What is learning?


My personal definition is the following:

Learning is the memorization of relationships between things in a context, enabling us to simulate things in our minds to generate predictable behavior.

When we learn, we enable ourselves to not only observe, but imagine how something works in our minds. We imagine and play with how different scenarios unfold through a model in our heads.  These mental models are our minds best guesses about how things work based on our previous experience and observations of how things worked in the past.

There are two fundamental ways to learn things:

Analytical / Dissectional

  • What does it contain?
  • What is it made of?
  • What is its sub parts?

Systemic / Relational

  • What is it connected to?
  • How is it affected by other things?
  • How does it affect other things?
  • How is it different from other things?


I’ve talked about Black boxes briefly in an earlier post. But if you are unfamiliar I’ll describe it briefly: A Black box is a mental model about something with only systemic / relational information. What makes the box “Black” is that it’s content is not observed.


There are 4 stages of human learning:

  • Stage 1“Unconscious” Incompetence.
    • This is when you don’t know what it is you don’t know.
    • This is practically what creates the Dunning Kruger effect.
    • In relation with the term black box, this is equivalent of not knowing about a certain Black box.
  • Stage 2Conscious Incompetence.
    • This is when you know that there is something specific that you can’t understand or can’t do.
    • Example: “Oh people can solve Rubik’s cube. But I can’t.”
    • In relation with the term Black box, this is equivalent of noticing or identifying a certain Black box.
  • Stage 3Conscious Competence.
    • This is when you are able to understand or do something, but it requires your full attention.
    • Example: “I can solve Rubik’s cube when focusing with a lot of effort and with help from instructions.”
    • In relation with the term Black box, this is equivalent of being aware of the inner workings of a Black box.
  • Stage 4Unconscious Competence.
    • This is when you are able to understand or do something without having to think about it consciously.
    • “I don’t have to think about what I do to solve Rubik’s cube.”
    • This is equivalent of knowing a black box by heart. In the book theory of fun this would be refereed to as grokking.



The two fundamentals of psychology:

Association and dissociation

The brain is a pattern matching machine. When we are repeatedly presented with a pattern we starts to see what relates and what doesn’t. This is what, in psychology terms, is called association and dissociation.


There is a rather common heuristic used within the field of psychology that brain cells “that fire together wire together.” The meaning of that statement is that, as learners, we put meaning onto things that occur together in the same context or time. The classical psychological experiments by Pavlov showed how stimuli that is presented together “associates”. What this means is that meaning itself is transferred to the things that something is presented together with. The most famous example is Pavlov’s bell, that for his dogs got so associated with food that the dogs started to drool simply from hearing the sound of the bell.


Dissociation is created when we observe that something no longer happens within a context. It is when we learn that we thought was true really isn’t or that maybe it is more nuanced than it first seemed.

Dissociation is also when we choose not to acknowledge things. It is the brains way of filtering out the information that is not relevant in the current context. When we are really focused on something our minds keeps track of and associates things within a specific context, but tries to ignore and dissociate everything else. Dissociation is the brain’s way of creating relevancy.

Learning as a reader


Information is more commonly formatted for the writer and not for the reader. What might seem logical and educational from the writers perspective, usually either lacks the right contexts to be useful for the reader or repeats information for the reader that they already know.

If it is too wordy it gets boring, but if it contains conclusions without it being evident how, the information is hard to follow.

Diagram of the balance between challenge and skill level and how it corresponds to different emotions.

Making something informative is a constant balance between introducing new information, and presenting the new information in relation to information that the reader already knows.

An exploration of what time is

Definition of time from Wikipedia:

Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future.”

Linearity of time (from order to chaos)

Time as a whole (containing all of space) is apparently irreversible. That means, it seems that change can not ever form reality to exactly the same shape as it has ever been before, ever. The present, even though it can be similar to past events, appears to always be in some way different from all time that has ever passed before it. A constant state of inescapable uniqueness or novelty.


Definition of Entropy:

“lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.”

Everything in the world goes towards chaos, simply because there are more unique ways a thing can be “disordered” than “ordered”.

Here is a one hour demonstration of chaos produced by the mechanical movement of a double pendulum:

There may be repeating patterns coming from the double pendulum, but in no way can we predict the exact path it takes before it does. And that is really the point I’m trying to make here; time as a whole never reverses, but fragments or parts of reality can be reversed to perform again; to cycle.


Definition of cycle:

“a series of events that are regularly repeated in the same order.”

Cycles usually happens as an effect of reversing some form of entropy. Lowering the entropy of one system to a state of lower entropy can only be made at the cost of increasing the entropy somewhere else.* For this transfer to take place there must either happen two things: 1. An external force puts the disorder from the first system into an equally or more chaotic system. This force in itself requires the production of more entropy 2. The system is connected to an environment with lower entropy where the chaos dissipates into.

This ability of local parts, patterns or systems to reverse to the same (or at least similar) order as before is what gives rise to cycles.

* This describes using potential energy as described in physics.

Relative change (Measurement of time)

By measuring multiple cyclical phenomena taking place at the same time, it is possible to quantitatively (with numbers) compare a specific cycling phenomena in terms of other cycles. For instance, here on earth, we have the cycle of the earth rotating around itself, which we choose to call the period of a day. We also have the cycle of the earth looping around the sun, which we call the period of a year. By these two measures, day and year, we can figure out their relationship to each other by keeping track of when these cycles repeats. One year cycle repeats always only when the day cycle has repeated 365 times (days). And one day cycle repeats only in 0.00273972602 cycles of a years.* With these relative measures of change we observe what we humans refer to as speed and durationNot every cycle repeats as uniformly as a year or a day however, which is a reason why we find it meaningful to measure speed and duration of cyclical phenomena.

* To make these cycles easier to understand and use, we humans also divide these cycles into smaller parts which is why we have months and weeks but also hours, minutes and seconds.

Time dilation (Weird parts of time)

I don’t feel educated enough to talk about this concept in physics, so I’ll let this part be explained with YouTube videos.

The point is, how fast distance change between things (over time) affects how fast time itself goes, which is very hard, at least for me, to grasp. It breaks my concept that there is one universal and physics based present moment. It means that the physically experienced time is slightly different for everyone. That if I go for a car ride and comes back while a friend stays at home, the amount of duration that has passed between the moment I left and came back are not the same physical amount for me and for my friend.

Sometimes I get carried away when I write so it might be hard to keep track of what I’m saying. I want us to be on the same page so please tell me if it’s the case. The journey through this text is coming to an end. But before it is over I want to hear your thoughts.

What is time for you?

Thanks for reading.

The Game of Developing Games

There is a saying that work and play don’t go hand in hand. But what if I told you that all work is actually games in disguise. If you think about it, a project in development is in itself a type of performance, aka a type of play. By adding a few rules and some guidelines, the working process becomes an actual game in itself. A meta game in this case, since it’s a game about making games.

To start playing the meta game, you must first set it up. The setup can be though of as the Meta Meta Game; where the goal is to create the best Meta Game.

Meta Meta Game

Here is an example of my meta meta game

  • Set up a cause for your project or define what you like, enjoy or want to achieve.
  • Create a realistic long-term plan or a system that guarantees outcomes aligned with the defined cause.
  • Make it very clear when you can continue with the project and when it is Game Over. I strongly recommend setting this step up with other people who can check on you and your project.
  • Repeat these two steps indefinitely:
    • Play the meta game with check ups, to see if it works, and if there is room for improvement.
    • Change the rules of the meta game based on ideas and findings.

Meta Game

The core of my meta game is sustainability of my work and progress towards defined goals.

  • Sustainability by managing:
    • Health
    • Motivation
    • Resources
  • Progress
    • Of project/product by managing:
      • Research & Analytics
      • fulfilling objectives
      • Playtesting
    • Of skills by managing:
      • Experimentation / play time.
      • Research & Analytics
      • Kaizen – Documentation and performance measure.


I’m working on a more detailed draft of my meta game to give you better understanding and inspiration for when you set up your own meta game. I’ll post it here when it’s done.

The link will be —> here!

Thank you for reading! I hope what I’m doing in this blog is useful to you. If it isn’t, feel free to comment and maybe we can find a way to make things better. Otherwise if you liked it and you want to share it, do it. Carpe Diem, Emil

A sense of purpose

Why do you do what you do? Why games?

I can’t stress enough how important this is to know.

Both for your own sanity, to have a form of direction and idea of what progress is.

Also for everyone else, for people, friends and family to understand  what and why you are doing what you are.

It’s even important for your audience, as no matter what you create, it will be most understood through a shared perspectives with it’s creator.

“I do it as practice”

Improved ability. I want to be better. At what?

  • Programming
  • Artistery
  • Musics
  • Communication
  • Story telling
  • Etc.

“I do it as Exploration, curiosity, novelty and learning”

  • Simulation beyond thought experiment – What would happen if …?
  • Generating things beyond imagination and expectation.
  • Finding and sharing that which no one have thought of.


This seems like explanations … but there still a bunch of unanswered questions:

Where are you going with this and why do you bother?

Making games is a means to to create and share meaning, experience and knowledge.

So what meaning, experience or knowledge do you seek? What of it do you not seek?

  • What makes you inspired?
  • What brings you a smile?
  • What leaves you in a state of awe?
  • What do you find beautiful?
  • What do you enjoy doing?

What does all these things have in common and where do you stand in this?

  • What’s your philosophy?
  • What are your values?
  • What character embodies those values, who are you?
  • What do you seek out in life?
  • What are your goals?


With a clear view on what you try to accomplish you get the ability to compare. You see the path you are on right now with your project but also the path you are on with your life. A visible direction on your moral or philosophical compass.

Finding a sustainable way to work alone

I’ve been struggling with starting.

I’m the master of exploring new things and abandoning projects.

But now I need to start looking back at everything I’ve been going through.

It seems to me I’ve had no clear direction, but mainly explored what interested me.

Simultaneously I don’t believe in clear direction. If I knew the end result and exactly what would happen then why bother recreating something I already have?

I’ve spent so much of my time looking up things to help me progress. So much as to leave me without doing much else. So much to also leave me without implementing what I’ve learned practically into my life.

Was that a good or a bad choice? I don’t know. All I know is that I have a bunch of thoughts and beliefs of how I should go forward. So I’ll try to make something with what I’ve got.

Only time will tell if it holds to reality.

Here’s a list of a few things I’ve struggled with in the past, which I intend to plan for and work with:

  • Dealing with anxiety
  • Dealing with fears
  • Dealing with health
  • Dealing with boredom
  • Dealing with motivation
  • Dealing with discipline Systematically.
  • Dealing with doubt in ability.
  • Just doing things and being fine with mediocre results.


This will do for now! I’ll expand this into multiple posts that eventually can be a guideline for indie game developers and other lonely workers.