Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Grand Unified Gaming Theory

I came up with this while talking to Jessica. It's basically how life is like a video game. We were talking about sandbox games that are pretty much “do as you please” games that are just like that. There's no real direction, or purpose. As much as I like these games, and do enjoy exploring the vast worlds, I do need rules and boundaries in a game. I need direction. When I played Skyrim, I left the main quest uncompleted while I went and did all the guilds and side missions I could find because I know once I do the main quest, I tend to lose interest in the game. To me, life is actually like this. I realise I've lost most of you now, but I'm about to get philosophical up in here, and maybe get some of you back.

See, in a game you are, usually, given a set amount of parameters to complete and eventually you reach the end of the game. I'm using open ended role playing games here as the example. In a game, you start weak, and advance by collecting experience and becoming stronger. In life you do this as well. You experience life, and grow as an individual. There are three major goals in the game of life. Getting a love, raising a family, and fulfilling your own individual life goals. Each person's life goal tends to be different, and sadly not everyone meets theirs. You can look at this as the “main quest” of life, with those points being the objectives. When you complete the main quest of life, much like I do with an open ended game, you find yourself thinking you've achieved everything you have to do in life. You become content, and feel you can die happily, or at least you're able to accept death. I've done barely anything I wanted to do in life, so I'm in no hurry to accept my own mortality.

In games, especially these days with RPGs, you face difficult choices that cause you to act on a moralistic basis. You can choose to do what you believe in, or do away with everything and live how you want. Some games these days have even stepped away from clear black and white moral choices, and have you pick between the lesser of two evils, or take sides when you might prefer not to. You trade money for weapons, goods, and items to restore your health. You rest as well to restore your health, much like sleeping restores a person. A downside though is that games often don't focus on the little choices that tend to become much bigger changes down the line. It would be nice to see that implemented in the future.

Depending on your beliefs, what happens at the end of life is also similar to what happens in a game. You can argue that essentially the afterlife of Heaven/Hell is basically downloadable content, made to extend the game. Except you pay for it with your mortal body, rather than currency. Though of course in several ancient traditions people were buried with coins to pay the ferryman with on the river Styx. Or, if you believe in reincarnation, you simply hit the continue button, or restart the game from scratch, as no two playthroughs are the same. You get to make a whole new set of choices, in a whole new world, with whole new people. Kind of like Minecraft. The world is randomised, and it's up to you to explore and live in it, and make what you can out of it.

Now THAT is a good metaphor, and is really the one I should have stuck with, as in Minecraft you literally make something out of the world you have been given.

I realise that I've talked a lot of bollocks here, and not all of it makes sense, but it did in my head, and when you get that shot of inspiration, well, you have to write. It's just a shame that most of you guys aren't in to games, and probably won't get all of this.


  1. Your comparison between life and gaming is a good one Mark, I don't really disagree with anything here. On a side note I've never played Skyrim before but all I ever hear about it are good things so there's something at least.

  2. That is a good metaphor Mark. My daughter plays like you do. Very methodical about getting everything done before going on. She will spend hours leveling her character up. She's careful but she plays to win. If your metaphor is correct, then that means I'm a good mom!

  3. Ahh. Very inspiring. I understand what you're talking about. My life is pretty much like playing Grand Theft Auto -- and you know the way you got to play GTA, everybody does it.

  4. I'm not into video games but I understand what you're talking about 'cause my bestfriend's addicted to them and this sounds exactly like something she'd say. Right now she's playing this game called Persona and it has a lot of "little choices," like choosing what to say in a convo. And if you choose wrong, your social bond with that person will be broken forever.

    So yeah. Big changes.

    Also, if you make the title of this post into an acronym, it's GUGT. There's nothing special about it but I wanted to point it out because GUGT sounds funny.

  5. yes well compared and games should give more freedoms to players always

  6. Sounds like an interesting game. If you make it, I will play it.

  7. I've played both Skyrim and Minecraft! Though, like you I've done a million side quests and got pretty much no where in the main story. I've played too many Final Fantasy games to know that trying to bang out the main quest immediately is a bad idea.

    I agree with your metaphor, though. I'm playing Dragon's Dogma at the moment, and it has that same open-ended quality and free-roam stuff.

  8. As I read this my brother is playing Minecraft on the X-Box..spooky, huh?! x

  9. Let me know when you figure out how to mod and/or hack real life.

    When I'm infinitely rich, able to flying on a unicorn and shoot lightning from my butt, then I'll be happy.

  10. Too bad DLC rarely comes free these days.

    But yeah, that's quite decent a metaphor you got there. Guess games are tailored to be a bit like life though, since the audience relates to it a lot easier then.

  11. I wish I was into games, but there is not enough time in the day to be into everything I suppose. They do seem to help build all types of skills that could help one be more successful at life, because gamers seem to possess some talents that the rest of us are sorely deficient in.

  12. It's not bullshit, it's true. Video games were designed that way. It's why the heroes have absolutely no personality.


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