Recently I’ve been playing a MMOFPS (massively multiplayer online first-person shooter) game. It counts as research into virtuality and helps me to conceptualize certain real-world topics with game-world simplicity. A first-person shooter is a genre in which you blast other players with projectiles, and in this case you compete against other players from around the globe in real-time battles. I don’t have too much experience with MMOFPS games, but I’d liken the concept to a game of tag, except everyone is “it”, so everyone tries to tag everyone else (unless it’s team mode, then two teams attempt to tag one another).
This particular game was a struggle at the start because the controls were cumbersome and took me awhile to get used to. I was getting blasted left and right. But once you get blasted, you respawn within the same game and just keep at it. I struggled at the lower levels for awhile and often leveled-up by using more non-confrontational methods such as entering arenas against slow-moving NPC (non-player character) enemies. But eventually I got better and was able to hold my own against other real-time players, if not dominate in certain circumstances.
Again, I’m explaining all this because I’ll be using it as a foundation to discuss real-world concepts using game-world simplicity. For instance, I don’t enjoy matches that are too easy, I now appreciate my opponents and the close battles. And I also wouldn’t be relishing my current dominance if I hadn’t been repeatedly squashed like a bug so many times before. The game makes it apparent that actual existence cannot be too easy or else we simply wouldn’t enjoy it, we’re only satisfied through struggle. Not in a masochistic sense, but just a perspective sense, we need to see the bottom to fully appreciate the top.
During several unsuccessful periods in the game, I wanted to quit, never to return. I hated it, yet I was pulled back and stuck it out. Eventually I found a groove and started having fun. In actual existence I don’t feel like I’ve found that groove yet, but I’d say my gaming experience helps me to understand the totality of the path. A game without obstacles is not entertaining. And the games that provide the fullest most immersive experiences are the ones that keep us on the precipice of defeat. But once mastery kicks in, we can sit back a bit and appreciate the game in a different way.
When our skill-attributes are to their max, it can be fun to turn the tide of battle with a mere flick of the wrist. Or, help newcomers that wouldn’t fare well without a guiding hand. Or, purposefully limit ourselves to weaker tools and master new ways of doing things. But it takes a self-discipline to design and maintain our own fun I think. The easier route is to lose yourself to the game and let a narrative lead the way — but this can get too intense. I tend to get too wrapped up in narratives so I’m constantly reminding myself not to take things too seriously.
For the rest of my real-world gaming experience, I think I’d like to level-up to mastery-mode. Where whatever I do just works. Where resources flow freely. Where my presence is appreciated. Where teammates always have my back. I’ve been on the losing team long enough I think. I get it. I can clearly conceptualize a broken world. I can quite easily imagine tales of lack and suffering and injustice, but now I want my thoughts filled with fellowship and fun, experiencing the greatness of what life has to offer.