Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Cult of Personality - Ego in the Games

BJ Recio and I had chance upon each other in BGC recently and I got to catch up on what he’s doing with #Manilaencouters and all the other things I missed when I was not active anymore in Gamers and GMs.

One of the things I realized now that I’m older was the need to have a “Cult of Personality” that this GM was the best and that his capabilities is the pinacle. So much time has passed and my work and life experience changed my perspective. It was BJ’s words -“Cult of Personality” in GMing that best described when the GM became obsessed in racking fame, being exclusive, and had to keep the attention to himself. 

I realized that - I realized the rush and the need for that validation and how stupid and petty it was. The level of EGO at play explained the fractured infighting in many RPG groups in the Philippines. “The Cult of Personality” kinda made so much sense of how how these all made sense the history of gaming groups and how they rose and fell. 

Players were scores or trophies. Being in the center of attention was crucial. And of course twisting reality and perspective was one of the most intersting results of this obsession. This got me to reflect a lot of my “sins” or “faults” when I was a GM through college and until I stopped Playing at around 2015. Family changed all that, I had to change my priorities and I had to stop gaming because the 10-30 hours per week of my gaming had to be transfered to: Studies, Health, and Family. 

There is a lot of Emotional Investment in the Games. When our minds are fully occupied by the game - how its a skill that gives us a sense of flow and a thirst for living - it can make me driven. I still have that Obsessive Personality that really mentally dwells on negative emotions and memories.  Games are very much addicting to me - except that earlier in life I had a hard dose of reality when my younger brother was a better GM than me. Thats when a lot of my reflections revealed a lot of my flaws. I loved him and wanted him to be best, but I had the selfish desire that I had to be better. I was the older brother. That conflict and realization stayed with me: it stayed with me when I flunked grade 2 and had to repeat, and it came with me when I realized the limits of my mental abilities and my place in the attention of the world and in life. When games are my world and I realized I was not the best and have so much to learn is what changed my path. 

Accepting my brother is better made me want to get better, the EGO was still there, now my brother and I was obsessed in learning as many techniques from as many GMs as possible. You see the obsession when you look at the Game Mastering Technique List I made in Google docs. I was still obsessed and trying to learn and to rise up. Things changed when I started Philippine Table Top RPGs in Facebook. When I learned the mistakes of the past and the ego involved. I learned to Tolerate and Accept people and different gaming philosophies. I dont know when I became more Humanist in my Gaming - that I accepted the rule of Fun and learned to get along with good behavior. 

This is when I learned the CONSENT cardinal rule in TRPGs. That when a Player said this ws the Line not to Cross I took it to heart. And that MY GAMING had to evolve with those consitraints - if the Player had some boundaries but wanted to play with me - they could and I can work around it. TRPGs is an exercise of creativity - I shouldnt feel constrained as a GM - imagination is my resource. 

This is when I learned about the example of abusing consent that popped in my radar. The twisting the consent to maintain power over someone. That was when I remembered my brother and how I wanted to stay the top dog - to still be the older brother and to be the best. I realized then the amount of EGO I had invested in my Identity in Games and how I didnt’ grow. Everytime someone thinks theyre the best - they fail to be the student. This is where the Toyota Production System, LEan, Stoic and Humble philosophies of knowledge re-arrangded all my perceptions of myself for the EGO and selfishness I had. I could see it in BJ’s example and I felt really bad how much I’ve stagnated when I believed in my own superiority. 

NOw I see gaming groups and gamers are all in their own Journey and there are ups and downs and they are all in various stages of development. Like a good story - one’s progress in the story doesn’t make it better farther down its progress: we can rewind and fastforward in every point of time and we can see every painful part that needs to happen for every point of development. 

Its like having kids, knowing that any tiny change in history would have resulted in different personalities than that what we have now. Narrative Bias makes us value the flaws and the sequence of the story, despite that any change in our most precious loved ones will be irrelevant to who we are now or the infinite number of variations in probability they could have turned out to be. Narrative Bias helps us grow “Stockholm syndrome” making us love our current circumstance because of our human limitaitons. 

I’m no saint. Hopefully those who suffered when I was a bad GM to can forgive me with forgetting and not ruin the hobby for them. I hope I can play again one day, probably when my son is 10-11 and my daughter is 5, or probably not. I wish I can teach this to my kids and save them from the pain and threat of having a permanent flaw in this fully recorded age. With everything so much recorded and stored, I guess we need to be able to love people with their flaws more now than ever. To allow people to learn and forgive. 

I hope I get over the need to be the center of attention and just let people have fun, and take a place in helping it along.