When I was a kid, play time was a fairly restricted thing both in time and money. Growing up I wanted to have all the Hot Wheels and Legos but my parents rarely let in. Of course in the end, I joined my generation’s fascination with television and watching as much as I can to fill void between homework and dinner until I knew about the Internet. One of the challenges now as an adult is to find balance between free time, personal development and my profession. Many see their life as work and play, two things people seem to latch on to either sooner or later in life. To me it doesn’t seem quite the simple case.
Like many adulthood-like things, we tend to define definitions; be the definite definition that defines definitely, well you get my point. As a kid you never really had to do that, as you grew everything dials itself into a definition. Fun time becomes play, play then is for enjoyment which can then be experienced when certain tasks are accomplished and time is allotted. We become affixed to sets of rules and conditions which has been placed there to wither hinder having fun or promote efficient work over inefficient play. The difficulty behind this either letting go of play or holding onto play. Many people I’ve seen have either displayed an ordered attitude while some seen off the cuff and free to play.
When it comes enjoyment alone or with groups, we most of the time think about games. Videos games, tabletop games, sports; these are the games we play with no monetary value attached to play. These games each of their set of rules and conditions, how to achieve victory through a means. Sound familiar? Work is a set of rules and conditions to achieve an income through a means. Whether you like it not, both work and play are fairly similar however the difference come back to childhood. It feels like work because you are coerced to be there, much like how your friends take you somewhere you don’t like and the hours seem to last forever.
From the day we are born until we die believe it or not, we are playing a game. Condition being you will have to stay alive and the rules change as you grow up. “If life itself a game, how do I win the game?” To be frank, there is no definitive answer which makes life a hard game to play. With no real victory, people say when you die the game ends. On death, you lose and no one is necessarily a winner. What if death isn’t the end all to this game? What if death is just a a rule? A natural rule where death is the end of your time much like time based games. If so much like timed games, the victory conditions are not when the game ends but how well did you do within the confines of the game. Perhaps life is more like Boggle than it is Monopoly. Perhaps life isn’t how slow or fast you die, but what moves you make and the actions you take.
Without a known victory state within this construct of a game, we tend to see out those who seem to be “good” at playing the game. The successful bunch, the rich bunch, the happy bunch of people who seem to be getting along well in life. Like the games we play, we have to lose some and win some. The experience in losses and gains regardless of the outcome. Much like life, we make choices we regret and actions mistaken but this how we learn. This is how we make our moves accordingly to achieve the means. Maybe life can be the most humbling game for us all to play. We receive one chance to do all the things we can until we die. The only thing stopping us to knowing the victory goal is complexity.
For me, I don’t see myself as money maker, a philanthropist nor a thrill seeker and risk taker. In my heart, I’m a gamer, player of games. In the complex defined rules, I know the end will happen to me as well one day. I have now until that day to find the victory. It’s surely not immortality I seek where indefinite game time is allotted so I can play forever. Though money is a concern, having reserved stacks of funds would do very little for me in the end since death takes away all the personal memories and cash you accumulated. So the winning condition must be what I can do with the time I have. All the accomplishments and actions I take matter regardless of risk. To me, the game of life is just this, to do what we can humanly can; to live our lives. This is our victory condition where we experience the world around us rather than being concerned about the empirical summation of our lives. Our existence makes the difference of what we have achieve and what has yet to be accomplished. Which means life isn’t about a set number of actions or a set goal, but perhaps our own legacy to the world to let the generations of gamers ahead know we have played the game.
We might not “win” the game, but we should surely try and play as well as we can.