"We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about." - Charles Kingsley

Ludotopian - "The belief that through games the world can become a better place."1

Ludotopian space development has perhaps already happened, in the form of the Space Race?. In 1966, Konrad Lorenz wrote:2

"The most important function of sport lies in furnishing a healthy safety valve for that most indispensable and, at the same time, most dangerous form of aggression [:...] collective militant enthusiasm. The Olympic Games are virtually the only occasion when the anthem of one nation can be played without arousing any hostility against another. This is so because the sportman's dedication to the international social norms of his sport, to the ideals of chivalry and fair play, are equal to any national enthusiasm. The team spirit inherent in all international sport gives scope to a number of truly valuable patterns of social behavior which are essentially motivated by aggression and which, in all probability, have evolved under the selection pressure of tribal warfare at the very dawn of culture. The noble warrior's typical virtues, such as his readiness to sacrifice himself in the service of a common cause, disciplined submission to the rank order of the group, mutual aid in the face of deadly danger, and above all, a superlatively strong bond of friendship between men, were obviously indispensable if a small tribe [...] was to survive in competition with others. All these virtues are still desirable in modern man and still command our intuitive respect [....But] there is no situation in which all these virtues shine so brilliantly as they do in war, a fact which is dangerously liable to convince quite excellent but naive people that war, after all, cannot be the absolutely abhorrent thing it really is.
"Fortunately there are other ways in which [these] virtues can be cultivated. The harder and more dangerous forms of sport, particularly those demanding the working together of larger groups, such as mountain climbing, diving, off-shore and ocean sailing, but also other dangerous undertakings, like polar expeditions and, above all, the exploration of space, all give scope for militant enthusiasm, allowing nations to fight each other in hard and dangerous competition without engendering national or political hatred. On the contrary, I am convinced that of all the people on the two sides of the [Iron] curtain the space pilots are the least likely to hate each other. Like the late Erich von Holst, I believe that the tremendous and otherwise not quite explicable public interest in space flight arises from the subconscious realization that it helps to preserve peace. May it continue to do so!"

Lorenz also wrote that such competitions promote trust among people who'd never otherwise meet, and that they help forge a common cause (if only the "cause" of agreeing on rules.) In space, this was prophetic: After the Soviet Union disintegrated, building ISS with Russian cooperation was defended as a way to help keep Russian rocket scientists from drifting into the employ of arms proliferators. But it also brought the "space pilots" together, more closely and for much longer than ever before.

Social networks? can be fun, but they don't get the job done. Project Persephone must rely largely on volunteer contributions of effort. The Project will be more sustainable if volunteering is more fun. The right kinds of competition -- "gamifying" Project efforts -- can help make contributing more enjoyable. Endless seriousnessness is not an option - endured too long, it's only a recipe for stress and strife.



1 "Ludotopian", by Ren Reynolds, at the Terranova blog, Feb 27, 2009

2 On Aggression, Konrad Lorenz, 1966


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