Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Character Creation and Personal Development

In this hobby we have a strong ability to differentiate real life and the game. There is the priority of storytelling over realism or cold internal consistency. I wonder if: we can have a truer-to-life model and yet have just as much fun?

There are so many character generation mechanics and philosophies. The breadth of ideas explored in Games regarding Character development has been exhausting models found in fictional storytelling and slowly working its way in Social Science theories regarding it. What I find novel in Character Development is exploring schools of thought regarding Personal Development. Particularly: How we Learn by Prof Monish Pasupathi, The Art of Teaching by Prof Patrick N Allitt, HR and Training Heuristics, Educational Demographics, and Biz Heuristics.

One off the key lessons in RPGs is planning your character development is the best way to go through challenges. Character Dev, gets really sophisticated as we advance, we think in terms of Opportunity costs, secondary strategies (having multiple strategies), and various low cost to fail strategies by our strengths, weaknesses, and the most frequently encountered circumstances.

Personal Development works the same way, and we tend to have a particular planning method similar to Character Development. Unlike Char-Dev there is no singular forum or source for the best doctrine (or a game system's best practice), instead we have to go through so many sources and people.

What am I getting at? Well I want that you walk away with the following:
  1. its never too late to use your Character Development Skills for my own Personal Development. 
  2. That personal empowerment happens when we can frame more of the "grinding" in the same way we get it framed for us in the game. That we can frame in a way we see the opportunities and this engages us deeply and profoundly. 
  3. That no single model or personal development, as there is so many models of Char Development from various systems: we have to look at our paradigm and what do we want out of this game. 

Character Development vs Personal Development
  • Working with Random Stats, "Life giving you Lemons", is in  Gerard Puccio's Creative Thinker's Toolkit a great way to test and exercise our creativity and coping ability. These days I like limiting character options and randomizing a lot of character aspects. I feel empowered enough to let go of some control and that is a great measure of my Locus of Control/ Sense of Agency. 
  • Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses, and seeing the cause of effect of such Archetypes we see in life and in games. How are we falling into this archetype (which has a particular role and doctrine or best practice in Game Theory). Special Characters find a way to break away from the negative aspects of the Archetype and in this we find inspiration for our own lives and new characters. In games we get to explore and experiment these. 
  • How do we really improve? What really does happen as we get better? Do we gain a bunch of skills or do we trade off skills? This is when we have to be more rigorous or scientific. The great thing about World Building is we declare our assumptions about the world and we get it out, and when criticism comes we see examples that don't fit with our world view. We test our understanding and work with the Cognitive Dissonance of How we would like the world to be, how we are wrong, and that our ideals (despite being a bit far from reality) is the part of us we are admittedly remorsefully irrational about. 
  • That to adventure in our own life may not be as grand as that of fiction, but can be as challenging and costly to who we were, to maybe become who we may want to be. That it has costs that we may not ever want to pay - the harder decisions, that gives us perspective of what do we really think is hard or easy. 
So after reading this, hopefully in the back of your mind you may look at the skills and heursitics you learned in character optimization and compare it to your own Personal Advancement plan. If it sucks, maybe explore other systems or if it makes some sense test it for limits. I hope when you start doing this, you feel a greater sense of agency as you explore new strategies and perspectives. 

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