A wise man once said, “life is an MMORPG on hardcore mode; you cannot succeed trying to play it alone and you only get to play it once.” Like it or not, we live in a world of worlds now. The possibilities are beautiful and terrifying. While we have whole new mediums of expression and experience partially unbound from the limits of objective reality, so too are we confronted with the classic temptation to avoid the struggle of life for the pursuit of mere gratification. Worse of all, in my humble opinion this week, we are failing to engage a very harmful idea that life can be “played” in only the first-person perspective. I will confront this idea by elaborating on what I mean as it relates to the spectrum of experience from video games most specifically to human experience and behavior most generally, making some stops along the way to consider some relevant ideologies to the central idea: the real power of the human mind is not self-awareness, but social-intelligence.
So first, let’s make sure the non-gamers know what I’m talking about. There are many very different kinds of video games. Here: I primarily want to compare the experiences and resulting inferences and behaviors of two categories of them: multiplayer games played with other people and solo games played by oneself. The key difference between them then should mostly be intuitively obvious. In a single-player game, every aspect of the experience is coded and tailored for the perspective of the individual, whereas, the multi-player game of any kind is processing the inputs of many people and mediating the results back to all those players. One offers an open opportunity to leave reality behind while the other has to more objectively model reality with its subjective experiences in a more objective space. I want to be clear: I love single-player games. I am not criticizing them. What I seek to critically consider here is some of the culture and personal reactions to this format and how to address that intelligently.
So we have the individual. In many ways he or she is capable of independent survival in a hostile world, at least for a time. We think for ourselves, eat our own food and digest it. We have our own eyes and ears and so on. We are each slight variations on the same general model which is self-contained as an organism in an ecosystem. Even better, up to a point we are each capable of adapting to a wide variety of ecosystems and aren’t bound to too specific a niche in any of them. We are usually mobile and self-possessed. The human being is a marvelous thing on its own. However, we are also each small and fragile in the grand scheme. We don’t live extra long or avoid disease or accidents or disasters. In so many humbling ways any one of us can fail any time and there is yet no real evidence that the universe cares at all so as to not gobble us up in its maw and turn our matter and energy over to any other organism or process in it.
How then has humanity seemed to take over the planet Earth?
Though each CAN function as one individual to survive, anyone who has experienced a true team can tell you that we really thrive together. When each of us can focus one a narrower set of tasks and really apply our full energy and intuition and insight to them without worrying about the other factors beyond our zone of action, then we can all perform much better than any of us could have doing it all ourselves. On one hand, this is grade-school stuff, but on the other it is the secret to happiness and success in life above all else.
It’s not even just what the process of team work produces, but the security of knowing that if effort is given for a time there will be time, energy, and resources to spare, even for unfortunate turns of events. This is a happiness and freedom that can’t really be had any other way. We are wired from thousands of years of success in a harsh, cold world to appreciate each other, seek each, other, learn of each other and ourselves and act together. I can say from experience that people who care for and trust each other can take on complex tasks under pressure with striking efficiency to the point words are almost an afterthought all together. This isn’t something possible when driven by basic individual greed. It’s so much more than that. It takes understanding of circumstances, the task at hand, compassion and knowledge of each other, and a commitment to focus totally on the shared goal and meeting the requirements of one’s role in doing it. This is social-intelligence.
I fear that the single biggest issue in American society and perhaps every modern, industrial society is that the trappings of wealth and power from the success of thousands of generations has left us doubting whether this is still the way or not. However, I have faith that everything that is still truly good in our world does in fact come back to this phenomena of people loving each other and working together, only our culture has been influenced somewhat to accommodate alternative approaches which give the false appearance of even better results. Of these approaches I only feel the need to mention this one judgment on them: they lack soul, and that should tell a moral person all they need to know to see how they can be improved by returning to the original human way of cooperation.
So to close I want to ask for help with an experiment: I suspect that I can’t see all the ways my writing of this post could be improved, so by all means tell me how I could make it better. Call me on my grammar, ideas or whatever you think could add to the quality of the post. Maybe I use too any words to say what I’ve said. If you write, then share a link or info to look it up, and I’ll be happy to do the same. Not required, just an offer. I want to write more and the challenge I have found is that I don’t know a lot of other writers well to keep my mind in that game and find the motivation to keep it up consistently with improvements.
It’s a journey like everything else, so I might as well say hello to my fellow travelers. That’s how I want to avoid the first-person fallacy.