Reading more from this neat little book called "World of Warcraft and Philosophy", me and Leala came across some interesting terms. Of course, I am not pretending to "get" what all of this means, being that I haven't read it all. Something like philosophy likes to come around just to bite itself in the ass (because that's, like, smart and thinky) so I will take this section of the book as it is and hope that later some armchair philosopher won't comment "Yer such a newb! You can't say that in philosophy!"
The term I am talking about is from Nietzsche: the Overman. According to the book: "..the Overman is to man what man is to ape." I am sure that you have guessed as soon as you read that that I consider myself an "overman," because I do in some ways. The difference is that I do not see an Overman as some kind of super-hero, using his altered awareness of the universe to solve crimes and to theorize his way to a fat bank account. I actually see an Overman, as explained by this small book, as someone that thinks he might be something more than he is, but still might be onto something.
Let me give this definition, out of Nietzsche's mouth/words/book:
"Let us therefor limit ourselves to the purification of our opinions and valuations and to the creation of our own new tables of what is good....We, however, want to become those we are - human beings who are new, unique, incomparable, who gives themselves laws, who create themselves."
My own Immersion Project rules could easily be seen as creating a set of laws for myself, but something isn't right. "Nietzsche's Overman, remember, sees the world as meaningless but creates his own values anyway, in the face of the uncaring universe." Going on in the book, it explains how Nietzsche sees art as something very valuable, to the point that your life should be seen as a work of art. To see the meaningless of life (and of the game) and to create something anyway is to become an Overman.
OK, OK, hang on a second. I am not sure I am explaining this correctly. To be honest, let me just take my spin on it. I don't give a damn about Nietzsche if it means that I would have to put away my thoughts on the matter. I don't care what any rule or law says, I will always have my own take on it. Here it is, as laid out within the steps to becoming somehow more aware. (I think.):
1) Life is meaningless: I agree with this part. Well, I should say that it is if you choose it to be, in which case it will be. In the grand scale of things (according to some of philosophy) we are but "..tiny specks in the Universe". While I mostly agree, I think that this is not only ignorant to say but also very possibly wrong. If you are a "man or woman of science" and you automatically presume that you know that we are but specks in this universe, then you are just as (possibly) blind as the religious nut that thinks that we come only from the Heavens. I would rather say "Life is as meaningless as you make it." Also, for all we know, we might be the pinnacle of creation..the end result of everything. There might not be something else out there, we being the high end of the scale of life. Maybe life is meaningless to an ant, but what if we are the Gods?
2) Enter the games' "Magic Circle": The magic circle, from what I gather, is an acceptance of the rules and goals that the game has laid out for us. While I think that this "magic circle" might hold some value for many people, I am not one of those. There are goals lined out by the mechanics of the game (level up, gain treasure, become powerful) but just because other goals are not defined exactly by popular demand does not mean that they are not goals. Within real life, for example, people have all sorts of goals that have value.And within the game, there are numerous goals that are possible within the game. The game might be a box with limited boundaries, but with a little imagination you might find that those boundaries are plenty large enough for many goals of your own choosing.
3) Dissolve the "Magic Circle", realize that WoW itself (or whatever game) is meaningless: This is easy enough, and I have been doing this from day one within games. While I can definitely enjoy a game (obviously), I enjoy the game only because it is a game. If it were real life placing me squarely in front of danger every night, I would not be enjoying myself. Hell, I have nightmares about my DOGS becoming sick or injured, and I cannot stand it when I lose a house plant. WoW IS meaningless, as are all games. They do serve some purposes, but in the end the whole action is meaningless.
4) Play WoW despite of it's meaninglessness, affirm your existence within the game, create your toon as a work of art: "Work of Art?" I like that. No, not because I consider myself an artist, but because almost everything I do is built for a reaction, or to create something else. Nietzsche was very very fond of art and saw it as something almost holy from what I can tell, so I can see what he is talking about here. Lift your toon up as something that is a reaction to the meaninglessness of the game, or as something created as art despite the meaninglessness of the game.
5) Appreciate the analogy between WoW (or whatever game) and real life, affirm your existence in reality, create yourself as a work of art: This is what my Immersion Project has been trying to do for a long time. This book has given me some ways to explain the project better. I don't role-play to create a character that is other than myself, I create a character and role-play as though the character IS myself, minus a few of my "this world" hang-ups.
In example, I used a real life map for my Vanguard chapter of the Immersion Project. I found some great blank maps at high res, printed them out and would mark my way. Soon, I had a stack of 3 maps that had my writing (as well as writing from other people that knew where some areas were) all over them. I would use those maps and even disabled the in-game map so that, when I was lost, I would point my characters eyes to the sun or moon to judge what direction I was facing, would maybe look for a landmark or two, and would find my way. I would find myself, in real life, doing what my character would do. Or it could be seen as my character doing exactly what I would have done in that situation: consulting a real map with my writing on it. The game was based in a "time" or world that said that maps were reality, not GPS enabled cell-phones or the Internet.
This was a reaction to the complete boredom I felt when considering doing what is "expected" of my character, to achieve great things. Everyone else was off achieving great things, so why didn't I? Well, it was repetitious (like real life) and was the same activity that everyone else was doing. If I followed that same path (a ranger), then eventually I would be the exact same as any other ranger in the game. Even in a game like Fallen Earth or Ryzom, with their "Skill-based" open-ended character creation, players would often follow "templates" to achieve the maximum DPS or perfect heal spell combination.I would rather be weak and unique, rather than powerful and a carbon-copy.
So, I decided to make my own reality, one in which my character stopped leveling at level 32 (which he did, using a "Stop XP" spell that the game has) and in one that he did things that no other gamer or character in the game did.
I wanted the game to reflect my reality, the way I lived, and maybe that gave me some comfort when confronted with the "meaningless" of life?
Now, let me say that while I do believe life is basically meaningless, and that everything that you can dream of has probably been said or has been done before, I do not believe that you should give in to the meaninglessness and go on your way. In a way, I am envious of people that do this and do not mean in any way to come across as though I am proud of my inability to do the same ole' same ole', and I would love it if I had the single-mindedness I had when I was a 12 year old that did nothing literally all day but draw.If I had more of an ability to grind through things, I would admittedly get more things done in real life and in my gaming life.
Still, I am glad I have discovered this possibility: that I am simply trying to find these connections between all aspects of my life (my gaming, my writing, my art, my family) and trying to reflect that through a series of rules, in my gaming.
To sum up, my lack of staying power with any one project is depressing. I can't get much done, and that effects me in my real life. This is the number one reason I do not want to ever have children (and we have discussed it and never will), my inability to see things through. Recently, however, I have discovered that within the last few years I have actually continued to "keep this up", this blogging, gaming, podcasting...this existence within these virtual worlds. But I have done it using my own way and my own set of rules. This gives me hope that someday what I do will have some impact on the world, and maybe in a very long stretch of the imagination, this will one day morph into a way to actually help people.
So, have I achieved "Overman" status? I would like to say YES, but to be honest it is not something I would claim proudly. Just like the diner scene in Pulp Fiction, when Vincent is talking to Jules about Jules' recent decision to "walk the Earth," Vincent says:
"No, Jules. You decided to be a bum."
But, I like the part of the book that says that many people get stuck on any step of this realization. Many get stuck on the "Realize life is meaningless" part, and get stuck wallowing in nihilism, without ever finding meaning in anything. I am pretty close to that sometimes, but I believe it's just some kind of nerd equivalent of a mid-life crisis. Within the last few years (and especially the last year) I have become much more concerned about my mortality and about the fact that, when I go, it is possible that I made no difference in anyone's life other than my family and loved ones.That is so out of character for me, I am always the one that lived life to the fullest since I was a child. I am always the last one to get down about anything, and I have always done what I wanted and found meaning in so much.
But maybe the slight depression doesn't come from thinking that everything is meaningless, but from the fact that I am not doing enough despite that fact, that I could always do more that would show my life as something unique in the end.
And I hope to not offend anyone here, but I think that many people (I am not saying all before you comment! lol) when confronted with this meaninglessness of life, decide to let life dictate the meaning to them. They have children, pursue a career that have settled for, or give in to the tedious things.
So maybe this Immersion Project, and this last 2 years have been my attempt to find meaning in the meaninglessness, or to at least tell the meaninglessness to fuck off.
Ugh...who knows. Maybe I should go grab a latte and stroke my goatee down at the Starbucks. (I keed I keed.)