single player

Playing Less and/or Winning More

There was a time when games were fewer and further between. Games were less available and harder to obtain. It was not so long ago where renting games from the local store was a major source of excitement, wanting to see if the game I wanted to play was returned by the other customer renting it. Games of interest would come out once or twice a year. During these times, any individual game felt like they had much more impact and were more enjoyable.

Today, games are coming out at a much faster pace. Game development and ownership has expounded, especially for PC gamers where new games can be purchased and downloaded so much more easily through online arcades (e.g. Steam, GoG). Even console platforms are transitioning more towards digital purchases and downloads from the comfort of your room. We have so many more games at our fingertips compared to before. But are we appreciating them more? Are we Winning more?

I suspect that this is a matter falling under the umbrella of “ignorance is bliss?” When we know less games, see less games, and are exposed to less games (like in the past), we may think we know more or enjoy more or Win more than we actually could be.

I suspect that if I could play more games with a higher level of appreciation than if I play 1 game repeatedly to its limits, I would rather play and enjoy more games. But it’s hard to just reject that feeling of nostalgia, the urge of wanting to Play Less and Win More.

I kind of want to force myself to play slowly, to read every line of text in an MMORPG, to digest the content as if they would be all that I am seeing until next month or next year. Is this a reasonable request?

Maybe it’s okay to play quickly, as long as the overall content I get to with the extra time I gain is more than if I played slowly. I may be speed-reading or skipping a lot of content, but is this fine as long as I am getting to the same or more overall content over 5 games instead of heavily focusing on 1 game? Or maybe we are rushing things too much?

If I could re-tune myself to be able to still go quickly, to have quicker reading comprehension, to have an adjusted sense and scale of time, and then still appreciate everything more than if I were not enhanced, I suspect I would be getting more value and Winning more. But I don’t have those enhancements. We don’t have that capability, at least not yet.

In the meantime, what do I do? As long as I’m having fun playing video games, whether they be 1 or 100, does it even matter?

I think it would matter, if instead of thinking about video games, we think of similar aspects of life.

Ignorance is bliss. But if I could know more, and be aware of other things to understand and care about, I should want that right?

Unless I think it’s okay to turn a blind eye to those around me that are suffering, that are Losing in life.

We each have our set of problems and obstacles before us. Is it fine to approach these slowly? These problems are few and far between, right?

There may come a time when people as a whole start to notice that there are more problems in this world besides their own, or besides their immediate neighbors own. We are exposed to a lot of news around the world, through broadcast television and social media, at a pace that only seems to continue growing rapidly. We are more connected to those around us.

Are we just focusing on ourselves, or a small proportion of the many, and tuning out the rest? Or are we just glancing across them, speed-reading without full comprehension and rushing to move on to the next?

I think if we had to choose, there would be two optimal approaches depending on the person and situation. We should either focus on less and care more for those few, or if we are capable or can become capable, focus on more and care even more.

Some people might Win more when they play less, and Win less when they play more.

Some people might Win more when they play more, and Win less when the play less.

We should all try to Win, first for ourselves as Single Players. If that means we need to focus on ourselves first, without getting to others, then that’s fine by me. First and foremost, take care of yourself. Don’t stretch yourself too thin and be overwhelmed trying to help others, leading to you unable to help yourself.

But if we can reliably Win for ourselves, I think those interested should then come together to Win even more for those that are losing.

So where am I on the spectrum of Playing Less and/or Winning More? Where are you?

And if we had the option to enhance ourselves or select a preferential mind-state, would it be okay to choose blissful ignorance? If offered a Blue Pill and a Red Pill, would there necessarily be a better choice?

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On Giving For Giving

[Yesterday Afternoon]

As I was walking home from work, a random man came up to me.

“Can you spare me some change?” he asks.

I give him one of my blanket responses, “I don’t carry cash on me”. It’s not that I don’t carry cash on me, but I don’t really feel comfortable giving random people cash to spend on whatever they want.

As I start to walk away, he then asks “Can you buy me a sandwich then?”, since we happened to be outside a deli restaurant. I can’t say that I would always agree or disagree in this situation, but I happened to not be in a rush and was amenable to this.

“Can you get me a meatball sub?” he follows. I wasn’t sure that this particular place offered such a thing, so I ask him to just go inside with me so that he could order. As we approach the door, he follows up and asks “Can you get me a salad too?”, where I respond that I would rather just buy him 1 sandwich.

When inside, he proceeds to order, and asks if I could also get him extra avocado on the sandwich. I agree to that. Since I also regularly eat meals around this time, I also order a sandwich for myself.

“So what’s your name?”, I ask. He then introduces himself as Michael, and tells me that he is waiting for the 1st of the month for some money.

I ask Michael if this was a paycheck, and he hesitatingly responds “Something like that”. I follow up and ask him what he’s doing to get back on his feet. He says that he’s doing odd jobs here and there, but one of the people he works for wasn’t available that day.

Some silence as we wait for our order. “Time seems to flow by quickly, it’s already October” he mentions. While time seems to flow by pretty slowly at this moment.

Throughout this time, I try to think of how else I can ask or assure that he is trying to get back his feet. I don’t come up with anything special, so I just exchange small talk with him.

Our sandwiches are ready, I pay at the counter with a credit card, and as we walk out the door he asks for my name and shakes my hand.

“Take care of yourself”, I say.

“God bless you”, he says.

And we walk separate ways.

When I got home yesterday and revisited this encounter, I was tempted to think about what I gained from it. Maybe I could blog about it, I thought. I also didn’t really feel anything special, and considered that maybe I wasted my time time and money.

I decided to let the moment pass a little longer, and wait to collect my thoughts the next day.


[Earlier Today]

Revisiting the events of yesterday, thinking. “Take care of yourself”, I told Michael as I parted ways with him. Was this just a habitual goodbye statement, or more intentional?

In this moment of giving, why was I thinking about what I received?

I wanted to make sure that he was getting back on his feet. Was this for my benefit, or for his?

Why was I somewhat disappointed when I didn’t feel anything special after giving?

Why did I think I should blog about this?


[Later Today]

“God bless you” he told me. If a god is going to bless some somebody, let it be you.

What would people do without a camera recording their good deeds?

What would people do without a social media outlet to highlight their goodness?

What would people do without anyone seeing what they are doing?

Why do people need incentives for giving? I know why, but still, why?


[Now]

I’ve written on why we must first learn to Win as a Single Player so that we Don’t Starve Together. I’ve mentioned that I don’t think I will drop everything I am doing and help everyone who comes asking for my help. I can’t save everybody, but that doesn’t mean I should save nobody. There are times where I can give some of myself, to help others do better.

Why do we have to hear frequently about how giving will make us feel good? I think it would be better, and more sustainable, to tell people that giving shouldn’t be about the givers, but about the receivers. Let’s not focus on the feel-good aspect, for this won’t always be the individual response. I may not feel good about giving, but when I am in a position to give, there are other reasons I still want to give and give again.

Giving is not about us; it’s about who is receiving. It may be common human nature to first think about what we receive when we give, what we gain from the transaction. I think this urge may be a part of our current culture, but that does not mean we can’t improve and condition a different culture. There may be others who also feel the same way. But if I want others to change, I should start this change from myself.

There are others ways to give of yourself, which are more subtle than of giving food or money. When we decide to do more than we are told to do at work, for the sake of improvement, and not just doing the minimum for a paycheck, we are giving something. When we try to teach others so that they can do better, we are giving something. What else do we give ourselves to? Why do we give? Even without receiving, why will we still give?

I think it is important to first give to ourselves, before we can be in a position to give to others. “Take care of yourself” I told Michael. I really, truly mean that. To each of our selves, we must first take care of. I may give to you, so that you can give to you now, so that you don’t need me to give to you later, and maybe eventually you can give to another.

Let’s not rely on what others will give to us. We should each be self-sustainable as Single Players. It’s only once we’ve first learned to Win our own, that we can then Win more together, so that we can Win more for those that have lost.

Culture Change Starts from a Single Player

Culture change can occur when a majority of people decide to do things differently. I won’t focus on discussing this reason for change, since these will tend to occur frequently without much of our directed effort.

Changing culture can also occur when a minority of people decide to do things differently. This minority must be more vocal and forceful than if a majority were to attempt to enact the same change. It is this type of culture change that I will focus on, for this is where a lot more of our effort is required.

First, something needs to be identified with opportunities for improvement. Not every change is an improvement, but every improvement is necessarily a change. Trying to improve some aspect of a culture will necessarily call for change from those within that culture. Proposed change is almost always met with resistance.

So who is going to identify something that can be improved? This proposed change from within a culture must start from the finest minority of that culture: an individual, a Single Player.

It is up to a Single Player to be able to identify and decide that a culture change is required to improve. This is done in spite of what the majority is used to, regardless of what everyone else is saying and doing. A Single Player does not know yet of others who think similarly, who together would be a minority. But if a Single Player chooses not to attempt the improvement themselves, then similarly other like-minded Single Players might choose not to attempt the same improvement.

It is the responsibility of a Single Player to be more vocal and forceful than other players who have no preference, and even more so than other players who prefer to not change. As Single Players, we will find ourselves in this position frequently.

Being able to maintain a minority position on subjects where the majority is either apathetic or negative towards our proposals; this is the strength that is needed.

This is a matter of force of will, of endurance against fatigue, of burdening, of shouldering weight and blame, and of vigilance against our own urge to give up.

This is a matter of being labelled a “Lone Wolf”, of being isolated, and of being ridiculed.

This is a matter of being criticized by many more eyes than our own, where one misstep can send our credibility into the dumpster.

This is a matter where we think we’re improving things for the betterment of all, but others think we just want to change things for our own personal benefit.

How do we combat this in one instance? Can we combat this over multiple instances? How long will it take for us to break? When will we succumb to the inertia of the mass majority?

I think that most easy improvements can be covered by the majority. People will get it right, eventually, hopefully, if they are actually collaborating. But besides the lower-hanging fruit, do we see other ripe opportunities for improvement? These kinds of higher-level improvements would address things closer to the root cause rather than just surface level symptoms. These kinds of improvements often solve or make unnecessary a lot of the lower hanging problems, freeing up more resources for working on other problems. It’s these kinds of improvements that are needed so that we can do better, so that we can Win more, because we need to Win more.

There may be a time when it becomes normal that the majority will drive for improvement with the same emphasis as a focused Single Player. Until that time comes, there will be many losses. As a Single Player, do we stand by and just watch these losses as they occur? Or can we do more? And what can we do more of?

From the Start

I like to play games. I think there are a lot of things I learned and developed through my exposure to games. Games offer a variety of challenges which I can face. Some of these challenges I wouldn’t be able to tackle in “normal everyday living”, and the quantity and variety of challenges over the same time period would also be hard to match. Games offer an entertaining medium through which I can develop new skills, practice them, and learn where I thrive and where I need improvement.

I think I learned the most from single player games. It’s not that I don’t play or don’t recommend multiplayer games; I recognize that there are skills you can pick up from those too. But it’s in a single player game where you alone are faced with challenges. You can figure out pretty quickly what you can and cannot do. In multiplayer games, the struggle can be skipped, missed, or diverted to others. That too can be a useful skill, but that’s not what I think should be a primary mode for approaching challenges. At least for me, it’s through single player games that I’ve acquired a certain degree of self-reliance. There may be certain challenges which can only be faced with multiple players, but first I need to know what my own limitations are. If I don’t know what I could have done on my own, then I may become over-reliant on other players and miss out on the experience I could have gained on my own.

I just talked a lot about games. But this blog isn’t really going to be about games. Unless you consider life just a game. Then maybe we’re on the same level.

I plan on focusing on the idea that people should first learn to live and win more on their own. In a world where people are physically and digitally getting closer and more crowded, it will become even more important to emphasize this idea of first learning to win on your own.

If we each learn how to win on our own, then together we can win even more.