Bryan Caplan  

Gaming on EconLog: A History of Nerddom

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Today I'm taking my twins to their first GenCon, the world's biggest gaming convention.  In honor of this glorious day, here are my top gaming related EconLog posts.

1. The Secret of Good Games

2. The Sociology of RPGs

3. The Social Science of German Gaming

4. Fun Time

5. Why GenCon Should Be Tax-Deductible

6. Deception, Detection, and Democracy at GenCon

7. Role-Playing Games: Behind Their Time

8. The Weird Reason to Have More Kids

9. A Black Gamer Speaks

10. Surveying on the Cheap

My favorite gaming-related post, though, is this pre-EconLog guest piece for Marginal Revolution: Nerd Pride.

P.S. If you see me at GenCon, please say hi. :-)


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COMMENTS (3 to date)
guthrie writes:

I won't be there, but if you can, check out my friend 'The Great Luke Ski' who performs parody rap (and is a nice guy in general!). This is his 19th GenCon appearance. You also may want to check out Water Street Bridge, if you prefer a more folk/steampunk style of music. Have fun!

Jeremey Arnold writes:

This is why I already miss living in Indianapolis... Have a great time for all of us nerds who can't make it!

Philo writes:

{I want to leave a comment on Bryan Caplan's *next* post; but there seems not to be any way of doing that. So I'll leave it here.}

“If coercing people for their own good will in fact makes them happier, you're for it - across the board, and down the line.” I presume you mean, happier *in the long run*, rather than in the short run. Then you ought to be sensitive to the fact that letting people decide for themselves tends to build character, in the form of habits of self-reliance, and also provides people with information about themselves, both of which factors enable them to make better self-regarding decisions in the future, and so contribute to their future well-being.

Of course, even in the short run most people like to feel more rather than less in control of their own lives; being bossed around usually creates negative affect.

How about those who prefer to be told what to do—how do they fare in a free society? Not to worry: they can voluntarily attach themselves to some guru, individual or organizational. Those who prefer that *other people* behave a certain way may have to accept disappointment, but this preference is seldom a *very strong* one; and these people would probably be disappointed under a truly paternalistic government, since the way they want other people to behave is seldom the way that would really be best for these other people, and so is *not* the way the government would force people to behave.

Living under a micro-managing paternalistic government would be better for a few people, namely for those who haven’t enough sense to make decisions for themselves and who are unable or disinclined to put themselves voluntarily under the guidance of a suitable guru. But it would be worse for the great mass of adults. For children it is usually better to use their parents as the paternalists, if only to take advantage of the parents’ greater local knowledge. (In practice the parents’ motivation is usually better, too; but here we are assuming that I am the government and I am purely a good guy.)

If I were a utilitarian with absolute political power, I wouldn’t bother banning smoking, or any such small-scale stuff. I would be primarily concerned with the political set-up: if a non-utilitarian replaced me in the dictator’s chair the result might be disastrous for the general happiness. I would focus on trying to get the people to establish political institutions that would effectively promote happiness in the long run. But what specific steps would I take? That’s too tough a question: building a political structure from scratch is too great a challenge for me.

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