Your Life Goals are not My Life Goals

Life is not Monopoly.

Monopoly is the kind of game where you get to pick a little model, a dog, or a top hat to represent you, and then everyone takes it in turns to move around the board. Success is measured in only one way: Money. Funny Money. The one with all of the money at the end wins.

Life is not Monopoly.

There is a tendency in modern society for everyone to assume that we are all playing the same game. That we all have the same win condition. That everyone’s win condition(s) are the same. Family, Money, Children. That these win conditions are what everyone should be compared too.

People are tricked into believing this, because like so many MMO’s, we are all playing on the same server. We can see everyone else’s character, and we are all stuck by the same set of game mechanics, rules, and laws. For many people, this means that we must be all working to the same set of win conditions.

It is this frame work that mean that people feel that it is necessary to point out how far ahead of the ‘game’ they are to all those around them. Look at me, I’m winning.

“Your Job earns 15K? well, yes, mine only gets me 21K…”

The problem is that we’re not all playing the same game. We’re just in the same world. My goals, are not your goals. We might have the same set of achievements available to us (Get Married: Achievement Unlocked, Get a House: Achievement Unlocked…), but that doesn’t mean that we all want them.

The best analogy here is that we’re all playing different character types. You’re playing, say, a Money Grabbing Bastard, and I’m playing, say a Filthy Hippy. This means that sure, I can Get Married, and get the bonuses that go with it, but they don’t have as many bonuses for my character. In fact, having money isn’t going to get me as much life XP as it would for your Money Grabbing Bastard. You can also get the achievement “Went To Glastonbury, and do not remember”, but you wouldn’t get anything out of it.

The problem with the Media, with Television, and with the appearance of popular culture is that everyone is playing Basic White Male as a race, and Money Grabbing Bastard as a class. Except that we’re not. In the last update, the worked out that gender is predominantly irrelevant to most achievements, and so is race. Our Character Model can (and should) look however we damn well please, because that shouldn’t stop us from getting the most important achievement “Happiness”.

Society would be so much better if people were just honest about it.

We’ve all had conversations where we say things like “I’ve just got achievement X, I’m so psyched” to have someone respond with “Oh, yeah, but I got X, then Y.” generally in a dismissive term. For them, they are far ahead of you in the game, and they are showing how much better they are at it. What they fail to understand is that achievement has a completely different meaning, and requirement for your Race/Class/Goal combination. If everyone just realised that, when someone shares their achievement, it’s because from their perspective, their character, their goal, it’s a big thing, not a challenge, not an attack, not a test to see who’s winning, but simply wanting to share with a friend their achievement, and everyone just damn well celebrated the world would be a better place.

Life is a game. It’s not competitive. It’s generally co-operative. Sure you can play it competitively, but mostly your playing against yourself, or your own imagined competitor. Even those who seem to be playing the same game as you, are playing a subtly different version, with different difficulties and side-quests.

That’s why someone gives up a career to live in Borneo. That’s why someone else works in a job they hate. They are playing a different game.

We can help each other, we can show other people cheat guides. We can give in-game money, support, and products to other people. We can show them the routes we took. We can give them all the advice about the things we’ve learned. For some it will help. The core mechanics are the core mechanics. We can’t however demand that they chase our goals, because that’s not their game.

If you are one of those people that believes that this game of life has only one set of goals, one set of win-conditions, and are instant that that’s the game everyone should play, stop it.

Seriously, Stop It.

Your ruining the game for everyone.


Roleplaying Purity Test

Ultimate Roleplaying Purity Score
Category Your Score Average
Hacklust 35.85%
Has conversations in between massacres
Sensitive Roleplaying 13.92%
There is no player. There is only…. Zuul.
GM Experience 18.12%
Worldbuilder, storyteller… Master.
Systems Knowledge 91.53%
Played in a couple of campaigns
Livin’ La Vida Dorka 32.18%
Carries dice in pocket ‘just in case’
You are 43.2% pure
Average Score: 68.8%

Death Playing Chess

While writing and essay based on the film Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, I started trying to track down where the idea comes from that you can play Death for your soul. It’s an interesting one, and one I thought would be a fairly trivial one to solve. It appears, however, that what you end up with is references to the Seventh Seal, or a picture hosted on Wikipedia.

Death Playing Chess

The picture, reputedly done by Albertus Pictor (1440-1507), and can be found at Täby Church, Diocese of Stockholm. This confused me. I spend a lot of time looking for where this idea came from. It then struck me. Early Christian mythology linked Satan with death, so I looked for a depiction of Satan playing Chess. It was this search that took me to what I was looking for. A website about chess had a list of pictures depicting the game of chess, starting with Venus and Mars playing chess, and then Moritz August Retzsch (1779 – 1857) picture of Satan playing a man for his soul. Finally I was on to something. So, I started to see who had written about it, what had made it transfer from (so far) two paintings into popular culture. I found an excertp by Huxley in a book called “Elbert Hubbard’s Scrap Book” By Elbert Hubbard (Published by Kessinger Publishing, 1998, pp 91), this however contemplates swapping the Devil for Jesus, in a fight for our souls verses the Devil. I also found an excerpt from a sermon. This talks about a myth where there is a painting which depicts faust being caught by the devil, and the devil mocking him. One day, a chess master sees the painting, and after veiwing it for many hours, claims that Faust has another move.

As interesting as both these are, I don’t seem to be nearer to my goal. Where did this idea come from? The Christopher Marlowe(1604) play, Dr. Faust doesn’t mention the game, and so even the Goeth’s version is a bit too late to explain the paintings, the final version comming as it does in 1839. Even if we consider the rumoured earlier drafts, they only get us back as far as 1772.

There may be something in the idea that a Chapbook(A small, pocket-sized book), of the stories of folk-lore with the name of Faust tagged onto it may be the original source of the idea, this means, of course, that the idea that the Devil, or Death will play a game with the deceased for their soul is deep in folklore, and may indeed have come down to us from the Greek idea of gods cheating death.

Further searching finds depictions from folklore. In a book entitled “Satanism” by Robert Passantino, 1995, pp 22, we find three “pact” stories, which involve the outwitting of Satan by ordinary people, one of which is a man who wagers his soul in a card game with satan(though it doesn’t say what full terms were, did the man get anything for this wager?), wether he be burried inside or outside of a church, and so has himself bueried in a church wall. Not exactly chess, but a wager for a soul, over a game played with Satan. has this listed under it’s “Urban Myths” Section.

There are many tantalising extracts on, most of which from books that can’t be seen on that site.

It is possible that the paintings had such an effect on the minds of those that saw them that they simply slipped into folklore, to be re-awakened by the Seventh Seal, but I don’t think so. I’m sure that there is a popularised myth somewhere, some root to it. What is, I don’t yet know. However, the research I have done so far is enough fo rme to be able to say in my piece that I can’t find out where it started!

~Black Xanthus