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Life as Roleplaying Game: beyond metaphor


The purpose of those post is to start a discussion on viewing self-betterment/productivity hacking/etc as a role-playing-game-like character advancement process. I have read some places of this idea as a compelling metaphor, but I am considering the value of moving it beyond metaphor, to the point that I am literally creating a "character class" for myself and designing a character sheet, etc.

Below are excerpts of a post by Steve Pavlina ("Personal Development for Smart People") who was someone I read often about a year ago, and I thought some of his advice was at par with the kind I found here on 43Folders. (Aside: over the last year or so, Pavlina has taken a sharp turn toward what I consider to be oddly supernatural concerns ("being a lightworker" and "the Law of Attraction" and stuff like that), so I've stopped following him so closely. But some of his advice is very useful & insightful, regardless.)

"Even skill-based games... involve compelling choices. There are tactical choices as well as training choices. What skills will you seek to develop and when? How much time are you willing to invest? How will you leverage your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses?


"Having been a game designer myself, I found it easy to start seeing life as a game filled with compelling choices. For starters, real life includes all the properties previously mentioned. We’re presented with a wide variety of choices for skill building, resource acquisition, relationships, and more. As we age our decisions tend to become more complex, since childhood priorities no longer hold the same appeal."


"Isn’t it silly that so many of us get caught up in the subgames of life and totally lose sight of the larger game? Have you ever built a level 50 character in some fictional world, overflowing with wealth and radiant superpowers, while your real life character wallows around level 5, apathetic, out of shape, and barely able to pay the bills?"


"If you find yourself in a human body, you came here to play the game of human life. Don’t sit on the sidelines whining like a noob. The truth is that if you lose all your gold, if your teammates dump you, or if your character gets infected by the plague, it’s all part of the game. Every setback initiates another round of compelling choices. The game isn’t supposed to be fair — it’s supposed to be fun and interesting. Whether or not you have a fun and interesting experience largely depends on what kind of player you are."

Read the whole post:

This is my thought: perhaps I can push this beyond a metaphor. I, like I imagine many here, played roleplaying games when I was younger and wrote fiction and invested a lot of time in developing fictional characters, thinking about their life trajectories and how they accumulate skills etc. I have also, of course, invested time in developing my own skill & career &c. However, in my own life I have not approached it as holistically as I have for my 'characters.' It has been more piecemeal: I should work out more or I should learn to meditate or I should go to gradschool or I should learn to play the guitar. Perhaps there is something to be gained by treating myself as one of these characters: explicitly construct a character sheet, skills to accumulate, a 'character class' or whatever. Perhaps this is a way to more effectively transform my life into an exciting and interesting game with explicit direction.

I plan on using this forum as a place to develop this idea. I would also like to pose some questions to the hive mind:

1. Do you think this kind of enterprise might be valuable to you?

2. What aspects of 'roleplaying' or fictional character creation/development would be more or less useful, in your opinion?

3. Have you attempted something like this before?

4. Have you encountered other resources that might be useful for an enterprise like this? Books, websites, posts, etc?


UPDATE: has own page with some updated pdfs now: duus's the modern life as roleplaying game: beyond metaphor.

About duus

duus's picture


duus is an economist and musician who pursues automation of life with GTD, bash scripts, and vigilant mindfulness.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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