01- Project Outlines

The Myth of Rationality

Did you notice how world around you became so addictive? From games on your phone, to social networks you have to check 20 times a day. And then you have to (something about work) It feels like your whole life is a game, or more precisely a skinner box. It’s like everything out there is trying to test your will, to break you and let you act on your impulses.

But you fight back most of the time. You have a free will, you are the one making the decisions. Or maybe you just tell that to yourself to feel better. You rationalize your irrational behaviour. Maybe all those skinner boxes know you better than you know yourself. You are an animal in a cage an your instincts have been tricked.

But how did we end up in this point? For the most part of our modern history, we thought of people as enlightened, intelligent individuals, we were in the age of reason. And then the two world wars came and right after that we invented devices that could destroy everything with a push of a button. 

This is where the story of The Operant starts. In a small insignificant university lab, birthplace of behavioral psychology. 

So what is it about again? 

It’s a mobile story-driven puzzle game. You are a young  behavioral scientist, making experiments on lab mice. As you progress through the game, you will witness  this obscure research field gain notoriety and interest from the private sector. You will accept, or deny research funding from questionable enterprises and see what effect your discoveries have on the world around you and yourself. 

Based on the true story!

Well, not quite. Characters and  most of the storyline are fictional, most of the experiments, however, will stay true to the real ones. Also, the main protagonist is loosely based on the father of behaviorism, B.F. Skinner. Skinner believed that behavioral psychology would revolutionize the way people learn and, as expressed in his utopian novel “Walden Two” it could potentially completely restructure the whole society. 

Skinner wrote Walden Two in 1948, Right at the start of the golden age of social utopias. This is where the story of The Operant begins. As the story unfolds, however,  this utopian visions are contrasted with the very real dangers we are facing today, like what happens when the power of conditioning behaviour is taken from the scientists and put in the hands of  intelligence agencies, corporations and cyber armies? How can democracy survive when a big-data companies knows you better than you know yourself? And do you even have a free will at that point?

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