I’ve almost finished playing through, for the 5th time or so, the game Far Cry 2. It’s set in a wartorn African country, and is incredibly immersive to play.
Like a number of other recent games, it includes a weapon degradation system. That is, weapons wear out when used. It happens much more quickly than in real life, but the aim is partly to model reality.
The other part of the aim is to force the player to buy new weapons, which adds challenges of finding the money and also means having to travel to a weapon shop.
It adds an extra level of challenge to the game, and while it’s frustrating sometimes, I think they’ve made the right call. While having unlimited resources in a game (and there may well be cheats that allow it to happen, but I haven’t looked) might seem like fun initially, in the end it’s just tedious. There ends up not being any struggle, any challenge… any reason to play.
Thinking it through, the same may well apply economically.
This is not an argument for poverty, please don’t misunderstand me. I definitely believe everyone should have access to the necessities of life. I don’t believe that others’ poverty is necessary to give meaning to my relative wealth.
But having something to work for and strive for is part of what makes life meaningful.
Here’s the tricky bit, but also the freeing bit: we need to realise that the scarcities are largely artificial, and the system requires them.
It means technology can never deliver a want-free utopia, since it’s not a real problem of scarcity but an artificial one.
But when we realise this, it means we have more control than we thought we did, both of what we want (or think we need) and of the rules of the game.
It means there are ways, or ought to be, of working toward ensuring that the necessities of life are available to all.
Makes me think about the promise of heaven, too. Would an eternity with no scarcity be something to be desired?