When nutbaggery is offered, you counter it with reason and ridicule and eventually the nutbags are marginalized at least until they find a new shiny object.

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Thu Nov 19, 2020, 02:13 PM

13. An alternate reality that you create.

"There is no reality here. No actual solution in the real world. Instead, this is a breadcrumb trail AWAY from reality. Away from actual solutions and towards a dangerous psychological rush. It works very well because when you “figure it out yourself” you own it."

Sounds exactly like QAnon to me. We already know these people like to be lied to because they're republicans. Take it one step further and you have QAnon.

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Thu Nov 19, 2020, 03:30 PM

15. A game that plays people

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Thu Nov 19, 2020, 03:42 PM

17. K & R

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Thu Nov 19, 2020, 05:53 PM

20. KNR and bookmarking.

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Thu Nov 19, 2020, 07:00 PM

22. Russia and others are using the internet to drive the U.S.A. collectively mad....

and those of us that stay away from that shit will be mad in time just from being around it.

Stop and think about the psychological impact on us from:

a.) Republican behavior in those around us and their politicians, RW media and preachers,
b.) social media flooded with non-stop bullshit,
c.) our public media being whipsawed every day with their lies and bullshit and
d.) severely degraded person-to-person communications that we humans need, now stripped of emotional and rational content.

It seems that anytime something good comes along that might benefit humanity (e.g., the internet, smartphones and drugs), our dark, greedy side uses and abuses it until it turns on us and works to destroy us.

KY

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Thu Nov 19, 2020, 08:37 PM

23. Stir in racism, wealth disparity, Putin, GOP, Fascist Oligarch eXtremists and you have MAGAts.

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Thu Nov 19, 2020, 11:54 PM

24. ehrnst....

Thank you for this post. I read the thread and sent it to a friend's daughter who's mom, (my friend and for now my former friend) is in the QAnon Cult.

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 04:58 AM

25. K&R

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 05:58 AM

26. Fascinating analysis. We should be able to use this against them.

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 02:43 PM

29. Recommended - enjoyable reading

Thanks for posting!


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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 09:40 PM

34. Brilliant analysis. Fascinating. Thanks!

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 10:57 PM

35. This is fascinating. nt

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 01:43 PM

36. Fascinating and fabulous article!

Bookmarked it when you posted it and finally had a chance to read it.

I'm tempted to share it widely, but even among my most literate friends, I'm not sure anyone would have the patience to read it. I was very motivated to and look how long it took me to finally do it. There used to be an app that summarized articles. I might try to find that, as least to offer as a way in.

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Sun Nov 22, 2020, 04:22 AM

37. I don't understand the appeal of conspiracy theories

Last edited Sun Nov 22, 2020, 05:16 AM - Edit history (3)

The banality of evil makes more sense in every way.
Visit the average factory farm (that most people accept a normal part of life)....

No tortured and moronic conspiracies needed to see the casual crassness and evil that humans are capable of..But then most qanons probably think libtards are out to wrest their cheeseburgers from their hands (in between sessions of child molesting presumably)...

Or if you are one of the dominion theology types who think a compassionate view of non-human life is offensive to god (and presumably that animal intelligence and sentience are of course bs as is evolution), we have those Chinese sweatshops run by Apple where they had to net the place off to keep workers from committing suicide...

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/18/foxconn-life-death-forbidden-city-longhua-suicide-apple-iphone-brian-merchant-one-device-extract


Very real stories real torments inflicted on the living. But far less colorful than the bat-shit crazy drivel qs believe.

It also has something to do with the kind of mental inflexibility that makes people impervious to facts that don't line up with their worldviews. Obviously, I am personally delighted when Stanford say, is in the news for rapes, sexual harassment, Dr. Atlas, sexism etc. But I do have to grudgingly accept that those turds do world class science as well. That Facebook abd Google, while being trashy and tacky overall, do make some real contributions to cs.

Our rationality is to some extent determined by our willingness to acknowledge unpalatable facts about ourselves or those we like and to see positives (when real) in those whom we are inclined to dislike. I don't mean the drivel cryptocons like Jonathan Haidt or Fox News pass off as balance but the real thing....
Rationality is what distinguishes dislikeable but essentially sane people from the divorced from reality contingent...

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Response to ehrnst (Original post)

Sun Nov 22, 2020, 02:17 PM

38. Bookmarking for a response

I had a few notes to add to this...mostly for why own journal. I wish DU had a scratch-pad journal blog option that would be closed to comments and recs so people could put together unselfconscious, non oped like theses synthesizing ideas that they think might be of relevance.

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