Thursday, December 26, 2019

Aging Tinkering Gamer and Skills

Skill is a concept that keeps changing year to year in my life. Although we are being introduced to skills early in life, it is through games where I see the implications of mastery.

Before my understanding of skills is that its these discrete corpora of knowledge: like "Management," "Leadership," "Diplomacy," etc... I believed that, over time and practice, these discrete corpora would allow me to perform greater and higher levels of mastery. I would have a more difficult challenge, and my mastery will allow me to overcome these. In Management, I can handle more problematic organizations, in Leadership more demoralized people, and Diplomacy more complex issues.

But I was wrong. Skills are not discrete corpora, but we learn a vast amount of small skills like "Sarcasm" (a kind of framing), "truth sandwich," "next action," (131 tools and techniques in PMBOK, )etc...  and that we use all these different tools and ingredients to create specific results. We don't have the Large Overwhelming Problems; we can break down all problems into smaller and smaller components. The problematic organization in a Management problem has a root cause and will require an adaptive lifestyle approach. The issue of morale and behavior in an organization can be a mixed bag of bad policy, bad culture, and conflicting incentives and penalties. It gets more complicated as Diplomacy can be confused with Leadership because there is a give-and-take with people.

For ease of understanding - our brains still think of skills in discrete corpora, but in actual daily use, our Skills are made up of many smaller skills. These lesser skills are mastered to the level of conditioned response or requiring minimal conscious effort. Mastery to not need any conscious effort allows us more complex feats since this mitigates the limitations of our working memory. When so much skill is in our Long Term Memory, that place in our mind beyond our Working and Conscious awareness, and we have a positive feedback loop going on with those skills, we seem to achieve FLOW.

It's not that there are Big Problems that require an Overwhelming Mastery of Skills. Its that there is a scarcity of Attention, Time, and Resources. In the Information Asymmetry of life, Prioritization is the Indommidable and Ubiquitous problem.  Our biggest problem can be fixed by a bunch of small skills, but it would take a lot of resources we don't have. That we juggle a lot of problems, and when we do we sacrifice the ability to solve deep thought problems.

These days I want to lose 2-4 hours just updating my definition of Skills. Either tinkering with D&D or GURPS, either simplifying or elaborating and categorizing these skills by their historical, economic, and social value.

Thanks to GURPS Fandom and =importHTML and google sheets fu, I was able to finally make that cleaned up list of GURPS Skills. I used PIVOT table to remove redundancies.

It is interesting to Listen to E. Goldraths Beyond the Goal, because his "unifying theory" for work and problem-solving compliments or supports any gamers unifying theory of World/Reality Mechanics.

If you have kids and if your kids use "Newb" "Pro" "God-Tier" to describe skills, they seem to get it. But even when my son has that understanding, his ability to overcome his anxiety regarding the work that goes into these skills seems to be my constant stumbling block. Its not that I cannot reframe and reword an argument, its that kids have a Finite window to change their mind. Once they lose patience they lock up their mindset. What I think I will discover as I spend more time with my son are the early indicators of his loss of patience and how to head these off.

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