Why do I want to study the video games ?0

Posted on octobre 20th, 2014 in En doctorat, LA MÈTIS

logo IrphilGraduate School of Philosophy (EA 4187)

Institute for Philosophical Research of Lyon


 Why do I want to study the video games?


My thesis is as follows : rationality is not limited to instrumental rationality (that’s the theory of the Frankfurt school of thought to rethink the place of reason in Europe after nazism). Humans have been facing uncertainty since the Antiquity. From Aristotle’s prudence to the Harvard Business School’s strategies, without forgetting Machiavelli’s boldness, we thought up behaviours to fight the unknown.

Nowadays we study intuitive decision making. I am reusing the American philosopher Polanyi’s concept of « tacit knowledge » (little known in Europe) and its analysis by the Japanese Nonaka (almost unheard of in France).

To renew the debate I am relying on the studies of French anthropology and notably the studies of Detienne and Vernant regarding the Greek mètis, the cunning intelligence (which is a sort of tacit knowledge, Polanyi would say). On this basis I am rebuilding classical problems ; how is science made ? (Latour), how to innovate ? (Amabile, Mock), how does tacit information spread ? etc. The world of video gaming is a great example to study innovation. March, an American, was working on innovation. After him the Frenchmen Parmentier and Mangematin have studied different video game studios. This is the first reason why I wish to study the processes. (Not official processes but the methods used on a daily basis).

– March J « Exploration and Exploitation in Organizational Learning », Organization Science vol2, n°1, 1991, p. 1-13

– Parmentier Guy and Mangematin Vincent, « Innovation et création dans le jeu vidéo » Comment concilier exploration et exploitation ? Revue française de gestion, 2009/1, n°191, p. 71-87

Then, I discovered that the Greek mètis is not taught explicitly but through stories (Americans would call it « storytelling »). I tried out these tactics to teach philosophy to my students by writing short stories, the goal of which was to carry ideas or information. The initiative appealed to the publishers. I won a prize in 2014 with such a short story.


We can teach ideas through books and I also think we can learn through video games. This is the second reason why I wish to study viedo games.

Finally I think that video games, and specifically procedural games such as rogue likes (Rogue Legacy, Out there, Crowntakers and so forth) will train students to learn to face uncertainty.

This is therefore a way to gain tacit knowledge. Third good reason to study the subject. (I still work as a narrative designer for a Studio.)



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