Using the RPG Interest for Personal Development
Monday January 25, 2021
One of the things I like to track is the way my personal interests are “directional,” in a metaphorical sense. They reliably provide me with timely and specific clues, clues that point at helpful mindsets or tools for the current situation I’m in.
If you’re ever feeling down, or stressed, or overwhelmed, or just a bit disorganized, this practice can really help.
Today I want to share some examples of how I use the role playing game (RPG) interest as a direction-finder.
1. Decide What The Character Will Do
When I get really interested in RPGs, I like to open my daily journal entry and start a new list. I’ll use this list to decide what my character will do. That character is me, but I’m thinking of myself from the third-person perspective.
Each item on the list starts with “I’d like him to” or “I want him to.” Examples from this last Saturday:
- I want him to enjoy the day.
- I want him to get some rest and then a bit of exercise.
- I want him to monitor funds (trading).
- I want him to do some journaling and read his weekend file.
- I want him to upgrade the router firmware.
- I would love for him to write a backup script for the new system. Or plan it.
These lists are usually different from my first-person ideas. For example, I have been nursing an injury, and I had decided not to do any exercise at all. But my third-person view was, “I want him to get a bit of exercise, even if he can’t do all of them.”
It’s strange, in this way, because the emotional detachment helps to figure out reasonable ways to do things. I also find that I feel less pressure to do tons of things in one day.
Compared to the first-person perspective, this outside-in view is generally much more reasonable about what’s possible or needed.
2. Imagine Favorite Characters, and Ask Them About Their Mission
Usually a specific type of character will come to me through the intuition, and seem more fascinating than usual.
On Saturday it was a tall cyberpunk guy in a long overcoat, with blue hair. He had a blue “chip”, like a diskette which was really important.
I’ve seen him in my mind’s eye before. Usually this guy represents a fusion of emotional and logical / rational needs. He’s productive in the sense that he can handle both ways of being pretty well, and still make progress. He’s usually on a tricky mission that accomplishes a lot, but some up-front breakthrough effort is needed.
I started a new section in my journal, where I could have an intuitive “conversation” with this symbolic voice. As soon as I had jacked into this thinking mode, he started briefing me:
Marc. I have the data chip. We need to get it into the master computer system.
What does the data chip hold?
Numbers. Measurements. Data. Good stuff.
OK (I get it—this is a prompt to make a schedule and track progress). How am I doing.
Good but there is more data, more chips.
Yeah, that’s a big blue data chip. Should I get super-organized?
Yep. Also there is the spreadsheet you made.
I also get the feeling I should get ready for the day? I’m still in my pajamas.
I pulled up a schedule with 15-minute time slots and filled it out.
As soon as I finished that, the interest in this character started to fade. That’s normal. He’s still interesting, but not as fixating.
This process used to be a lot more funny to me. I almost hate to admit it, but now it’s more like a quick and helpful utility—something far more mundane!
The character, the colors I see in my mind, the theme, the data chip—it’s all meaningful, and I’ve long since learned that it has a lot to do with the combination of emotion and rationality that I’ve addressed above.
Essentially, this guy always helps me find a win-win for the day—I do what I need to do, but I also do what’s fun, or interesting, or fulfilling.
There are many characters like this in my files—hundreds of them, easily. Each one seems to signify a new type of conversation or mindset which would be helpful.
3. Develop and Understand the Themes. Or Even Just Ranges and Spaces
It can help to build a personal idea of the subjective “meaning” of a type of game that I’m interested in. For example, low-fantasy role playing games which take place in subterranean caverns have a different meaning in my symbol system than does strategic global warfare.
A big concept here is range and space: How far do the weapons shoot or defend, and how enclosed is the space.
At tight ranges, and in tight spaces, I find that I’m looking at really tight timelines, possibly emergencies. If fighting off a zombie hoard with a baseball bat is really interesting, then there’s a good chance I’ve overbooked myself, for example. It may be that a clever escape (doing some creative schedule-destruction and re-authoring) is a better idea than a continuation of the uneven fight.
At long ranges, and in expansive strategic spaces, I find that the longer timelines, schedules, and goals need my attention. These may seem less-pressing to the inxperienced eye, but if neglected they tend to turn into nuclear apocalypse situations, which are pretty bad across the board.
Some Final Thoughts
The coolest part of this is that it’s so subjective. These symbols can mean just about anything to any individual, and they are infinitely deep. The sets of symbols are more like fractals, begging for exploration and development.
I hope it’s helped to share a basic personal example.
And to my symbolically-axe-wielding, snub nose revolver-loading friends: Hang in there! Build on your strengths and you’ll find a way through.
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