What is information? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Data. It’s all around us. When we open up the internet, we are bombarded with information. Nowadays, there is constant talk about fake news and no matter what political side one is one, everyone agrees that some news is fake news, whether you think it’s Fox or CNN. We all laughed at the old State Farm commercial that said you couldn’t put anything on the internet if it wasn’t true. We also all laugh at the idea that April 1st is the one day everyone checks everything before they share it on the internet.
Something interesting about information is that though it travels through material means most often, it itself is not material. If you read this blog, you do not take the information out of it in a way that no one else has access to that information. The information is expressed in the material form of a screen, but it is not that form.
This also gets us then into imagination. We can take the information we have and combine it in ways that do not really exist. In the gaming world, Pokemon is one of the best examples I can think of this. One takes multiple creatures and types together and combines them to form new creatures with new abilities.
When a new generation comes out, it is always asked what new creatures will be used this time that have not been used before. For instance, this last generation had a peacock, a flamingo, and a dolphin. With imagination, while we are making things that are new, we are still only taking existing ideas and combining those with other ideas to make new things.
Consider the idea of taking adjectives and combining them with nouns that they normally wouldn’t be used with and lo and behold, you get something that is new. For instance, what if we took the noun “cat” and combined it with the verb “purple”? We are not used to seeing purple cats. I certainly can’t think of any purple cats that exist.
Somehow, we make things that are in some sense real. They are not real in the world outside of our minds, but they still have some kind of reality to them. We can have a discussion about the nature of Superman all the while knowing that Superman doesn’t really exist. He is a figment of the imagination in one sense, but at the same time he is an icon and a “real” figure that we talk about.
As a Smallville fan, when I was at work and wanted a Halloween costume, I would wear a Smallville T-shirt and change my name badge to say “Clark Kent.” No one saw that and thought “What an interesting name.” Everyone who actually noticed it would recognize immediately that Clark Kent is Superman.
What has this to do with our game? All of our game like any other game is still information. When I boot up a console game at my home, there is information being displayed on my screen, often in a visual form, and I am using the information that existed in the imaginations of other people and seeing it given a quasi-reality on my screen. When I play a game like D&D, I have to rely on imagination to see how the story works and my companions do the same. It will be an odd game if I imagine a dragon while my companion imagines a goblin.
All of this will be relevant as we go on, but for now, let’s realize the role information plays in our lives.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)