Michael Toyama

Test Lead, Her Interactive
Sammamish, WA, United States

About Michael

An idea worth spreading

Complexity - it's growing and multiplying as we chaotically place layers upon layers of systems atop each other. Knowledge diminishes as the level of complexity increases. How do we replace the power of knowledge in the hands of the many?

I'm passionate about

Solving difficult, complex problems that need to be solved.

People don't know I'm good at

Tray surfing - getting a food tray and using it to ride large waves.

Comments & conversations

90457
Michael Toyama
Posted over 4 years ago
We spend 3 billion hours a week as a planet playing videogames. Is it worth it? How could it be MORE worth it?
I acknowledge your anecdotes as real and applicable to the argument, but can we really say that these MMORPGs enrich the lives for all of those who play? I would imagine you could find anecdotes of MMORPGs ruining a person's life - what do we say about those stories? We really need a lot more data to describe the impact on a larger scale. And then, as Adam points out, we need to analyze these data as a piece of a larger whole.
90457
Michael Toyama
Posted over 4 years ago
Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world
I like your point about manipulation and leadership. The line between them is quite blurry, isn't it? The danger I see in utilizing video games for "good" causes is this: the designers of the games are essentially puppeteers whose ideas of morality govern the ultimate real-world contributions of the players of their games. Since you're using such powerfully motivating techniques to move players toward the end goal, the players have a diminished capacity to question the reasoning supporting the morality of the end goal. True, what I'm describing can be seen as a microcosm of how leadership dynamics work in real life. I tried to think of differences between video game "manipulation" and leadership and I couldn't think of many - deliberateness and levels of automaticity would be greater in the video games, maybe. But in our world, we have many competing ways of approaching problems. You can choose one, then back off if you change your mind. Fixation in a video game may not allow this.
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Michael Toyama
Posted over 4 years ago
Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world
I find this comment a little ironic. Ender was manipulated, against his will, to help win a war. I like the idea Jane proposes - but what's the cost of its implementation? You'd essentially be manipulating people to achieve a common goal. What if the people designing and engineering the game are wrong? What if the goal isn't for the best of mankind? Do we make a game where people seek out the truth behind the goals of games which incentivize the achievement of a "common good"?
90457
Michael Toyama
Posted over 4 years ago
Birke Baehr: What's wrong with our food system
I've taken a couple classes centering around child psychology. One of my professors, a child psychologist herself, described how experiments by child psychologists consistently prove that children are a lot smarter than we think they are. I don't find this surprising at all. Despite what I've mentioned about child psychology, I still wonder whether or not he was coached. I do believe he's got the capacities to make these arguments and understand the evidence supporting them, but did he come to these conclusions himself?
90457
Michael Toyama
Posted over 4 years ago
Eric Berlow: Simplifying complexity
This works if you can a. break down the complexity into a network of nodes and if b. those nodes correctly summarize the reality of the situation. The likelihood of a. depends on the problem and b. depends on the (in)visibility of the components within the problem, if you're able to break it down as such. You risk framing the situation too narrowly, i.e., you will become fixated on the issues within the scope of your diagram and miss items that, hmm, you missed when you made the diagram. That can be a pretty destructive way to comprehend a problem... although it looks like an effective tool if used properly.
90457
Michael Toyama
Posted over 4 years ago
Emily Pilloton: Teaching design for change
Wow, I wish my costly, well funded suburban education had some of the qualities Emily is developing in Bertie County. I think the applicability of these ideas extend far beyond the underfunded public education systems in impoverished rural communities. The "high caliber" schools I attended keep their students in such an impenetrable bubble of "education," it blocks the kids from getting out into their community.
90457
Michael Toyama
Posted over 4 years ago
Jessica Jackley: Poverty, money -- and love
Good for you, Thomas. Just realize that Africa isn't some sort of safari for you to "experience." I think the general attitude toward Africa (let's go save Africa!!!!!!!) tends to see it this way. Also, it's great to do good, but you must be critical along the way. Don't just take up a cause blindly. I've known about Kiva for a long time. I just hadn't been able to find much information on the logistics behind the loans. I mean, it sounds brilliant, but does it really work? Is there anyone actually researching the end result? What if I'm causing more harm than good? Doing "good" blindly can lead to a huge, huge mess.
90457
Michael Toyama
Posted over 4 years ago
Jessica Jackley: Poverty, money -- and love
I'm not sure that we'll see this, nor do I think people would donate if they did see that sign, at least in the US. People in our country tend to ignore (or not understand) that primarily structural factors perpetuate poverty here. This is somewhat demonstrated by the high prevalence of fundamental attribution error - the tendency to blame the individual (see: the culture of poverty) for their situation and ignore the circumstances (see: structural violence). Structural factors and the fundamental attribution error would lead to widespread aversion toward lending to the homeless. This may be a generalization, but I think there are a lot of people out there who simply would not believe that a homeless person "has what it takes" to succeed.