Okay- while my mind is clear and I have a bit of time, I want to re-approach the ideas of gamification and subjectivization (identity-creation). I anticipate that I will be doing this several times to clear my head. This is the messy stage.
Anything with agents that take action could reasonably be considered to be a game. The education game. The dating game. The identity-creation game. The employment game. The parenting game.
The problem with simplistic ideas of games- and this is most clear in the horrible trainwreck which happened The Game (“Pickup Artistry”) is this erronenous notion that the end-state of any game must be to score as many points as possible. A simplistic view of seduction or PUA is that it’s all about having as much sex with as many women as possible, and it doesn’t matter if you do it in a disrespectful way.
That’s ridiculous, and an insult to all sorts of games and gamers everywhere. A game is simply the condition, the circumstance, the context. It’s up to you how you want to play it, and what “good game” means to you. Some people play simply to score points, but others play because they love the game, and they want to treat it with respect. We intuitively know that sports can be about obsessive winning-at-all-cost, or it can be about “the beautiful game”, sportsmanly conduct, respect, elegance, ballet. I don’t see why it should be any different for seduction, or self-improvement, or anything else you want to “gamify”.
Just because somebody wants to participate in “Quantified Self” doesn’t mean that they want to turn into a number/point obsessed nerd at the expense of all else. These simplistic straw-man ideas are stopping us from really sinking our teeth into the real power of gamification, and maybe it’s unfortunate that the language is the way it is, but I don’t care- I love games and I’m going to use it.
So games are everywhere, everything is a game in the sense that people are players and they can take actions, and there are incentives and rewards. As long as you’re exploring this framework with me I have to constantly remind you of things that you may need to unlearn.
Incentives and rewards don’t have to be simplistic and extrinsic, like points. The idea that you have to give points and achievements to everything is a stupid, frustrating and annoying way of approaching gamification- it’s really myopic and sad, it’s a caricature. I’d say it’s mistaking rituals for principles. Gamification is about creating compelling narratives that people can participate in. Points and trophies are like negs and peacocking- they should be serving something greater than themselves, or they look really ridiculous.
My favourite personal example of gamification in my own life are these word vomits that I’m doing- I decided that I wanted to write a lot, I wanted a significant milestone of some kind that’s tough but surmountable, and so I decided on 1,000,000 words- 1,000 vomits of 1,000 words each. I don’t technically have to build an app for this. Some of the people who read my “productivity app idea” or “cig bum app idea” posts got the impression that I think apps are the solution to everything. I don’t really think I actually think that way. I think I just used those as scaffolding for thought. I agree completely that change comes from within, and that you should ideally be different and feel different and all that stuff… but that’s very hard to do! You can’t change overnight. You need some sort of path. Somebody brought up the Heath brothers and their metaphor of the elephant rider- you are the elephant rider (consciousness, agentic self), riding the elephant (subconscious/non-conscious, non-agentic self, emotions, biases, etc) down some sort of path (circumstances).
Ultimately, the grand goal is simply to write more. Daniel Reeves put it well in one of his blogposts somewhere- something about how it’s a no-brainer that doing pushups are good for you, but at no particular point in time does it make sense to actually do pushups, so you’re unlikely to do it unless there’s something compelling you to- something that reminds you of your purpose. It’s possible that you might’ve internalized that in some sort of internal monologue/narrative, which is great. Or maybe it’s your peer group, or your station in life… but often I think it’s helpful just to have something to build up and return to. I’m reminded of cookie-clicker again. We all want a sense of continuity, don’t we? Even if we delete or discard whatever it is we’ve built- and that might be a very necessary thing for growth to happen, we have some sort of progression narrative going on in our heads. I don’t know about those monks and high-level “detachment” folks, but I’m guessing even their detachment is in a way a part of their personal narrative of growth as a student, the progression from mind to no-mind. Eventually you enter a kind of symbiotic, flowing state where progression as a concept begins to cease having any meaning, but you have to get there before you can start talking about it.
I may have repeated myself here and in previous posts but that’s okay. I don’t expect every single post to contain some sort of original thought, but it’s all part of a longer process of me figuring out what I’m getting at. I think it’s pretty clear to me that I want to work somewhere in this procrastination/productivity/gamification/akrasia space. I don’t like purely recursive models though, like where you become a productivity guru and your idea of work is to talk about productivity. You must have been producing something else on the side. I’d really like to write more and explore the narrative of subjectivization, of what it’s like to create an identity without putting too much thought into it, and then subsequently having to do things that you might not have really wanted to do… I’m developing a sense of the world that’s less rosy and fair than I previously thought.
Meandering into meaningless, mindless drivel. That’s okay. I’ll figure it out post by post. I’m willing to bet I’ll find what I’m sort-of-looking-for by post 150.
Me and the wife were having a conversation about this. When I was 13, I wanted a girlfriend- I didn’t know why in particular, I just thought it would be cool to have one, so I asked a few people, including her, and she agreed. I would then get some insight into what it’s like to be in a relationship of some sort. From my perspective, kids aged 13 and 14 aren’t particularly interested in meaningful shared coexistence and identity co-creation of some sort- we just want to experience puppy-love, to have some sort of companionship without really knowing why we want it. Mostly we want to play grown up, in some sense. You have sexual urges that you want to realize in some way, and you buy into this narrative of having a boyfriend or a girlfriend. The idea of dating the way people in their mid-20s date- coffee and conversation- doesn’t really make very much sense yet.
I wasn’t expecting my relationship to last more than a few months, maybe a year at most. But we had a good 3 year run, and I think we both learned a lot in the process. I’m a little too tired now to really dig into this, but it’s consistent with something my boss likes to say- everything is vague to a degree you don’t realize until you try to make it precise.
Here’s the full quote:
Everything is vague to a degree you do not realize till you have tried to make it precise, and everything precise is so remote from everything that we normally think, that you cannot for a moment suppose that is what we really mean when we say what we think.
— Bertrand Russell
Applies to relationships, too. And thinking, and writing. Which is why I find it so compelling to write- it forces you to make things precise, and the process of doing so is absolutely exhilarating. More tomorrow.