Whenever you feel like you’re left out of the game understand this: you are in the game all right, it’s just that you’re not playable.
This idea got to me from a comic:
I saw this a while ago and it stuck with me. Surely, the reason for which I remembered this comic is because I am eaten on the inside by this anxiety, and have started to make sense of it in my own terms. First, I noticed how I am virtually encapsulated in a membrane of fellow humans who act like depressed laymen moving up, down, right, left like a robot, following all kinds of things that have been repeated to them ever since their birth.
This membrane is what holds things in place. We all like to blame superior powers that overwhelm us, some of us even fail into the ego trap of believing our own paranoia, that the government or aliens or secret brotherhoods target one individually, or that the police is the root of all evil or the mafia which controls everything. Sweeping generalizations distorting the reality of yourself being the true gatekeeper of the social order.
You. Not the masonry, not the Bilderberg group, not the Trilateral commission. You. There are thousands of groups in this world, each with their own agenda. From the association of moms who made the mayor approve a parking space in front of the old school, to think tanks and discussion groups of wealthy and influential men, there is always a conspiracy going on. Because, essentially, every conspiracy theory ever discussed is subjectively true. That is precisely why they don’t matter. But you matter. I matter.
You and I are what holds the mirage of our current civilization, working and healthy. We show up to do exactly what it is expected of us. Humans act in scripted ways and execute precisely ordered actions for the pleasure of gulping mouthfuls of social acceptance and identity confirmation. It is in our nature, it is normal, it is not shameful and it is being exploited against us for thousands of years.
Do you remember how imaginary games compounded on context when you were a child? How a stick became a sword, a group of stick bearing friends became an entire army, or a backyard unattended to for years morphed into an unexplored jungle? I sure do, and I sure see how this is exactly what everyone is doing their entire life: they squint their eyes and start seeing in the blurred image whatever makes the indifferent world around filled with meaning. So do I.
That is what we do our entire life, we play games. We play the family game, we play the work game, we play the vacation game, we play the neighbor game, we play the friend game. But we don’t see it. We are blind to the setting because of the dreaded thing that makes a human be a grownup: consequences.
Growing up is the process of acknowledging consequences.
Consequences keep us entangled in the rules of all the games we’re playing. Which is not bad in itself, it is just that we didn’t make the rules.
As a child I noticed that only those who made up the game rules were actually playing. All the rest of us were props, side kicks, helpers in the advancement of the plot. Sure, no victim here. There were countless of times when I was the rule maker, when I was the cheater who carved the game in the game, when I was feeling like the captain of the ship. But then as time passed by, as my bones stopped growing at the same rate, as the depth of my feelings got more and more mysterious, consequences started to appear and before you know it my games were no longer playable.
Because, you see, when we enter life we spawn into a game we have no control on. All those childhood games were the tutorial, the easy mode on. As grown ups the tutorial ends and you start the real game, the all encompassing game of games: a worthy life. However, the real game is made by other people, people I don’t know today and people who died long ago and secured their lineage the power slot in the game of making a worthy life. And just like with children, only those who make the rules actually play the game.
For the average human, the game of adulthood is created by generations on top of generations of people wielding power. The goal is simple, to preserve the power, because the power is the ability to make up the rules. If you happen to be out of the rule making caste, well tough luck: you get consequences. Consequences that put you in prop or plot advancement or non playable character mode, all up until the vitality of adulthood leaves and you’re sidetracked on the line of spectator mode.
Country is a game and citizens are plot advancement devices, awarded ceremonial power to pretend they decide their government, laws or wars.
Economy is a game, where humans are props that provide the “basic means of production”: work and land. In the economy game the top and bottom of the average is separated by a huge gap in perceived value, but no matter the worth assigned to them in the game, they’re simply support items for enforcing the rules of the game. Capitalism is a type of economy game, a system that makes the game more fun for those who own the capital.
These things are not reactionary, they are not libertarian or anarchist or socialist ideas. Socialism is a game where being a non playable character is the highest goal. Anarchy is a game where everyone becomes a sidekick of one of the rule makers, because in the game of anarchy you’ll have that riot when groups of children play different games on the same playground.
Remember, only those who make the rules actually play.
There is nothing wrong in being a side kick, or a great prop, or a smart and fabulous plot advancement device. It is perfectly human. The point here is to understand that there is no grand scheme which is beyond understanding. That is what the rule makers like to tout when their systems are doubted. Look at children again, will one ever try to question the order in hide and seek his entire background is doubted: who are you to change the game “we all know”. Which is the next illusion: that we’re all involved.
When you or I were born, we didn’t know anything. We didn’t want much other than food, water, comfort and sleep. At a basic level this configuration of desire will be with us our entire lives. But being a blank canvas the tutorial companions (parents, friends of parents, parents of parents, teachers, strangers) have drawn on us the shape to fit in the puzzle where you were supposed to fit in. No one is to blame. The point is another: nobody knows anything. It is all a game.
Except politics. Politics is the management of life which empowers our survival. Politics is what makes the game possible. No dead humans played a game ever.
We are not in a rigged economy. The system is not rigged. We are simply in a game without any power, hence without any rules made by us.
Nobody wants you to suffer, everybody in the rule making caste simply wants to win, and all that every winner only ever wanted is the game to keep going.
So, to get playing again, like when we were children, we either carve a game in the game and start winning at that, or we leave the game and assume the ascetic dryness of that option, or we have a collective epiphany of our non playable character roles and start talking about it. None of these happen as mainstream events because this is what both winning children, cheating children and rule making adults exploit: this membrane of humans that hold things in place. The gatekeepers you and I are by default.
In any society coherence is insured by the strong neurological affinity for predictability, a human feat which opens an immense hunger in us for rules. All the power caste has to do is to churn them out, day in, day out and we’ll stumble in our haste to start preserving, enforcing and accepting them.
Your job is a game. Your parenting is a game. Your travel is a game. Your voting is a game. Your paycheck is a game. Your money is a game. Your fashion is a game. Your morality is a game.
Game — structured play.
Structure — a labyrinth of conceptually and naturally connected rules.
Consequences — what happens when game penalties are applied to your real self without consideration for your making of flesh and blood.
Injustice — failing to acknowledge the briefness, fragility and openness of life.
The single takeaway is that you are an assigned agent in all these adult games. You still have the power to stop being a gatekeeper and stop enforcing your internalized world view on others. You still have the power to cheat, which is making up new rules, and masterfully add them in the game others made for you. Two power zones. Remember, you can change the rules simply by not enforcing them on others.
So I’m calling on you props, NPCs and plot advancement devices: let’s unite and start making these games our own again. Let’s regroup and take the world back from spoiled brats chocking on their inherited broken pride, until it is not too late and their disconcerting rules break reality apart into a planet that won’t welcome us anymore or a fascist society not working for its members anymore. Ready, …?
Enjoy your epiphany, yours,