Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Read this: A game designer breaks down QAnon's absurd, terrifying popularity

Illustration for article titled Read this: A game designer breaks down QAnons absurd, terrifying popularity
Photo: Olivier Touron/AFP (Getty Images)

While Donald Trump getting his ass handed to him in the election has eroded some QAnon supporters’ steadfast belief in their Dear Leader’s crusade to rid America of its shadowy cabal of Satanic pedophile Democrats, chances are, if they’ve already bought into that premise, it’s gonna take a lot more to fully dissuade them once and for all. Q’s “claims” are so ridiculous, complex, and unhinged that it often boggles the average reader’s mind, which understandably leads one to ponder, “Just how has this become a thing at all?”

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As game designer and director of the Curiouser Institute, Reed Berkowitz, recently wrote in an essay on Medium, the answer may come from some genuinely eerie psychological underpinnings. Berkowitz studies augmented reality games (or ARGs), which are “stories and games that can start on a computer, and finish in the real world. Fictions designed to feel as real as possible.” Often, one of the chief motivators within ARGs is what’s known as apophenia, which is the mind’s eagerness to find patterns and connections in the world, even when there are none. While sane and/or moral game designers often try to avoid relying on this, Berkowitz argues the people behind Q are knowingly weaponizing it.

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“Here apophenia is the point of everything,” Berkowitz writes. “There are no scripted plots. There are no puzzles to solve created by game designers. There are no solutions.”

He then goes on to explain that QAnon’s “puppet masters” have, since the beginning, intentionally led believers on wild goose chases, which these supporters then retroactively connect their own dots to reinforce their belief systems. Berkowitz’s lengthy essay is worth reading in its entirety, but long story short: QAnon’s authors, whoever they may really be, are a bunch of dicks. Ingenious dicks. But dicks, nonetheless.

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[via BoingBoing]

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Andrew Paul is a contributing writer with work recently featured by NBC Think, GQ, Slate, Rolling Stone, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency. He writes the newsletter, (((Echo Chamber))).

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