So… it’s probably not obvious since everyone knows me as ‘the astrologer’.
But I’m an avid gamer. I like ‘earthy’, physical board games, and I like ‘airy’, digital video and mobile games.
I had a philosophical moment last week while gaming, and I thought I’d share my insights, since, you know, lots of people are being reflective now about how they’ll spend their 2022, especially with the Air Era transition. (What’s ‘Air Era’? Find out here)
So here’s goes:
Nothing is more boring than wandering around a game world and having no reason to be there.
For those who aren’t gamers, a quest is like a mission to complete. In order to finish a quest, there are items you need to acquire, characters you need to find, places you need to get to.
Good quests give you activities to do, but also forward the storyline, maybe give opportunities to interact with other players, and even introduce you to new skills or functionalities within the game world.
Quests can be assigned by the game, but you can create your own too. For example, I’ve conceptualised an ambitious renovation project for my in-game farm that I’m tackling in phases. This project has me exploring new skills and game aspects that I’ve never tried before.
Quests are different from ‘Dailies’, which is a common nickname for repetitive activities that gamers do on a regular basis, just to maintain their participation. Dailies are necessary, but boring, and if the game consists of just dailies, lots of people quit the game.
In real life, I know lots of people who only do dailies, and have no quests. When they do an occasional quest, it’s set by an authority, and the quest is boring and not optional, so it operates like a daily for them.
The difference is that you can’t just quit, so most people scurry around their real-life world doing boring dailies.
You need a quest.
If your job doesn’t give you a good quest, make up your own!
Forward your storyline, interact with new people, learn a new skill.
Most games come with a short tutorial at the beginning to teach you the basic controls and mechanics.
After that, bro, you’re on your own.
Some game worlds are HUGE, with thousands of items to discover, lands to visit, character storylines to reveal.
It’s daunting, and there isn’t a course to attend to learn it all. In any case some game worlds are constantly changing, with events that start and end erratically. It’s just not possible to keep up with everything that’s going on.
So, many players join a guild. A guild is like a club, where players hang out, set goals, and where a noob (newbie) can ask questions and get guidance from more experienced players. It’s not unusual for a fellow guild member to simply donate to you an item you desperately need.
The best guilds I’ve been in keep fellow members up to date on events in the game world. Players help each other do quests and beat enemies.
The best part? These guys don’t know each other in real life. They just help each other because, you know, we’re all in it together.
I know lots of people who don’t belong to a guild in real life. They try to navigate the world by themselves, and the limited resources they have means that the going is pretty tough. They need help, and there is no one to ask. They have excess resources, but they hoard it and never share it with those who have a genuine use for it.
Join a guild.
Get together with people who are on the same journey you’re on. Hang out, set goals, share resources and the latest news.
You never know, that random stranger may just turn out to be a friend for life.
In games, ‘min-maxing’ is short for ‘minimum effort, maximum result’, and it’s really a very Earth era concept – squeeze every drop out of everything for maximum ROI.
It’s a popular concept in games because, unfortunately, most active gamers now grew up in the Earth era where the definition of success is getting the most amount of money and the highest ranking.
However, a lot of gamers have begun noticing that min-maxing is boring. And incredibly grindy. (For non-gamers: ‘grind’ means doing a very repetitive task over a significant number of times just to accumulate a high quantity of a resource)
There’s always a computable formula, and once you figure out which weapon is the most value-for-resources to craft or which crop to grow nets the highest profit, efficient grinding will get you there.
If you play this way, everyone ends up with the same formula. Every player has the same hero stats, skill tree or farm layout/composition, since there’s always the ultimate optimal way to play.
So everyone ends up grinding for crystals, diamonds, gems or whatever, for many, many hours of their gameplay.
Just like in real life where people spend decades of their life grinding just to keep up with the amount other people have.
Until you realise there are other ways to play.
If you allow yourself to get off min-maxing, there are side quests with great storylines. You can build a fun and beautiful farm instead of one that just generates maximum dollars. You can even design items and upload them onto the game world for others to admire and enjoy.
The Air Era game world is filled with forums and Reddits where players share alternative ways to play, with screenshots that draw admiration and inspire other gamers, and an active modding community where creators add to the game experience for other gamers, often for free.
For the last several decades, money and status were the only measure of a person’s value, and it’s getting tiring now. Playing your life this way makes you a machine, not a player.
And robots can grind better than you can.
If you’re sick of grinding, try an alternative play style. Write great stories. Build relationships rather than piles of gold. Share your creations with others.
Writing this article makes me feel like scheduling more gaming time for myself!
For you, make 2022 a different year. It’s the Air Era – consider playing a different game.
Here’s to your 2022.
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