What computer games do to our minds

It is obvious that people who play violent computer games do not, as a rule, go out and shoot people. This is not to say that such games may not be the final trigger that sends some people over the edge, but for most people they seem to remain in the realm of a game, separate from their daily lives. But I wonder if these games are still affecting their minds. That is, while they do not make the player consider going on a shooting spree, they do make the existence of war, terrorism and other forms of violence more feasible, by immersing the player in such a world. So when the player encounters real world stories of war, they seem like an obvious way to go about life. After all, the real world stories are still media feeds for most people most of the time. The ramification of this is that the very existence of terrorism and war is less likely to be challenged. Sure, we discuss whether a particular invasion is justified or not, but not whether violence itself even needs to be part of the global human community. Violence, as part of the public realm just seems “right” to minds used to playing (gaming) with these concepts.

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My final post

Having not posted for some months, I realise I’ve come to the end of my interest in writing about the process of promoting Psychology for a Better World and it is time for this blog to end. This is not to say I’ve come to the end of my interest in the book itself, just in case you were wondering!
The previous blog sums up most of feelings at this stage of the project. There are just two footnotes I’d like to add.
First, the book was not taken on by any of the publishers I contacted at the Frankfurt Fair, although two were very interested for a while, and a few others indicated they would like to see any future books. So I am glad I tried, because I feel I’ve opened the door (a crack) for my next book. My general impression is that publishers prefer a book that they can shape. A finished book, which is already widely available and has sold a reasonable number of copies is less appealing it seems. In fact a couple of publishers told me that my record of previous sales and downloads was a problem. It is also harder to sell a book from NZ into the US or the UK. All things being equal I suspect publishers prefer someone from their own country. It makes it all so much easier. Of course it is always hard to fully understand rejection and know what it is really about. It is probably rarely ruthlessly honest.
And… it is being translated into a European language which is incredibly exciting. I won’t say anymore at this point as I am not sure how much I should reveal. That actually, has become a complication with this blog – what exactly I should say when there may be deals in the offing.
So thank you to my followers and readers. If I start another blog, I’ll post again on this one, just in case you are interested. I wish you well in your lives and efforts to create a better world.

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One year in

Psychology for a Better World has been out for a year now. In that year I’ve had 10,199 website views, 5,354 downloads and 1,090 hard copy sales. My secret, well now not so secret, goal for sales and downloads is a combined total of 10,000. So I am over halfway. I’ve also been invited to give 61 talks. The film has been out for two months and has had 4,100 views (goal = 13,000 views for reasons that will remain obscure at this stage).

So some reflection is due. In many ways, the book has done better than I hoped. Certainly the number of talk invitations is well beyond what I had imagined. I think I had vague ideas of a speaking tour, by bus perhaps. Instead I’ve simply accepted offers to talk and organised extra talks in any location to make the most of each trip. Despite my aspirations to travel by bus, I have flown everywhere except Hamilton, 2 hours drive south. I have given four virtual talks and have one more planned. So far I haven’t charged any speaking fees, but for all talks outside of Auckland I’ve had my airfares and other expenses paid, including in some cases a requested donation to the Air New Zealand Environment Trust or to Tom and Mahrukh Stazyk’s tree planting project on land north-west of Auckland. Organisations often give me a book voucher, plant or some other small gift. They are very nice to receive, although I am quite sure they say more about the organisation than about my speaking ability.

Most of my sales have come through website orders. I’ve also made quite a few sales through other online sellers, particularly the library suppliers. I usually sell a lot of books at talks, although there is considerable variation that I haven’t quite figured out. If I am presenting to a single organisation, no one buys a book and I’ve given up indicating I have them to sell. The biggest sales come from public talks organised by a community group or from invited presentations to practitioners in a certain field. Sometimes about half the people in the audience buy a hard copy. Academic groups don’t buy so many, perhaps because they spend their lives on computers and so the e-copy is fine with them.

The most interesting and encouraging part of the whole process has been the feedback from readers and people at my talks. It has been overwhelming and humbling how many people have emailed or talked with me about what they have got out of the book. Endorsement of their current practice, inspiration, relief at hearing someone say it is OK to be positive and to focus on what you can do rather than on all the problems. Sometimes I feel as if people have got more out of it than I put in. Maybe that is the way if you manage to write something that hits on some of the feelings floating around in the zeitgeist.

If I didn’t totally believe in the book I would not have put so much in over the last year. I feel deeply tired, but I am also obsessed with reading for my next book that will try to understand why so many of us are drawn to sustainability as a way of life, thinking and connection. More than anything this year’s experience has given me courage to talk at the values and feeling level. Not in a creepy way (aka encounter group style), but in a way that I hope comes across as authentic. I am just as able as anyone to analyse away “authentic” feelings, but I burn with a sense that life could be different – better – and that it will take a growing unity of people with values, vision and the courage to state what they feel (not think) is right to make it happen.

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Yesterday we posted a trailer for the book and film on YouTube. Made by the gifted Graeme Bibby and Charlotte Blythe.

It is just 1 minute 30 seconds long, so a super quick introduction to the core ideas. Soon I’ll be able to sum it all up in just one word or image, I’ll let you know when that happens.

Book or film?

The Youtube film has been out for just over one month with 3,300 views. By comparison, one month after the release of the book there had been 1,500 views of the website and 730 downloads of the pdf. It took two and a half months to get the same number of website views that the film has had in a month, and five months to get the same number of downloads. What is different? Well, the book got major publicity via Kim Hill, which the film hasn’t had, but on just about every other front the film has had it easy:

  1. Charlotte and I emailed everyone who bought or showed interest in the book the link to the film, so there was a ready audience
  2. Because of the networks I’ve developed though the book, many people posted the link to the film on Facebook or another website and some have included it in electronic newsletters
  3. A film is tempting, quick, instant processing. A book is intriguing perhaps, but also work, requiring a higher threshold of interest

I’ve had two invitations to be a keynote speaker at international conferences this month, one in Brisbane and one in Florida. My first ever such invitations. I don’t think it is a coincidence these came after the release of the film. I think having the film come out ten months after the book is good timing.  It is a big enough gap for me to let everyone know the ideas are available in a different medium, but not so far distance that the whole thing seems last year.

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I will not be a person that doesn’t answer emails


When you reach out to a lot of people, with luck, you get a lot of responses.  Most of these come in the form of emails. I’ve heard hardened academics advise others to ignore most emails, using the principle that if the sender really needs you to respond he or she will email again. This may save a little time (or, to be precise it may save the receiver’s time), but it isn’t for me. An unanswered email nags at me, knowing the sender is waiting and wondering. If my fame spreads so far that I cannot manage incoming emails I’ll have to get a PA or stop reaching out until I can deal with what is coming back. Stern talk I know, but to ignore emails because you are too busy or they are too unimportant seems to me analogous to having a house full of stuff you can’t look after. Not how I want to live. So, email me, please. I’ll get back to you.

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500+ views in a week

I woke up this morning to find 595 views of the Psychology for a Better World short film on You Tube.   I confess I am not quite sure what this number represents. I may be personally responsible for about 20 of the views if my obsessive checking of the current hit rate adds to count. I’ve had lots of nice emails and one suggestion that while the film is magnificent (or words to that effect) it doesn’t actually encourage people to read the book. This is true, I suspect. The film highlights the ideas but I don’t nudge readers towards the more in-depth version the book offers until the very end. I wanted the film to spread the ideas and the “brand” rather than to draw people to the book per se. Having said that, I do want a new surge of sales and downloads as a result. We’ll see how it goes.

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