I'm working on a post for a game related forum about the numbers involved in damage/stats/experience in that game.. and how mudflation has left them insanely huge.
I remember an idea from my school days about how numbers, after a certain point, mean virtually nothing to the human mind... A billion, a trillion, ten thousand billion trillian.. numbers like that, cannot properly be perceived by the human mind as we have nothing to compare them too. Unfortunately, I can't find any sources of it from google.
Has anyone heard of this, or know what the proper term for the theory is?
I don't know the proper term for it, sorry. I do know it exists. It's slightly similar to the Monkeysphere (the proper term is actually Dunbar's number) but that concerns itself with different kinds of numbers.
And slightly offtopic - if a game does have ridiculously large numbers, especially something that can be called "insanely huge", that game has a problem. Actually, problems, plural. At the very least, computing large numbers is slow and inefficient. And then, you hit the integer limit and have to do hacks to be able to compute them. And the hacks will range from inaccurate to inefficient again. And then, there are the humans again, when they need to process what is the difference between, for example, 80000000000 and 500000000000.
In fact, Endgame: Singularity does something like this - you start off with small numbers - 200, 1000, 2000. As the game progresses, the numbers grow in orders of magnitude, when at first you had to pay, say, 5000 for an upgrade and that was a lot, you suddenly get 70 000. And after you get numbers in the billion and trillions. But the way Singularity handles that, for the player's convenience, is to represent the numbers by tacking on the since after it. So after 100 000, you would get 1 mi (for one million), then 10 mi, 100 mi and afterwards 1 bi (one billion) and so on, until you hit 80 tri or so, which I think is the largest number used (you can still get more assets than that, you just don't have anything to use them on).
It's a simpler representation of insanely high numbers that helps people understand the numbers in terms of
(an understandable number)(how big it actually is). You can immediately understand what 80bi and 500bi are and how they relate to each other.
This is a very real phenomenon - it's very difficult to conceive vast quantities, which is why analogies such as 'the length of 10 football pitches' or 'enough to fill 50 Olympic swimming pools' are commonplace. Giving us an everyday focal point to work with enables us to visualise the information and comprehend it better.
With abstract numbers, such as experience, it can be difficult to reference everyday concepts, so making the numbers immediately understandable in the way @DoPo references above can be a good start.