The dangerous look of development and developmental science
Elite: Dangerous (2015) is a newly released computer game in which players make their individual ways through an open-ended, competition-filled galaxy. Players’ choices and moves are critical for the unfolding of the game. They affect them directly, but they also affect what thousands of other players can do, thus shaping the possible patterns of relationships in the entire galaxy. Playing the game is dangerous, because the possibilities are open ended, and because players’ choices and actions can have unexpected, embedded, long-term and unforeseen consequences. The workings of this virtual world, however, do not seem very different from the processes of development involved in our actual world, either in the experiences of developing persons, or in the progress of the developmental science that Jaan Valsiner (Chapter 4, this volume) ascribes to Bob Cairns and his colleagues through the Carolina Consortium on Human Development. In the quest to understand human development experientially or scientifically, Valsiner claims, “Development can look dangerous” (p. 000). How can this be? What makes development look dangerous as a life experience? What makes scientific research that seeks to make sense of those experiences look dangerous as a research program and as a social agenda for developmental scientists to pursue?