Birth & The Early Years
When a new human is born, they come out as a little level 0; they have no experience, their stats are effectively zero, (they can’t hold or carry anything, they can barely see, their cognitive abilities are almost non-existent, etc.). The more that one lives, the more things they do, the more they experience… We literally use the word experience to refer to everything that comes up in our lives, and it is a direct translation from the world of role-playing games.
The one thing that does already exist/is already present would be their natural bonuses (a la racial bonuses in D&D), which we would refer to as their genetics. Some of these things, like skin/eye/hair color, are pretty well set from the beginning, and it’s simply a matter of watching them unfold as the person grows & matures. There is another level of natural bonus, one that starts of dormant, and tend to stay that way unless they are activated at some point in life. If your parents were painters, you will most likely have a natural bonus to painting, but if you never pick up a brush, it will never be activated. It could, however, still offer a general bonus to artistry, or creative thinking. The same can go for “negative” attributes; if much of your lineage has been alcoholics, you have a higher likelihood of the same. If you never taste a drop of alcohol, then obviously that will never be activated. We refer to this balance between nature (what you’re born with) and nurture (what happens while you’re here) as epigenetics.
Unfortunately for many players, in most metas on the planet right now, the first 18 (+/- a few) years of character development are generally controlled by the parent players, in conjunction with school or public education. The problem with having your parent players do so much of the decision-making for you is manifold. First, you should have control of your own character; second, parent players are often repeating behavior patterns that traumatized them, thus passing those traumas onto you, the player. This is a blessing and a curse, as every trauma contains the possibility to heal & integrate that trauma, strengthening you and others who you share your journey with.
Public education is 13+ year long quest-line created by many of the larger guilds on Earth, which they force players living within their claimed zones to send their children to. Though players in school do have a lot of opportunity to train their social, physical, and intellectual, the main purpose of the questline is to attempt to convince players to choose main storylines that would effectively render them NPCs, setting aside their own desires, goals, joys and dedicating their lives to farming in-game currency, following external programming, and effectively checking out of the game. This system was created very intentionally, and has caused many players to give up on the game over the last few hundred years, but we are quickly approaching the end of that paradigm.
Inventory, Stuff, and Attachment
Whenever I log back into an old account on Guild Wars, SW:TOR, etc, I am always a little taken aback and a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff in my bank/inventory. Crafting materials, equipment for later levels, consumables, and all sorts of trophies & holiday items sprawled across the screen. Luckily, most games greatly limit inventory space (by slots, allowed weights, et al.) and bank space (sometimes with upgrades available to buy or using little tricks like storing things inside Diablo 2’s Horadric cube).
Interestingly, most of my characters have far more belongings than I do in real life, where I limit myself to what I can fit in the backpacks (one full-size camping pack & one day pack) that I carry with me. As in a game with limited inventory space (or rather one with a weight limitation), I actually have to carry everything I want to have with me. This necessity has helped me greatly reduce the number of items I “own”, the things that I find important to have around, and it encourages gifting the people I interact with many of the things I pick up along the way, if they show an interest in them.
Many RPGs, especially MMOs, build into the design little quirks to incentivize people to hoard gear. From unique skins, to limited numbers, to soul/account-bound gear that literally cannot be given to other players, these little details promote an attachment to and desire for physical belongings. Let’s say you finally have that legendary weapon you spent weeks (months) crafting, or only managed to get after your 1000th time clearing a dungeon AND winning a role against the two other party members who could use it.Chances are, even if you upgrade to something else later, you’ll still hold onto it, simply because of an attachment to the item itself. Whatever examples of this show up in RPGs, they are nothing compared to the way it is currently promoted in Real Life. People are convinced through advertising, holidays, ideas embedded in entertainment, and cultural norms, that collecting lots of “stuff” is an admirable thing, a way of measuring success.
These are two (work-in-porgress) sections of a book that I've been creating & sharing for some time; I am open to your insights, questions, and recommendations. To see full breakdown of the project so far, please see: The Status, Vision, and Needs of 'Real Life: The Role-Playing Game"
This project is something that is extremely important to me, something I have felt called for SO LONG to create, and I am overjoyed to be opening the container and getting input from other creators as well! If this feels exciting and empowering to you, I'd love to have you involved!
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