Tuesday, January 24, 2017

How we find motivation in Life as in Games ft. 'Game Frame' by Aaron Dignan

Being a dilettante I've always wondered about motivations. I know I'm a fan of novelty, It's why I enjoy travel and have skimmed through several hobbies. I've dabbled with parkour, BJJ and dragon boat racing among others.
Most recently I've been big into board games. A component of that scene is perpetually trying out new games. I know almost immediately whether I'll enjoy a game in the first few stages of play. I don't find worker placement (aka action drafting) as engaging as social deduction (aka bluffing) games. I struggle as it is finding value in amassing wealth and resources in real life. Simulating such in a game only sets off an existential crisis. Deception games on the other hand play into my fascination with social interaction and charisma. The imperative to survive and not lose face in front of friends and strangers is a compelling one. As a fan of politics & pro-wrestling and an avid watcher of 'Survivor', this genre has given me a taste of that world in a fun setting.

I have a preference for casual games and was starting to wonder why. I realised that if I could ascertain what it was I liked in board games, I could better understand my wiring and thus inform my approach to career and other pursuits. 'Game Frame' by Aaron Dignan illuminates the appeal of games through behavioral psychology. Here he explains the two conditions we face when embarking on a new challenge:
'Game Frame' by Aaron Dignan 
Game Frame Using: Games as a Strategy for Success
Lack of Volition. Volition is the will to do something; the motivation and internal drive to see it through. Any kind of proactive or ambitious behavior is evidence of strong volition. People who lack volition feel lost, bored, or disconnected from the task at hand. They can't see why an activity or behavior is worthwhile. A lack of volition is defined by disinterest, low involvement, and arrested development. An individual lacking volition says, "I'm not going to do that. Why would I? What's in it for me?"

Lack of Faculty. Faculty is the belief that we have the skills and tools to handle the challenges we're facing; that we know how to begin and have the confidence to pursue our goals. People who lack faculty in a particular situation may feel that it's too hard, or that it's unclear what they need to do to succeed. A lack of faculty is defined by anxiety, submission, and ultimately, despair. An individual lacking faculty says, "I can't do this. I'm not prepared. I don't know how."
Its a straightforward summation of the dichotomy we face when trying something new. Hitting the point home with a Joseph Campbell reference, Dignan illustrates the edge game's have over ordinary life.
One of the reasons we love games is because they instantly place us on our own hero's journey, and from the comfort (and safety) of our living room. There's something tremendously satisfying about playing out an archetypal struggle in which each of us, for the duration of the game at least, is the chosen one. Unlike so many other settings where seemingly meaningless and repetitive tasks frustrate us, in games we are at one with our story... Being part of a story, and one in which we know we're expected to prevail, plays to our sense of volition and faculty beautifully. We come to desire the victory that story presupposes, and we simply must find a way to win.
Games' afoot in Houston
This blog is on the analogy that Life is one big video game, that we do live in the "Matrix". It seems through board games I've just found an analog version of the simulation echo.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Weezer, The Get Up Kids and Morrissey: On the right to be alone

Some of my oldest band tees include a shirt from 'The Get Up Kids', picked up at the second gig I ever went to and a Pinkerton 'Weezer' shirt. Craig Schuftan in his book detailing the hidden roots of Rock & Roll references both bands to describe why some unwittingly remain alone.
'Hey, Nietzsche! Leave them kids alone' (2009)
by Craig Schuftan
Hey, Nietzsche! Leave them kids alone: The Romantic movement, rock and roll, and the end of civilisation as we know it
In 'Why Bother?' the singer thinks about finding a girlfriend, but finds insufficient grounds for action. It's like a super-pessimistic version of Wham!'s 'Last Christmas'. Before he's even picked up the phone he's reasoned his way to the following summer, when she'll no doubt dump him and break his heart. So he remains alone. The singer has proved his intelligence while ensuring that he remains miserable. This line of thinking leads to greater and greater inertia -- taken to its logical conclusion, the singer must renounce the search for happiness entirely and derive whatever kicks he can from monkish self-denial...

The Get Up Kids are one of the scores of bands who followed the example of Pinkerton, exploring the lonely landscape Weezer had discovered long after Cuomo himself had moved on. In the Get Up Kids' 'I'm a Loner, Dottie, a Rebel', the hero tells us that last night he was in love, and that the possibility is still there. But sitting by the girl's bedside in the morning, he reasons his way out of whatever future they might have together. 'I'm afraid to try,' he admits, 'I'll keep my hands by my side.' A real man, a natural man (a jock, a Limp Bizkit fan) would do something. But for the Get Up Kids and their fans, this kind of 'action' is deeply suspect... the heroes of the scene tend to be of the static, intellectual type.

Morrissey, in his songs, demands the right to be miserable and alone. This doesn't sound like too much to ask -- but the world keeps telling him he has to cheer up and get over it... And since he steadfastly refuses to do this, his position has, over the years, become more and more entrenched. What started out as a polite request has turned into a war of attrition... The world has refused to accept his personality. No wonder he's determined not to give up the fight. In this war, what's at stake is nothing less than the human soul.