I mean it, do it, act in your real life as serious, but playful as you do when playing Old School RuneScape if you want to be successful and achieve a lot in your life, regardless of your definition of success.
When we’re emerged in a game, we’re taking on quite a serious role, that of the gamer, and everything that happens in the game has incredible proportions that we subjectively feel as such. If you don’t believe me, just think how incredible it felt when you got that rare drop in no time, and how frustratingly infuriating it became when you went really really dry on a drop. And trust me, I’m on almost 7k Kraken KC without the Kraken pet…
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Think of the time when you got PKed and lost, or when you couldn’t take on that annoying quest boss… Vanstrom Klause I’m thinking about you… Or if you had the even sadder experience of getting scammed, lured, or hacked, you certainly do know how real the pain of losing your bank feels.
This is all because of how much emerged and dedicated we are and of how we conceptualize of the time spent in game as outside of the real life. Imagine being that engaged and having the same never giving up attitude towards real life issues.
This experience of being fully emerged in the game was described by J. Huizinga, almost a century ago in his book “Homo Ludens – a study of the play element in culture”. Even though the book dates back to 1938, the anthropologist shows how regardless of cultural differences or era, one thing remained constant: humans when they’re playing, regardless of what they’re playing.
With today’s technology, we evolved to playing games on PCs, consoles, mobile, and we’re even one step into experiencing the virtual reality at a whole different level through tech such as oculus rift. Ever wondered why humanity as a whole developed games in the first place? Why there is more and more tech being developed with the sole purpose of creating more space for games within human life?
What in his book Huizinga refers to as play, nowadays we refer to as gaming or videogaming, which is nothing more than play by technological means. As Huizinga defines it, play is older than humanity since the animals themselves do engage in play. However, videogames are quite a recent addition to play. We learned how to play as kids, and we learn to game as kids or adults. But regardless of the moment when we learn to game, we will emerge in it as though we were kids, bringing our full focus, presence, and intentionality in the game.
The younger we have contact with the technological devices that enable gaming, the earlier we will learn how to game. And this reminds me of something that really impressed me when witnessing my two years old son a few days ago. For countless of times I did herb runs with him in my lap explaining to him where we’re going what we’re doing, what we’re taking from the bank, etcetera. He was always fascinated by it, and especially loved the home teleport animation and loading screen. But just a few days ago I happened to be logged in on mobile at the GE and had the bank opened. Just a day back I had taught him to tap-tap on the screen to kill the Kraken, since that’s an afk boss that we can both enjoy while chanting the Kraken pet song. The really impressive part was that my two year old managed to swap to the herb run tab, and started tapping on the items needed for the herb run. I was stunned and shocked and all that! But it’s the repetition that lead him to learning.
Old School RuneScape dates back to 2001 and most of us first played it as kids, probably as the 2007 version of it, and we’re all full grown adults or close to 22 years after its launch. As kids we do learn through play, whatever we are learning, but then our enthusiasm is suddenly cut because we start having to learn stuff in a force-fed way at school.
Acquisition vs conscious learning
There’s a clear distinction that learning researchers make between acquisition and conscious learning, and while the first one is the very best because it feels effortless and you’re purely in the flow, the second one also plays a great part in our evolution.
Acquisition is when we learn something effortlessly, without even being aware that we are learning it in the moment when we’re learning it. It feels amazing! From OSRS, and games in general we acquire information rather than consciously putting in an effort to do that, unless we speak about game mechanics that we sometimes do want to consciously learn.
Conscious learning, on the other hand, is also really important because it can help you build a lot of self discipline and is also required to an extent if you want to conform to the social norms, which, pretty much across the globe dictate that you need to learn in school so that you get a job and become a self sustainable individual.
We, as humans, have so many different sides to ourselves and play enables us to express sides we wouldn’t normally express in the day to day situation. Huizinga states that “in play there is something “at play” which transcends the immediate needs of life and imparts meaning to the action“. You, as an Old School RuneScape player, took this to a whole other level. We all know how gaming sessions can transcend life itself and how in certain cases what becomes more essential than living is the XP or GP gain or finally finishing that quest. And we’re not even speaking about extreme cases of gaming addition, even though gaming addition has become a more and more common problem in the recent years.
Have you ever postponed meeting basic needs like eating, drinking, or peeing because you didn’t want to take a break from the game just yet?
Sometimes, more often than not, we do become passive towards real life and active towards the game. That doesn’t mean that we stop learning as there are many skills that we learn while playing OSRS, even though more often than not we are not aware of the things we gained while fully engaged in the grind. However, there’s a lot of value in all of the lessons playing RuneScape can teach you. I know that the gaming time is usually perceived as a wasted time for relaxation or coping, but besides the psychological and emotional release you get by taking a break from real life while playing, you will undoubtedly acquire sets of skills far beyond gaming mechanics.
In and out
What Huizinga couldn’t predict almost a century ago is the in and out state from the gaming that you can experiencing with low click intensity or afk activities in RuneScape. With this, we are no longer either in the almost sacred space of the play, but not outside of it and fully in real life either. You’re in a new space where by stretching your brain muscle a bit you manage to be involved and engaged both in your real life and in the game simultaneously. This creates a whole new dynamic between you and gaming or play as you’re playing and at the same time not playing. However, this is just another layer that you need to consider when I say that you should treat your real life as you treat playing RuneScape. And this is for one big reason: you never actual stop the grind, but you adjust its intensity to a manageable level in accordance with whatever else is going on in your life.
There’s a full philosophy behind the seriousness with which you approach playing OSRS. Dedication, passion, focus, intensity, full presence of mind, ignoring other needs, and so on. Imagine if only we’d treat real life with the same approach. How fast and how successful we’d become?