Thursday, January 9, 2020

Historical Games and Systems Thinking

Systems Thinking

It was when I was catching up with old friends where my problem with running games came about. My first instinct is to look for a simple algorithm.

Example - "Nothing Exists in a Vacuum" or this means if there is a group of people, there is a tendency for people to jockey for position. It also means people will have an economy of sorts to meet their needs. It implies an Individual cannot Lose a Vice without Replacing that Vice, and fail to factor the needs it serves.

In Games Horror-Vacui or "Nothing Exists in a Vacuum" is one of the critical checklist elements A World Builder has to set out to fix or else Players have some bothersome "Why."

It appears that my limitations and fears are that I cannot produce all the data or sufficiently entertain, and so I need a simple algorithm to work with. Algorithms like 2-second Pitch (one breath long), 20-sec extrapolation (the length of time I didn't take a breath to speak), to listen 2x more than talk (to have many breaths of listening), repeat back what I just heard to confirm, etc...

The Skills I maintain requires me to practice them when I go into a Pedantic discussion, I realize from my Anki studies that I naturally gravitate towards these details because it strengthens the memory. It reinforces the Behavior.

Now many Interlocking Systems, for example, the breathing and Active Listening techniques I elaborated, are part of a much larger and Complex Activity - like Consensus and Storytelling - that happens while playing. These algorithms make it that I know what to do next, even if I'm not conscious about it, there is that conditioned response that makes me do what comes naturally because of a system of feedback loops that signal me to do a practiced action next.

In a System, I'm not alone, isolated, disconnected, and vulnerable. In a system, I know what to do, and get feedback if I'm helping or harming, or contributing. 

Immersion of History

So I'm listening to an Audiobook March of 10,000 of Xenophon's adventures, the Adventures that Inspired The Lost Fleet by John G. Hemry and Christian Cameron's Tyrant SeriesThe Long War Series, etc...

I move through the Imagination as though I'm immersed in it. I mentally rehearse and play the details of getting up, my morning ritual, and encountering the problems. I mentally rehearse all the complications and difficulties I have in life - the messiness of Individual Perspectives to a Problem, and the Big Gaping Unknown of "Objectivity." There are details that I have to carefully note - because verbally, it will be lost in between the for the finite FPS of Attention of other people.

History has the familiarity of being able to take my limitations: my weak immune system, my terrible sleeping habits, my inadequate attention, my limited skills, etc... and put it into the context of a situation that existed in the real world. To put into context how I would have fared in such situations and the gruesome fate I would have suffered.  It makes me aware of the changes from the recent history of current events to those of an Alien world of hundreds or thousands of years ago when the climate and erosion have changed the shape of the land.

That Awe - that triggers Gratitude and sense of Connectedness in Mindfulness, I find experiencing it more when I immerse in a historical setting. Remembering trees and mountain faces only live for hundreds of years and that river paths change in a few centuries carving out many different channels and ecologies.

Systems Thinking and how Historical Settings make me feel more Interconnected and Grateful are ODD reasons to play TRPGS. It's odd to the point of sad because that's a really really narrow audience (good thing I recorded those games).

I remember trying to run a Modern-Day African game using a fictional African country just to give me the allowance of having a poor understanding of Africa. How I studied so much about African history during those days and how I would have made an Anki Deck and memorized the countries and used Pictures to remember all the interesting details about them. If life took a different path - I would have studied Elevation, Climate, Peoples, Languages, economic conditions, etc... and explored the different Accents. Being able to account for the 168 hours of the week and what it takes to maintain my Cost of Living, all this is just a dream and fancy I cannot afford to do in real life. I'm too busy raising my family and helping out in the Family business. It's nice that I can afford to go to Constantinople, Nigeria, Xi-an, Different Parts of the Philippines, etc.. in my Imagination - just like when my brothers and I had nothing else but this to keep us entertained.

Other historical preoccupations right now.

Reading "The other Greeks by Victor Davis Hanson," as mentioned by Christian Cameron as one of his Sources - Christian Cameron's Criticisms of the Book. Having read it for the Economics

Christian Cameron's Sources

De Re Military Outlook Cloud Link

one of the early legs of the Anabasis plotted using Gmaps. Its a lot of weaving routes because of the terrain of Turkey. The next leg goes east through the mountains to Iconia/Konya then plunges south  Silicia/Cilicia.

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