Sunday, January 23, 2022

Emotional Labor in Games - High Will and Resolve Characters.

 It was my wife and women in my life who had to explain to me the importance of just being Present and being able to listen. While most of my mentors are men in problem-solving and critical thinking, the women in my life had to teach me the value of emotional labor and intelligence. 

In a TRPG we don't have situations of emotional labor, but in real life - Holy crap the amount of emotional labor we have to face outweighs the Problem Solving. Problem Solving can be Googled or you can Youtube it or Crowdsource it - Emotional Labor is like Muscle and Bone density and disposition - you either have it or don't. 

So when I saw Lucina the Brave Herder - I realize she is Sub Optimal in Conan. In a Conan story she would be a damsel in distress - an empowered damsel "unFrazetta Sexy" damsel - but in need of Brawn. 

Emotional Labor in Games are scenes where someone has to Listen and Take on large amount of Stress. Like Listening to End Users and their problems, BUT resisting the urge to solve it for them and instead get it out in the open and make the person feel like they can communicate their problems without their worth being diminished. 

Understanding how we as a society are dysfunctional in the ability to talk about problems is essential in understanding how to frame how Important and life-changing - and dramatic and epic Emotional Labor can be. 

Agency - what we crave in the game - the feeling that despite the odds we matter - is a seed that springs from feeling we matter and someone who makes us feel we matter. When people make bad decisions and in the AGGREGATE all these problematic behaviors create a dysfunctional and scary society - Resolve, Empathy, and Understanding are powerful forces that drive a character to act in a heroic context. 

Too often in Stories focus on the ACTION. while ignoring the CAUSE OF ACTION or CALL TO ACTION. Information/Knowledge - that we matter, that there is someone to protect or care for makes a character into a hero of a story that is interesting and engaging. 

Emotional Labor = the work done by social workers, councilors, suicide hotline volunteers, mediators, therapists, friends and loved ones - is TIME these people will not get back given to another person to repair and recover their agency and their ability to make sense and master their future. 

Imagine if we were taxed by our Time and not money, how "equal" things will be, and how much empathy can we have for people in systemic problems and ills of society. If one cannot value time - it's hard to see our effect on the time of others and those around us. My gamer mindset is always trying to see things in a different set of mechanics and systems. I realize some narratives are not appropriate for some games - i don't think it would be appropriate for this kind of meta agency analysis in a Conan game. Its more for CoC or Kult. So I realize the character is sub-optimal for the sample adventures given, especially when Violence is the agreed-upon catharsis of the group.  

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