Saturday, May 29, 2010

Life: The Game Of Perception

The Unilateral Perspective

I want you to think about games you've played or seen in the past. You know the type, anything from games for the Nintendo on to the PS3 and Wii. Games where there is only one perspective at all times, and that is your own, despite what character is in play or what scenario is being played out at any given time. It's all about you and your connection with the game. It is a singular focus, or a unilateral perspective, despite the many scenarios and adventures, despite the different games or their generations.

If you have played any of these games, it conjures up memories, doesn't it? It takes you back to a moment in your life when you were someone else and the decisions you made had no impact on your real life, and all the impact in the world in the realm of the game you were focused on.

What you didn't realize, I'll bet, is that life is much like that. Mmm....yeah, life is like a game. We walk through our daily lives with singular focus, most of the time, on how things touch us and impact us on an emotional, physical, cognitive, and spiritual level. And we do this with every step we take, every choice we make, and every action we choose, and every interaction we encounter.

Much like the game, each of these things, choices and interactions, have an impact on what will happen next and how one cumulative experience will play out. And we generally do this by weighing our options. Is something worth doing, even if it has a bad result? Will this benefit me in some way to make it worth doing? Questions like that tend to play through our minds even when we do not consciously realize we are weighing our options. And just like in a single perspective game, much of what results from those choices, comes directly from you and your perception.

The Multilateral Perspective

Now I want you to think about another kind of game, where in hundreds to thousands of people are playing at any given time. Its called an Mmorpg game or Massively multiplayer online role-playing game, which if you couldn't tell from the name, is defined as a genre of computer role-playing games in which a very large number of players interact with one another within a virtual game world.

If you Google the term Mmorpg games, what you'll find is about 16,300,000 results for them (but that number is obviously subject to change at any time). Imagine how many countless game universes are out there. And with all of those virtual universes out there, imagine the choices you can make in the person you want to be. For that matter, imagine the massive amount of people you will randomly encounter within those worlds: some you might befriend, some you might meet randomly, some you might fight with, and some you might be partnered with to battle other foes. The list goes on and on, doesn't it? It's almost mind boggling.

But there is a point to this. This kind of game, as opposed to the singular focus and the unilateral perspective of the first type of game, is a multilateral perspective with a broadened focus base, because there is direct interaction between different players, who unlike the other kind of game were computer generated with preset conversations ready in hand, are backed up by real people who have their own unique points of view to add to the whole of that virtual world. That's a mouthful, I know. So, let's look at it a different way.

This kind of game can also be applied to real life, because even as we go about our daily lives it's not just our own point of view that makes up the whole of the world around us. The person next door has a point of view. Your partner, friends, and even family members, have their own perspectives, as well. And these are unique unto themselves, being completely separate from yours. When these differing points of view converge, be it in the real world or a virtual one, there can be anything from total agreement to outright disagreement.

So you see, within the game even if you change what you are wearing, change your occupation, change your face, change your gender, change your race or even your species, beneath it you are still you and you are still interacting with other people. And we, as a species, are quite adept at wearing masks, be them virtual or psychological. Today I could be a male soldier shooting at zombies and tomorrow when I enter the real world and interact with real people, I could be the the most compliant of people, molding myself to fit the situation I am in.

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139–143

Life: The Game of Perception

If life is a game of perception, the world a stage, and all its people merely players, how boring life would be. While its true that life is all about perception, singular and shared, there is more to life than merely that alone. And if the world is nothing more than a stage for players to enact their scripts upon, how little does it truly speak about the people enacting them? Because life is not scripted. Life is not just what you or a group of people perceive alone.

And while we play a myriad of roles in this lifetime, beneath all of those faces...those masks, there is still you....the real you. And that person dwells beyond games, beyond perceptions, and beyond scripts and is much more than a mask or a player. Who is that person really, I wonder?

And yes, life is indeed like a game, but how much they reflect one another...well that's up to you and your perception, isn't it?

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