So one of my passionate interests is awakening, waking up from the sleep induced by the cultural held and transmitted beliefs about what I am, to directly face experience and stand as I actually am. To proceed through life from that point, rather than from some assumed point based on the words of others.
This sort of consideration is usually called spiritual. So, my interest has lead me to explore the spiritual cultural landscape.
One of the seemingly widespread beliefs in the modern spiritual realm casts life and reality as a vast game with no actual players. The (not exclusively) Buddhist teachings of no self get conflated with Cartesian/mechanistic world views to produce this image of a vast game board with pieces moving according to set rules with no one directing the movement beyond the rules.
I can’t ascribe to that model. My long career as a gamer puts forth another image. I imagine it more like a table with players moving their pieces according to the rules, but that the players tend to be hyper-focused. Generally, they get so engrossed by the game and the apparent rules that they get stuck into the grooves of that system. They lose the capacity to try something new. Get up and stretch. Try a different game. Create their own house rules. Take a break for a moment. Go to the kitchen and grab a Mountain Dew.*
The other concept that comes along with this vision for me is a distinction that a co-worker taught me once. (Thanks, Dan!) It’s the difference between convergent and emergent games.
In a convergent game, you are headed to a known conclusion. Like solitaire. At some point, you win by getting all your cards stacked in neat suite piles. Or, you lose by getting stuck with no moves to make. There is a feeling of relief at the end of a convergent game, regardless of the outcome. The tension of playing the game is released by its conclusion. You may immediately decide to play again, but part of the tension created by playing the game is released.
In contrary, emergent games have no end. Playing leads to more playing. It’s an exercise that may have goals along the way, but has no real end in sight.
What’s interesting to me here is how convergent games can get morphed into emergent games quite easily. Take chess for example. For an individual game, there are three possible outcomes. One of the two players wins. The game comes to a draw. However, the game space of chess is mathematically nearly limitless. There are always new strategies and tactics to explore. Also, there are always new opponents to face. Tournaments to win. Rankings to achieve.
*NOTE: I don’t like Mountain Dew. I would be more likely to grab a beer. But, mentioning Mountain Dew was too good of an inside joke to pass up. ;
What do you think? Do you have any models of gaming you apply to life? Did you like the post? Let me know in the comments below, and if you think your community would enjoy it, please spread the post around. Cheers!
Hat tip to Plato and his Cave. 😉