I am making this world (set in the near future) in which no one need to do intense work, what they do instead is sitting at homes that they never leave, waiting for food to be delivered to their sides and playing a special video game called "The Game".

My problem is figuring out a reason why the people that control this world need to keep these apparently unproductive people for. I haven't thought about how this state of the world can come about and this may turn out to be necessary.

Some suggestions:

  • The people work in the game, some kind of works that require human moderation is converted to game form (not sure if its realistic)
  • The controller of the world is not a rational being, for instance, the Architect from Matrix but less sane, and the people are kept around for the controller's personal reasons.
  • There is a need for economic consumption. Not sure if this will work when all people are being the consumer, but considerable if only some of the people have to work.
  • Some A.I. had gone haywire and this state of the world is what it considers "the greatest good for the greatest number"

closed as too broad by Frostfyre, Josh King, Hohmannfan, Aify, TrEs-2b Sep 6 '16 at 5:23

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Recommend you provide more details about your world, and a least a cursory framework for your in-world history. As it stands a) The question as titled is extremely broad and b) With so little detail your answer could just as easily be "It doesn't matter", offering no real criteria for answer selection. Seriously consider the "it doesn't matter" answer; if you didn't think about it until now, it might not really be so relevant. Non-specificity is a real thing. $\endgroup$ – Lord Dust Sep 6 '16 at 0:02

Post scarcity worlds are hard to write to because most of us think in scarcity terms. Part of the fun of writing about post-scarcity is deciding what processes you think could work or should work in a post-scarcity world.

One thing that can help in brainstorming such reasons is to recognize that there is no economic competition post-scarcity. One of the primary forces we have weeding out groups of people is that, if you don't provide enough to society, you will be replaced by those who do. If you're making a product for \$100 and someone else can make the exact same product for \$10, you get displaced. In post-scarcity, this does not occur at all. The maker of \$100 items can coexist with the maker of \$10 items.

Typically, to make a post-scarcity world realistic in any way shape or form, one has to consider conserved values such as conservation of energy or conservation of mass. Unless your post-scarcity world has a magical device which produces free energy or free matter, you're going to have a conserved resource. To have a post-scarcity world which has conserved resources is a delicate balance. People must want resources to be distributed exactly as they are distributed. If they were to want otherwise, their thinking would immediately turn to scarcity thinking.

Combining these two points, we see that the people playing The Game do not need to actively contribute to the post-scarcity world in a measurable way, they merely need to not use any more conserved resources than people want them to use. This means their productivity can be virtually 0 and still be accepted, so long as their productivity does not become negative.

Even negative productivity could be accepted in a world without perfect information. It may be that these gamers have an unclear productivity. Maybe they're producing something useful, maybe they aren't. If the civilization doesn't want to reallocate resources in a different way, then they will be left to continue.

Along this vein, their presence may provide a stabilizing effect on the post-scarcity world. They could be a balancing tool to keep resource properly controlled. Or perhaps this civilization is more 1984-esque, and The Game is actually a scarcity distopia designed to show the good citizens what happens if you think in scarcity terms.

Really the answers are endless, but if you properly balance the issues of tying post-scarcity to conserved values, the end result will have value to the reader.

  • $\begingroup$ In Star Trek, Picard has a family vinyard. There is only one instance of that land, so there is scarcity in some items. Sure, people hqve all the food and shoes they want for free, but they need to compete for ownership of that vinyard somehow. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Sep 6 '16 at 1:36
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @JDługosz The vinyard may qualify as a conserved entity. However, you only need to compete for ownership of that vinyard if different individuals have differing opinions regarding who should own that vinyard. As long as everyone agrees that that particular vinyard should be owned by Picard and his family, there is no issue. How you get everyone to agree is one of the great questions of post-scarcity fiction. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Sep 6 '16 at 3:39

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.