Gaming changes the way you think. Fact. But not in the bad, stabby, socially-maladjusted-exploder-of-prostitutes way that the mouth-breathing tabloids would have you believe. No, prolonged exposure to video games changes the way you think in cool ways. Like giving you the spatial awareness and control skill to be a better driver. Or imparting the stealthy environmental understanding to avoid your boss on Monday morning when you're still too tired to think.
And that got me pondering. There are bigger problems we could solve if everyone thought like us. There are everyday human issues large and small, personal and international, that would wink out of existence overnight if gaming logic was extrapolated to its nth degree. There are pains and grievances that we all too often accept as the way things simply are, when with a bit of applied gaming thought we'd never have to acknowledge them again. So I made a feature out of a few of them.
And this is that feature.
The current situation: Violent international conflicts happen all the time, usually spurred on by financial incentives, tactical global positioning, and good old fashioned murderous pride in the various lumps of rock we each happen to have been randomly born onto. Once they get going, no-one wants to back down, either due to the temptation of some sort of 'prize' or through the need to save face on the global stage. Sometimes they go on for years. They're horrible.
If everyone thought like a gamer: Nationalistic pride would work in a different way. The second that either side (or both) became worried that they might be out-gunned, they'd rage-quit for the sake of maintaining their all-important W/L ratio. Most wars would last only as long as it took for either side to get a bit antsy about their certainty of winning. ie. about five minutes. The slightest doubt, and they'd both be out of there. And from that point on, both countries would awkwardly disappear each and every time either saw the other side pop up in a server. Or an international summit or something, as the case would actually more likely be.
Abhorrent TV talent shows
The current situation: They exist. They are fuelled by stupidity, laziness and self-absorbed misappropriated ego. Legions of the intellectually challenged turn up to audition, convinced they're something special when in actual fact they sound like a foghorn going off inside a cow in a blender. Viewing figures are huge, but only in the same twisted schadenfreude way that Victorian asylum tours to laugh at the loonies were huge.
If everyone thought like a gamer: Any western RPG player knows how you achieve real success. You pick a direction that youre genuinely interested in or suited to, and you work away at it until you get good. Anyone who has ever completed a Skyrim skill tree will tell you that you don't just go up to a dragon at level 1 and expect to be able to kill it. The assumption that you're entitled to be good at something just because you want to be will only lead to immediate disappointment, followed by being pooed out by a giant lizard a couple of days later. Thus, if everyone thought like a gamer, the likes of The X-Factor and American Idol would be devoid of contestants. Or at least, there would only be a handful each year, and theyd all be boringly good and quite sensible. And so the shows would probably be cancelled due to lack of sensationalist nonsense.
Personal finance woes
The current situation: Unless you're super-rich, managing your money is hard. And if you are super-rich, presumably you're only really managing it in the same way that a hose-pipe connected to an ocean sea manages water, so no great boast for you there. No, the fact is that with a finite amount of money every month and a highly flexible, not-always-convenient list of potential expenses to cover out of that, things don't always add up. But they do often subtract. Between having somewhere to live, being able to feed and clothe oneself, and actually having a life and having fun, budgeting is often a task that people have serious trouble with, particularly if they're not terribly disciplined when it comes to asserting the correct savings/shiny things ratio.
If everyone thought like a gamer: Everyone would be ultra-thrifty. Seriously. No-one is more disciplined with their cash than a gamer (within a game world, anyway). Following the standard RPG-player behaviour pattern, purchases of any kind would be made rarely, and only after a very stringent, lengthy appraisal conducted to ensure that the considered item really is enough of an upgrade over the stuff the buyer already owns. And no-one would ever own more than one version of any particular thing at a time.
Thinking of buying a new pair of shoes? Will the pair you're looking at really make you run a great deal faster than your current one? Is the coat you're looking at really significantly warmer than the one you own now? Not just by one or two Warmth Points, but by at least 10? With a strict one in, one out policy on all purchases, hours of stringent in-store comparison before even considering a buy, not to mention the inherent obsessive-compulsive collection and hoarding of every bit of money ever spotted anywhere, right down to the tiniest denominations of coinage (and regardless of whether theres physically room in the wallet or not), people would live fairly Spartan lives, but would have stacks of spare cash in case of emergencies.
And that's before you even consider the fact that no-one would even bother buying food or booking a hotel unless it was a life-or-death situation.
The current situation: People go to bars. People get drunk. People kick the crap out of each other on the way home, having become mortally offended by some manner of hideous transgression. Like, you know the presence of another drunken human being, or the kind of brief accidental eye contact in the taxi queue that can only mean that one party has shagged another party's mum. And had a wee on their dad. A pleasant evening of drinks immediately turns into a mutual blind windmilling of limbs, until everyone concerned makes a 100% saving on their taxi fare by getting a free lift to Casualty in an ambulance instead.
If everyone thought like a gamer: Thinking like Street Fighter pros, everyone would know that the best form of attack is to defensively weigh up an opponent's actions and wait for an opening to exploit before acting. Thus, post-pub fights would just turn into two men blocking at each other for two hours until everyone gets bored and goes home.
The current situation: Keeping a house tidy is not easy. It shouldn't be too difficult, of course. You live somewhere, you have stuff in it, and the stuff is where it needs to be. Thats the insultingly simple theory. But in reality, you keep getting more stuff. And that stuff gets stacked alongside the stuff you already have. And sometimes you don't immediately have a proper spot for the new stuff when you get it home, so you leave it somewhere for a minute until you can get round to sorting it. But after a week of ignoring the new stuff and forgetting to sort it, you realise that nothing bad has happened as a result of you leaving it where it is, so you keep leaving it there. And when this occurs over the course of years of getting new stuff, clutter happens.
If everyone thought like a gamer: Between Tetris and the inventory screens of Resident Evil, every gamer has an almost supernatural instinct for efficient use of space in the cause of object tessellation. Applied to the home, this approach would create a living space arranged perhaps somewhat abstractly compared to the traditionally accepted variations of house layout were used to, but damn would there be a lot more room for a lot more things.
Given the obsessive gamer predilection for on-going second-to-second optimisation of inventory space just in case a rocket launcher turns up unannounced, new items large and small could usually be accommodated at any time with only the slightest rearrangement (though not actual rocket launchers, as they're probably illegal). Worst case scenario, a small item such as a side table or a cat must be thrown out of the window to make space for a troublesome new thing, but only if an hour of dense geometric experimentation has yielded no other solution. And that's no major hardship. Remember exactly where you've thrown that cat, and you can pick it right back up again once you've eaten something and cleared a bit of space in the fridge.
The current situation: Far too many people have no bloody manners whatsoever. Blame the parents. Blame laziness. Blame a self-absorbed culture of entitlement gestated in the fetid minds of the uncultured masses by the festering acrid ocean of TV-broadcast insta-fame generators and car-crash pseudo documentaries glorifying the vapid pseudo-lives of unremarkable idiots. But whatever the reason, too many people are just plain rude. And theres no excuse for it. If youre not polite, and you have no justifiable contextual reason for not being polite, then you are just a dick. And while being a dick might be a reason for impoliteness, it certainly is not an excuse.
If everyone thought like a gamer: Self-serving a reason as it may be, but the gamers inherent understanding of the power of speechcraft in the aim of getting preferential treatment would mean that everyone would be very, very charming to each other indeed. With an in-built knowledge of the ways in which politeness and flattery can lead to low shop prices, free swag and offers of help in any desired area (not to mention a distaste for the battle/bribery-related faff of doing things otherwise), everyone would default to the pleasant conversational approach for every single human interaction. Unless of course, people took the Intimidation path instead, in which case every conversation would become a mugging.
But as Peter Molyneux has said, barely anyone plays Fable as an arsehole their first time through, so were probably fine.