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The Game of Life


Let us suppose that you are playing a game. Its physics are the gold standard in gaming, the entire economy is player-driven, and there are plenty of mini-games; however, there are balance concerns, a terrible amount of grind, and a rather brutal permadeath system. (It’s questionable if you can just roll a new character or if you can just play it once – ever.)

The economy is entirely player-driven.

You have been playing this game for some time now, and you’ve possibly been spending time on raising stats and gaining skills. However, you and every other player in the game have a wide range of long-term afflictions that will gradually deplete your stats, erode your skills, and, in the worst cases, start deleting entries from your quest journal and friends list, and this process will continue until your character is dead; it is likely that the players who introduced you to this game are suffering from these afflictions now. Due to a weird quirk in the game’s development, player skill is also a stat, and victims of certain afflictions will simply forget how to play. These afflictions can be delayed through gameplay, but they are inevitably fatal.

Long-term afflictions cause the loss of fundamental abilities

Most, but not all, players have accepted this as part of the game, and a great many players are involved in dealing with the effects of these afflictions, taking care of afflicted players (often the ones who introduced them) until their inevitable removal from the game. The majority of other players do not concern themselves with these afflictions until they begin taking their toll in earnest.

A sizable chunk of the player base is too fixated on mini-games, grinding, or the various social aspects to be concerned with it; still, other players have a rather unwholesome fixation on the promotion of certain heritable cosmetics and stat-blocks. (The simplest and most prudent solution here would be to create an editing tool for these heritable aspects, but that is beyond the scope of this article.)

Many experienced players, however, particularly if they have spent time leveling up their stats or want to keep being able to play mini-games, would rather not have this happen to their characters, but what are these the players to do? Complain to the developers? That is an extremely popular activity, but the dev team is so notoriously unresponsive that a startling number of players have PKed each other over whether there are multiple developers, this is a solo project, or the entire game’s procedurally generated. (That, too, is beyond the scope of this article.)

However, one of the benefits of the extremely advanced physics system is that it affects everything that occurs within the game; even the player afflictions occur due to the mechanics of several intricately complex systems, the details of which can be found on the rest of this website. There is no instruction manual, and the player-written guides to this sort of thing are woefully incomplete.

Gathering enough information to write them and to craft the tools to deal with these afflictions requires grinding, focus, intelligence, and in-game currency; it takes a small group of players many years to discover even a small portion of the relevant mechanics.

Fortunately, the game is very large, and many other players have the same idea. Multiple guilds attempting to halt these afflictions have sprung up, and several well-respected healing-research clans have formed branches specifically to deal with these afflictions directly instead of simply trying to slow their progress.

A healer comforts a player before their afflictions force them out of the game

While it is a truism that you cannot make use of game currency when you are out of the game, an unfortunately high portion of the player base is fixated on gathering as much of this currency as possible, even as the long-term afflictions ravage their characters. To an experienced mini-game player, this is nonsensical. If for example, your maximum HP were being gradually reduced in a post-apocalyptic open-world game, you would immediately go hunting for a way to halt the process and restore your max HP. If you would get a permanent game over from a countdown in a sword-and-sorcery RPG, even if it were a long one, one of your highest priorities would be getting rid of it.

While you would still value in-game currency, it is clearly not as important as your character’s stats, skills, and playability. Therefore, it would be extremely wise to offer a portion of your currency to reputable guilds and players interested in reversing these afflictions, as their research may lead to your character (and all the characters on your friends list) being partially or wholly cured of these afflictions before becoming noticeably affected.

Of course, this is not a game.

This is your life.

About the author
Josh Conway

Josh Conway

Josh is a professional editor and is responsible for editing our articles before they become available to the public as well as moderating our Discord server. He is also a programmer, long-time supporter of anti-aging medicine, and avid player of the strange game called “real life.” Living in the center of the northern prairie, Josh enjoys long bike rides before the blizzards hit.
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