This article explores how video game rpg designers create engagement, and cause players to enter the state of Fiero or flow. Interestingly, it is very similar to Joseph Campbell’s concept of the hero’s journey which influenced Star Wars, among others.
Campbell explored mythic tales, and identified elements that caused them to be engaging, and memorable. The same elements are clearly present in the Marvel Universe movies, this continuity of universal truth which pushes a hero to ever greater feats, always on the border of his (or her) capacity, testing the limits of endurance. This makes me wonder what exactly these games and stories are exploiting in the human brain by using this kind of flow inducing element.
So, I posted about Fiero a few days ago. From the original article at kqed.org:
Fiero, according to researchers at the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Science Research at Stanford, is the emotion that first created the desire to leave the cave and conquer the world. It’s a craving for challenges that we can overcome, battles we can win, and dangers we can vanquish.
Scientist have recently documented that fiero is one of the most powerful neurochemical highs we can experience. It involves three different structures of the reward circuitry of the brain, including the mesocorticolimbic center, which is most typically associated with reward and addiction. Fiero is a rush unlike any other rush, and the more challenging the obstacle we overcome, the more intense the fiero.
Seems to me that are we teaching survival skills, showing how to overcome future challenges, and teaching ourselves that we can overcome obstacles, because our heroes do. By projecting our persona into the character, we begin to assume the mental state of the character, whether in a game, or a story. We enter Fiero as a way to press our brains into a learning/survival situation, and we begin to learn vicariously, as a means of ensuring future survival.
So, why is this cool in the context of security?
Imagine that we use tools that push the average user into the state of Fiero in order to deliver security awareness…
Lets use that autonomic learning mode to build better security. There is no real difference between a foul sorcerer in a Conan story, and an evil Hacker from the public view. They both use arcane arts to achieve their nefarious goals, from the viewpoint of the uninitiated. For the average service worker there is no great distinction between the access controls protecting their information, and the glorious gates protecting the golden dragon’s hoard.
The question becomes how do we glorify the defender? How do we send the Blue Team on the mythic journey, when the Blue Team always loses, and the conqueror is the traditional mythic hero? In other words, if we enter the state of fiero by braving the gates and defeating the dragon, can we create the opposite story with the same effect? Can we glorify the Dragon protecting the hoard, so that the average user identifies with the defender, and not the attacker?