We have spent the last little while working through defining what concept of the game is or isn’t. None of the actual detail yet – but the overarching ideas.
Now it’s time for the next step. What role are we playing in this?
We already explained how the underlying biological will of life is to survive and live long enough to reproduce – but as you can see, we live in a far more complicated world as humans than the one the planet began in. What role does a modern human play?
I have some ideas on this- whether they are true or not is for you to decide. I merely hope to trigger some questions in your mind on how to approach your own definition of the player. This entire exercise is after all subjective, you will build YOUR game. Nobody else’s.
What makes a player in a game?
Before entering reality, you have to understand the virtual archetype you are emulating. An RPG player is someone playing the game, they have skills/progressions, the belong to a certain group/tribe (selected or preassigned), they usually have an enemy or main objective that guides their whole journey. They usually play a key role in the narrative.
The beautiful thing about the human experience is that every individual is living their own narrative and you don’t have to save the world to feel like the main player. Imagine watching all the MCU movies – each hero has his own arc and origin and they all feel like their own main characters – yet they all come together and live in a meta narrative for the Avengers / Team up films.
This is precisely what the player is emulating in real life. First they must define their own stories, then (if you choose) participate in the meta narrative – you can be a part of something greater.
But are you even willing to become the player?
There is definitely a sizeable population that wants nothing do with the trials, tribulation, and sacrifice of becoming a player. The player’s path is a path of great pain and great reward.
Most are comfortable with the path of the NPC. This is what society has bred you to be and there is nothing inherently wrong with it. To be a shopkeeper or a tavern owner – admirable. To be a software dev or doctor – perfectly ok. Imagine the stability in routine, the ability to put down roots, make consistent friends and chase the trappings of the world rather than play any specific game.
But….much like virtual NPC’s you are at the mercy of the game. This is also one of the reasons I suspect you are here…
The sentence in the title may ruffle some feathers but in this post I’m hoping to do a deep dive in my approach to the idea that this blog is built on. If I’m going to do what I’m after, it’s important to explain the reasoning behind it.
I wholeheartedly expect people to brush this off as child like ideation. A desire to escape; and to be fair – I wouldn’t blame them. It’s a very logical conclusion to reach based on the typical understanding of rpg games/worlds and it seems very silly. It may also be treated with a sense of naivety/contempt as it may seem to downplay the seriousness of reality (ie “there are no second lives here”, “a fuckup can cost you big time”). I assure you, this is not my intention.
This is merely a holistic attempt at re framing reality in an age of declining religion, increased media pressures, and overall sense of despair and take back some of the mental narrative in a context that youth understand. It is not to downplay reality – but to truly thrive in the rules given in an objective manner. To not get hung up over the meaning of existence (unless you choose to pursue that quest line) and to simply, play the game. To be able to do that with this philosophy seeped into your bones I suspect will lead to incredible results (time will tell if this is true, as I myself am still at the beginning of hammering down what all this is about).
So as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Facebook announced something known as the metaverse. A scaled down virtual reality world.
Here’s the keynote if you wanna know more:
So lets jump right in. I think this idea is fundamentally flawed on a few levels:
Power Grid: The idea of investing your life into a virtual reality in a world as unstable as this is a foolhardy endeavor. It literally takes one major outage/fire and you’re efforts are wasted. It’s one thing if we were in a utopia type situation but there is literal resource scarcity right now and this is supposed to be an effective use of those resources?
Facebook in charge?: I wouldn’t trust that company to do the right thing if everyone’s lives depended on it. They can also likely seize your account/credits if they so choose – why give them that much power?
Greater invasion of privacy: Now they will know how you move around, how your behavior works, how awkward you likely are and more. They already know so much, why give them more? That’s your info they made $29B in profits off of.
WFH for all?: Yo, this pandemic has taught me one thing and its that flexible arrangements are the way to go- a combo of WFH and office. I don’t want to be at home plugged in 8H a day only interacting with people through the metaverse.
Technology: Yeah sure we can have all the humanoid style people we want, but just to properly render an eye it takes 30K resolution and we don’t even have that tech let alone at an affordable price. This is maybe 10-20 years off before its ever fully realized. This will give people massive headaches/nausea if they are in it for 5H a day. It’s too soon.
All in all, I think it will be heavily rejected by the market unless Facebook truly creates some killer solution that solves major issues.
I want to take a moment to get into the philosophical aspect of why this doesn’t work and why virtual reality will have a hard time taking off (unless certain factors like climate change come into play).
What do people actually hope for in their RPG experiences?
I think it’s a sense of freedom & progression. It represents new worlds and new beginnings that aren’t bogged down by reality.
There’s just one problem though…it’s not real progression!
It’s very easy to justify progression in a video game because real life doesn’t buy into it as often, forcing you to invest in your current reality as much as your virtual one. There is clear separation between what is real progression IRL vs what’s inside a game. If the metaverse concept takes off – than “real life” progression is tied to what’s inside of a boring VR game?
If IRL life becomes a VR Game , then worth of a human life for the vast majority is relatively “meaningless” in the objective sense as you aren’t accruing material skills/land/etc. Personally you may feel different but you won’t be able to shake the feeling that you aren’t actually doing anything. That cognitive dissonance for a good number of people will always remain and that’s a problem when you could be investing in alternate future for yourself.
The only scenario where I think a takeover is viable is an apocalyptic mad max type scenario where the real world is so bleak that even the slightest reprieve is worth it to most.
Who would really be progressing if not for mark zuckerburg / elites who profit and live in the real world while the rest of the world is earning facebook points living in digital mansions while actually crammed in a 1 bedroom studio apartment?
Anything short of some matrix level tech – you can’t even learn interesting physical skills in the metaverse so lets say you bought a mansion and had your friends visit – you guys can’t go horseback riding, play real bowling, or any of these things. Just kiddie air acting versions – dilution of the human energy at its finest. You aren’t truly enjoying an opera – you’re enjoying a virtual representation of an opera – a ghost, a shadow of the real thing.
This is why I’m developing RPG Philosophy. I wanna pull a reverse-Meta and make real life as engaging as the virtual one. By pulling elements of VR/RPG’s out rather than putting ourselves in – then we are truly living & progressing again in a shared absolute reality that is not fickle to the whims of power / electricity.
People in power would obviously prefer everyone huddled in their bedrooms earning capital for them online – but YOU have to take back that autonomy, they will not relinquish it.
Make your life into the RPG and play the game for the rest of your life. Am I rambling-100%. But who cares , at least I’m writing consistently again 😀
In 2019, I played “my last game” – the Witcher 3. I wouldn’t say I had an addiction but I wasn’t taking charge of my life and that was a big problem and I blamed gaming for absorbing that drive. What was interesting is that I was able to keep away due to life circumstances for over a year – but as I work in the tech sector, It found it’s way back in. Many of my peers enjoy gaming in their downtime. There is of course nothing wrong with this, but after the year I just had: Picking up the controller just didn’t feel the same after…
Games became this objective thing that I couldn’t escape into. It’s like once I saw everything for what it was – it was hard to swallow the pill of escaping away into the witcher. I had worked so hard to get out for so long that the experience of enjoying a game (even with friends) felt tainted after this period – like a bitter fruit.
But it begged the question – despite having conquered it , it had such a powerful pull that even afterwards I found myself seeking out new worlds that games provide. What hadn’t I solved/accounted for when I quit?
What was I still seeking that games provided?
Let’s get right into it, these are elements that I’ve gathered that makes makes gaming the force that it is today:
New Worlds: As a creative individual, I always respect a well fleshed out world. Each one represents it’s own escape and characters that grab us – allowing us to live many lives not bound by the same rules/physics of earth or enjoy experiences otherwise impossible. This keeps our sense of novelty/ there is always something new on high.
Competence/Confidence: I highly suspect this is the primary reasons why “nerds” used to be the one’s to escape into video games, lack of social competence. Games offer a realm in which a player can build confidence in their ability to play unlike reality which is often confusing and has a myriad of unknown factors/people making snap judgements. A linear track vs a messy one ultimately.
Level playing field: Tying into the last point, everyone’s character is essentially the same at a start of the game. Sure they have different traits, skins, etc. But it’s the same game for everyone to a certain point and this creates a sense of fairness that isn’t present in reality.
Safety /No risk of danger: taking: In real life if you want to achieve something great you usually have to take big risks that can cost you massive amounts of time, health, or relationships. In games, even the worst decision can be insulated by shutting off the game )in most cases that don’t bleed into IRL). This insulates the risk associated with achievement making it consistently enjoyable.
Faster grind /leveling up (feeling of wealth/skill): This is ultimately the largest hurdle to cross. In real life , earning skills takes an immense amount of time and effort. In video games, it’s a linear track of progression with some challenges thrown in and much more substantial payouts than what one might expect in real life.
Fills the time/makes life exciting: As poverty and economic inequality increases , most people simply don’t have the resources to live an exciting life as they once did. Games all of a sudden can offer more action than they can handle for around $500 (factoring in console costs) and relatively cheap thereafter via sales. High stimulus for a reasonably low price.
Escaping reality /Despair (be it friends, family, climate, work culture, etc): It’s no secret that the world grows increasingly bleak and many youth also feel a sense of despair about what’s to come. Facing these problems are incredibly daunting for someone who is ill-equipped; as a method for dealing with deteriorating mental health – games can offer some sense of relief against the IRL situations.
Alternative fulfillment of needs: As I’m sure many have likely heard of by this point. There is a psychological concept known as Mazlow’s Hierarchy of needs (google it), but basically its a pyramid of supposed needs that a human needs to fulfill over the course of their life. They range from basics like food, water, to self actualization. Physical needs aside, games & the surrounding industry is definitely at a point where it can sustain most of the purposes now. You can make friends through gaming , technically find relationships, you can be a streamer and make money (good luck lol), you can develop a reputation in your community and quite possibly self actualize via creativity and other means – all inside the realm of gaming. This is pretty awesome and for certain people – it gives them the exact gateway they are looking for. But most people have to “grow up” and quite simply have different passions then gaming for 8H a day and games obviously can’t account for this variation.
Despite having claimed to have quit, I didn’t fill the void and actually start achieving. It felt good at first because quitting was an achievement – but you have to switch the focus to something just as powerful after. This is the ultimate problem and until you do so – quitting is always going to be temporary. You’ll find a way back in one way or another.
If I’m going to stand a chance at making a philosophy/school of thinking like this work, it’s elements have to tackle these conditions or else it doesn’t stand a chance at reaching escape velocity into the global awareness.
But hey, I’m not one to shy away from the challenge. If you’re new here – my intro posts are basically like the foundational points/base theory I wanna make before diving into the practical system I’m developing for RPG Philosophy. Even if the post is live , consider it a draft as my understanding of the world is constantly changing and until I write some unified single document – everything is up in the air. It may seem in these early posts that I am anti-gaming but I am not, as more posts become available you’ll see where I am going with this.
I will be covering/reviewing games at some point and lots more to come so stay tuned! Also a youtube channel once I figure out my format!