Categories
Internet Culture

Day 261 and Game Drama

I have been playing a mobile massively multiplayer online game for a couple of years. It’s a pay-to-play game that mashes together every mechanic and trope into one stupidly expensive pile of unoriginal comfort. I absolutely love playing it. It’s called Lords Mobile. It is entirely worth playing if you appreciate the craftsmanship and conversion marketing. It doesn’t gave any unique creativity but that isn’t the point. It’s just perfectly executed to be an engaging game. I cannot recommend this game enough if you want a soothing “everything and the kitchen sink” social game.

Because it asks so little of the gamer intellectually, the appeal of the game is in the community of people. You work in teams of 100 called a guild. This can be a very low key camaraderie situation or the kind of bond where people spend tens of thousands of dollars to compete together in their chosen hobby. Needless to say if you are in the group that really spends real money and time you get to see human nature nakedly on display. It gets wild.

Ive seen guilds explode because a guy was cheating on his girlfriend with another player. That mistress then destroyed 30,00 worth of gear and destroyed the guild. I’ve seen people steal maxed out gaming accounts worth over $100,000 with no recourse. Just poof you trusted someone with your keys. Ooops!

And today I saw three dudes try to convince their guild that the leader of the group was stealing from the guild because she’d allegedly been in sexual relationships with all of them. It doesn’t sound like she stole anything from anyone but they resented that they had spent money on gifts for her account. The guild didn’t believe the dudes. It’s their problem if they want to buy gifts was the general consensus.

The level of human drama is probably even more enthralling than the game. And the game is designed to be very engaging. I don’t watch reality television but I have to imagine it has a similar “oh no she didn’t” spirit. If you enjoy watching the depths of sorrow and the purity of genuine human connection it’s worth a try. Just be warned that you may become emotionally attached. I definitely have. I’ve met some dear friends in these guilds. But I’d recommend you not give anyone your credit card. Or if you do don’t go whining about it to me.

Categories
Aesthetics Background

Day 184 and Enthusiasm

Nothing great was ever done without enthusiasm!

Some Waldorf classroom recitation

I went to a type of school called a “Waldorf” school for primary education. It’s a pedagogy that believes education should balance intellectual pursuits with artistic and physical ones to develop a well rounded human. A popular coinage is “head, heart and hands” but that’s honestly way too hippie dippie for what is a very practical and grounded approach to learning to be a human that has need for physical, spiritual and cerebral training.

Instead of staring at books all day you spend quite a bit of time on more classical pursuits to balance out traditional subjects like math and histories with music, drama, and a wide variety of physical education. Now you may think ok that’s just gym or music class right? Well, sort of, in the same way learning the alphabet is useful for reading. You need building blocks first. Small children aren’t particular good with javelins, Greek tragedy or the flute so they start you out small. Think “Sound of Music” Do-Re-Mi but for every subject.

One of the techniques Waldorf uses to help children learn to manage their bodies (likely also emotions & mind) is regular recitations. You memorize poems, chants and pieces of drama. You then physically practice run in a group or individually. Often a sequence of rhythmic clapping, chanting, stomping or other ways of integrating your body to the mental act of memorization is part of the process. It can be as complex as a portion of the Bhagavad-Gita (yes I’ve done this) or as simple as a sports chant.

Nothing great was ever done without enthusiasm!

I’ve got a fond memory of a classroom teacher insisting we start the day with energy and enthusiasm by using what is basically an arena chant that would be suitable for cheering on a sports team.

She’d have us get on our feet and in unison recite back “nothing great was ever done…..without….EN-THUS-IAAAASMMMMM!

We’d repeat it over and over again with a 1-2-1-2 beat upfront and then a pause between done and without, and then a great push to pull out the word enthusiasm, with well, as much enthusiasm as we could muster.

By the end the entire class would be all smiles taking huge breathes to push out all the air they could through their diaphragms to put as much emphasis on “enthusiasm” as they could deliver. We’d be standing tall with our shoulders pulled back to give us the maximum advantage for our breath work. I swear these kids had a better grasp on Wim Hoff breathing than an Olympian. For a 5th grader it made use of multiple lessons we’d been taught over the years on diction, posture, physical presence, poise, timing, control and energy. Lessons that then served us well as we went on to sing Handel’s Messiah or learn Greek wrestling.

Plus it was a terrific reminder that all great things require our full selves. Enthusiasm is the path to greatness. Sure hard work and intelligence matters but if you love something with enthusiasm that puts you in the right path. So I try to remember that if I want a big outcome for something I need to feel real enthusiasm for it. And I’ll recite that chant in my head. Because that’s one of the building blocks I use to create success.

Categories
Finance

Day 140 and Gaming The System

I’m extremely envious of people who enjoy explicit rule based games. People who find points structures exciting have a tactical advantage in our current moment. In America financialization, the trend of financial services generating wealth instead of making goods or selling services, dominates our economy. Gamers make the best traders and bankers in post industrial capitalism because they love gaming the rules.

I’ve never been the sort to scour rules looking for exploits in individual levels. I’m a gut player that wraps their head around the basic directions of a system and moves to be aligned for final bosses or big game or infinite play. I’ve never been particularly excited about quirks, loopholes or exploits. As long as I think I have a decent overview I’ll just throw myself into gameplay with an intuition of what looks like enjoyable continuous play. I don’t need to be rewarded with discrete wins I am happy to just play and build.

I’ve got friends who relish the day to day optimization stuff. They run the gamut from professional mathematicians to gamblers and full time gamers. The thing they all have in common is a love for the individual wins. They solve problems. They will rack up wins in short games but are less motivated by building towards dominance in any given system or game over time. They respond positively to the kinds of short loops that makes level play so much fun.

I’m more of a long loop than a distinct arc player. I like mental maps and models that don’t always give an immediate or measurable reward sets but rather engaging me in nested, dependent loops that yield unexpected dynamics. While I love games that have economies that have immediate yields I’m so much more turned on by ones that have distinctive world level macroeconomic game play. Nothing gets me more invested than causality you can’t see or map immediately.

But I’m envious of people that are good gamers because they have the skills and intuition for financial games. I want to be a winner at stuff like like yield farming that mimic the kind of play to win whale games. I can defend all the kinds of games I am good and how they are worth a lot too but for the moment I’ll just let my envy sit and admire the player of games.

Categories
Aesthetics Emotional Work Internet Culture Politics

Day 134 and A Short Guide to Being An Edgelord

As my friend Seyi wisely said; sometimes your life gets chosen for you and sometimes you choose your own life. So try to chose your own life as often and as soon possible before someone else does. This challenge seems especially relevant as the culture wars rage on and regular peons like you and I can become collateral damage.

I’ve known for a while that I wasn’t going to be a fit for institutional settings like big tech corporations or civil service. I struggle to to be anything but myself. I mouth off too much. I’m not very good at kissing the ring. It’s not that I can’t engage in behaviors or manners you’d expect, I merely find it tiring. I’m also saddled with some physical limits. I’ve got the kind of medical conditions that gets a lot of virtue signaling from corporate communications types but isn’t really all that appealing except as a token. So unless I wanted to be miserable in middle management I knew I needed to opt out of the game. And that meant winning on my own terms.

Here is a harsh truth that the panic mongers in the cancel culture debate don’t want to say out loud. You cannot expect to survive a system and certainly not a culture war unless you take sides. Humans are riddled with bias and institutional self preservation is strong. The only side you should take is your own.

But you must accept that choosing your own life has consequences. Living out loud as the full uncensored you may cut off certain opportunities just as it opens new ones. Be aware of this reality and do not complain that you are a victim of circumstances when you have more choice than you realize. I’m not suggesting all areas are open to everyone nor that we shouldn’t fight for legal rights and protections. Merely that we are limited as individuals by the cultures and institutions of our time. Social mores move slowly even when pressed by revolutionaries.

My best advice? If want to be an edgelord. Be a real one. Go full crypto. Middle finger to the law. Fuck the police. Start a newsletter with monetization. Find your tribe. Learn some practical homestead skills.

You want to play corporate ladder? Play by those rules. There are dress codes and “ways things are done” and hierarchical structures you must obey. Get their credentials and be excellent at the values the organization wants.

You cannot straddle both worlds. This didn’t used to be a controversial statement. It wasn’t an affront that you had to put on a suit and say “yes sir” until pretty recently. Sometimes you just have to play the game. Go read the 48 laws of power and get back to me.

Trying to express who you are publicly if it’s not within bounds of the institutional norms might get you fired. Or maybe you take a stand that gets you promoted if you judge what norms can be pushed. Depends on the institution. So know that if you set onto the path of “choosing your own life” the consequences might be a lack of access and options. Or it might open you up to an entirely new world where you work and live with people who like you. But straddling the middle is recipe for emotional misery.

If I were you I’d begin to do the work to walk the path of the life you want now. Before someone else chooses for you.

Categories
Chronic Disease Chronicle Internet Culture

Day 118 and Games

I wasn’t a gamer as a kid but as an adult I’ve come to love gaming. The joy of accomplishments, the camaraderie of guild members, and the fantasy of the worlds are powerful magic. I’ve met dear friends that I love every much as anyone IRL.

Gaming has significant social benefits apparently. Which anyone who spends a lot of time in Discords and guild chats can vouch for. My gaming friends are some of my closest friends. I know more about their lives than I sometimes do about coworkers or casual acquaintances.

In findings published in 2017, the team found that MMO engagement correlated to a stronger sense of social identity, or how people self-identify based on their affiliation to groups. That social identity then corresponded with higher self-esteem and more social competence and lower levels of loneliness, the researchers found.

But it doesn’t have to be immersive or social to be worth my time. I like ditzy mobile games too. Silly games that don’t take up too much cognitive overhead can be the most relaxing. It’s fun to move around cartoon bubbles or dress up a Kardashian. And sure enough that has benefits too. Improved problem solving skills, improved cognition and and eases pain. Guess that might be why I like it.

It’s common to try to distract ourselves from pain by paying attention to something else or focusing on other body mechanisms, but that’s not the only reason why games are a good post-injury prescription. Playing can actually produce an analgesic (pain-killing) response in our higher cortical systems. The more immersive, the better—which is why pending virtual reality systems may one day be as prevalent in hospitals as hand sanitizer.” Mental Floss

The truth is even with all the benefits I think play is important. Time to do nothing but engage in childlike enjoyment makes life better. I just want to do something fun and relaxing and and not worry about anything while I do it.