Wanted: One Paradigm Shift – Pt. 1

The term “paradigm shift” was first coined by Thomas Kuhn in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In it he described the method by which science conducts its “business.”

Think in terms of a hierarchy of ideas. At the bottom of the hierarchy is a hypothesis: a single proposition about reality. The hypothesis should be testable and subject to disconfirmation. The next step up is a theory: a larger, more abstract idea that generates a number of testable hypotheses. A paradigm is the next step up: it is the entire set of concepts and relationships that are assumed by a theory.

But new paradigms do not effortlessly replace old ones. There’s resistance from those who have invested time and effort in the old system.

This creates serious tension within the community. The old pros are telling everybody that the new scheme sucks, while the youngsters are praising it to the skies. How is this conflict resolved?

The process can be evolutionary.

The slow solution is for the oldsters to die out and be replaced by the youngsters. This kind of thing happens all the time, in just about every professional field. It’s part of the evolutionary process. Sometimes, though, it can take several generations, because not all the youngster embrace the new scheme, and so the process gets spread out over many decades.

Or revolutionary.

But sometimes the transition is much sharper and more intellectually violent. This happens when there’s an obvious and serious flaw in old system. When people believe that the old system is broken, then they’re much more willing to move on to a new system.

I think there are three questions need to be answered to move interactive storytelling forward.

  1. What is the current paradigm?
  2. Is it perceived to be broken?
  3. What’s the new paradigm?

You can read the original post in its entirety here.

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1 Response to Wanted: One Paradigm Shift – Pt. 1

  1. Alex Vostrov says:

    Well, I’m certainly curious to read Part 2, Chris.

    You can say that there’s already been a paradigm shift in the business practices – the return of smaller developers is proof of that. The big question is whether it’s permanent or cyclical. A lot of indies are worrying that they’ll get squeezed out of the market these days.

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