Here's a followup... one of the questions is... "what really is important?" and "important to whom?"
At many points in my life, I've only been able to find motivated engagement in video games... despite being interested in something more. A key thing a game, or engaging story/film/show/situation provides, is a "motivational context" -- even school provides this to some extent, but it's usually not based on things relevant to life... what it takes is passion, or "flow"...
I like this quote from Peter Thiel: "“I think we need both more optimism and more pessimism. We need pessimism that things can go wrong, so you need to be scared that things could be worse, and you need more optimism that things could be better and that the future could be a lot better. And, if you have neither optimism nor pessimism, and you think things are just going to be the same, and nothing is ever going to change, there is much less point in acting. So I think we need to do everything we can do to tell more of an optimistic and more of a pessimistic story at the same time. It’s a little bit inconsistent, but I think that’s a critical thing to motivating things and that’s certainly critical on the health side -- individually, and society-wide.” (Singularity Summit, 2011)
Richard Saul Wurman - On Passion
"At 45 years of age, I had nothing. I was literally destitute. Except, I still had curiosity, I wanted to do good work, and I had ambition, which I don't have now... I had ambition to do good work. To work at doing good work..." (Wurman coined the term 'information architecture' & founded the TED (technology, entertainment, design) conferences.)
TEDxKC - Michael Wesch - From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able
"A good question is something that leads people on a quest... and if you pay attention to the questions that students are asking in this [college] environment, they turn out to be questions like 'how many points is this worth?' 'what do you we need to know for the test?' -- and it's not like this group is lazy and disengaged [see American Idol auditions [or video games]]... so, something's gone wrong here..."
The Writer's Journey and Mythic Structure with Christopher Vogler
"How this all began, was on a quest, really, that I was on as a young person. I'm a farm boy from Missouri, and I had no real film background, but I was fascinated. The movies caused me to vibrate to certain energies that I found there, and I found them really exciting and wanted to be part of it, but I didn't know what those unwritten rules were, about storytelling. I knew there had to be something. So, on my quest, I ended up at USC at the film school there, and I encountered a book called The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and there it was, the answer to what I was looking for -- the unwritten rules, the sort of super-outline that all stories appear to be connected by. And, my self-assigned job was to translate Campbell's academic language, his mythological examples into modern examples from classic movies and current films, and turn that into a kind of a report on what I had discovered. And, that eventually grew into The Writer's Journey, because I discovered the same things I was going through as a writer were being experienced by the heroes in the great adventures. So, the adventure is also going on for the writer, as well as the hero. This broke down in Campbell's work, which I borrowed from heavily, into 12 stages, that I seem to find in almost every story I've worked with. And, these are: The Ordinary World, in which the hero is discovered in his or her ordinary environment, maybe a comfortable place for them, but something's there, a seed of change for what has to be. There will be a Call to Adventure where the hero is told there's something they have to do, they have to undertake some challenge. The usually respond with Refusal of the Call, they don't want to go into the adventure for one reason or another. That's overcome by meeting with some sort of mentor who guides them and gives them the Magical Equipment they'll need, and that allows them to Cross the First Threshold into this new world -- special world where most stories take place. There, they will meet tests and allies and enemies that will train them, and prepare them, they might go through a stage of approach as they prepare to enter the inner most cave that's at the center of every story. In that cave, they'll have an Ordeal, stage eight, where they'll be facing their greatest fears, and they'll be transformed by that terrible ordeal. Then, there's a period of reward, where they get a sort of the payoff for having faced their fears, then there's a stage called The Road Back, where they turn around and begin to complete the adventure, and commit to finishing it with some new twists. And then, next to last stage is the resurrection where the hero will, once again, be challenged once more on all the levels, and also transformed by that, redeemed, and resurrected, and finally, Return with the Elixir, where the hero will return to the ordinary world..."
I've looked at a number of points in my life for parallels to that hero's journey concept... but it's often seemed to fall flat. Lately I've found more meaning in it, even though though I think the concept of "hero" is a little cliche'd -- been using http://tvtropes.org
as a point of reference for making sense of scenes and interactions in my life and that I see going on in the world. One of the most important concepts is that of http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Ma...evelopment
-- the concept that in life, as in stories based on it, one can grow, become something greater, become more one's self -- and that's part of what happiness or fulfillment takes, even though it can be a convoluted path.
Too often people fall prey to seeing life as suffering, or mundane, or get absorbed in cynicism. I've had to dig through so much absorbed cynicism from other people... and of my own making... yet being excessively "idealistic" can also be a challenge. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Tr...usCynicism
is an interesting way to think about that. Even on different days or at different times, there are different ways to look at things.
One of the biggest challenges is how to organize information and knowledge and prompts in a way that encourages going beyond existing memes and conversations. As Michael Wesch puts it, "media mediate conversations -- when the media change, the conversations change" -- this is also true of the way people conceptualize situations and life in general... and by thinking of life itself as open to multiple paths forward, and as consisting of more than dystopia, it can start to become a lot more interesting. The question is how to package that up like game designers do.