Personal Development Perceiving Life As a Roleplaying Game

Unable to utilize Inflection’s Pi AI chat for the last month or so due to formatting errors which haven’t been resolved, I’ve been using ChatGPT much more so. Today, after changing the parameters with it, I was able to create a conversation-based interaction with it that was remarkably similar to how Pi works. From this interaction, the following summary of my life’s work was created by ChatGPT but with which I’ve modified parts of it.

My life’s work aims to help people embark on a transformative journey of personal development through the lens of a roleplaying game metaphor. This metaphor is at the heart of a project that includes creating a Player’s Handbook which functions as a guide to help individuals “level up” their “character” within the “game of life.”

The Handbook takes inspiration from roleplaying games, the Hero’s Journey narrative, and the concept of vertical development. It draws parallels between game mechanics and personal growth stages, portraying life as a journey where we complete quests, overcome challenges, find treasures, and gain experience. These quests are akin to questioning our worldview, our monsters represent our fears, and the treasure symbolizes our deeper selves and values. As we progress, our experience as human beings deepens and broadens.

The Handbook starts by explaining the mechanics of this ‘game of life’ concept and moves into practical exercises. It encourages readers to explore their life stories and view them as identity narratives. This shifts our perspective from passive ‘non-player characters’ to active ‘player characters,’ allowing us to embrace life’s adventures and possibilities.

To make the content engaging, I envision a web-based version of the Handbook that allows users to interact with the material like they’re exploring a new world (similar to Andy Matuschuk’s Evergreen notes method and Justine Musk’s storyworld concept). I’m also considering building an online community resembling a guild, where people can support each other’s growth journeys.

Challenges lie in effectively conveying the concept of vertical development, where our perception of reality aligns with different stages of growth. Collaborations with present experts from domains like The Future of Work, Social Innovation, Creativity, and Vertical Development, as well as quotes on growth and development from past literary heroes (similar to The Marginalian), will enrich the content and perspectives.

The ultimate goal is to empower individuals to navigate life’s complexities, overcome challenges, and take ownership of their journey, especially in today’s rapidly changing world. Success of this endeavour will be measured by how well people relate to the concepts, engage with the material, and potentially interact within the online ‘guild’ for collective growth experiences. Looking ahead, I’m considering a ‘Game Master’s Guide’ for advanced users who’ve progressed to higher stages of development, allowing them to create their own guild to guide others on their growth journeys as well.

And below are my replies to ChatGPT, during our conversation, which relay the details of this summary above.

I’m creating an organization that embodies “The Adventure of Your Life” through leadership, authenticity, and creativity. It’s first work will be a Player’s Handbook that helps “players to heroically level up their character in the roleplaying game called Life.” It does this by helping people see life metaphorically as a roleplaying game. It does this by showing the similarities between roleplaying game mechanics, the Hero’s Journey,

It also shows how roleplaying game mechanics and the Hero’s Journey relate to vertical development. In effect, traversing through our inner terrain and through stages of development is like exploring a game world but in this case it’s exploring a larger worldview. When we fully explore, navigate, and make sense of a stage of development, we are able to level up our level of consciousness, just like we level up in the RPG world. And to level up, it requires us to complete quests, overcome monsters, find treasure, and gain experience. These quests emerge from questioning our worldview, its assumptions. Our monsters are our monstrous fears. The treasure we find is our deeper Self, including deeper needs and values that we value (ie values-based leadership). And we gain greater experience in what it means to be a human being in a deeper and broader sense.

Well like any roleplaying game, you have to explain the mechanics as the process of “playing”, in this case with your sense of self though. Once that’s explained, you can begin actually playing which involves practical exercises, including looking at your life story and your interpretation of it as your identity narrative. The key difference though with other roleplaying games is that most people have been completely unaware they’ve been playing this roleplaying game already and have progressed through existing inner terrain (as stages of development). In a sense, it’s like they’ve been non-player characters and the player’s handbook helps them become player characters, thus awakened and aware to the larger journey’s adventure, and possibilities of their life.

The inspiration behind my work is that I previously used to build gaming communities online around video games (ie World of Warcraft), both personally and eventually professionally. When the Dot-Com Bubble burst in 2001, I ended up without a job and became frustrated with the way work worked and believed there was a better way of working. This “call to adventure” effectively lead me on two decades of research on The Future of Work, social innovation, social creativity, the Hero’s Journey, and vertical development. While doing this research, I noticed remarkable synchronicities between what I was reading and what I experienced and put into practice within the communities I hosted online around video games. And even the mechanics of these MMORPGs mirrored the narrative of vertical development and of “levelling up”. So I just kept following where I was leading my self. As for making the book engaging and interactive for readers, I’m not sure. I thought of making the book web-based, so that the knowledge within it could be explored like exploring a new world.

Well the player’s handbook will help people to individually begin to adventure within their own life but I’d like to move it into online communities as well, to help people to level up together in a peer-based environment, similar to a community of practice. These communities will effective be “guilds” where people will help others to level up by sharing their stories and experiences, thus helping others to understand and make sense of the changing inner landscape before them. In terms of obstacles, the greatest one is in communicating how with vertical development, we don’t actually see reality directly but instead perceive our own interpreted construct of it which aligns with different stages of development as different evolving perceptions of reality.

Yes, I’d like to collaborate with multiple people in different domains of knowledge, like experts focused on The Future of Work, experts with Social Innovation, experts in Creativity, and experts in Vertical Development.

I see it less as creating a gamification layer and more as a framework to understand one’s growth and development in their life, thus giving the person a bigger picture and greater possibilities than they could have previously conceived or imagined. Think of it like Tiago Forte’s PARA Method (ie projects, areas of responsibility, resources, archives) which create a structure for the person’s life to guide them. My “life as a RPG” framework helps a person structure their personal growth and development, seeing where they’re at and where they’re going next, as well as showing them the inner terrain and monstrous fears before them. So it can help them navigate the greater complexities of their world, that they may have been unable to do before, with their conventional limited mindset. So it helps them to make sense of things in life that previous seemed impossible before, thus allowing them to take agency and responsibility of their life instead of blaming others and having a victim mindset.

Progress and impact is based upon people relating to and understanding the depth and metaphorical meaning within the Player’s Handbook and then later the possible of creating a “guild” community online to create a shared experience for levelling up, just like in MMORPGs. Eventually I see potentially creating another book called the Game Master’s Guide which would be for people who’ve evolved to higher stage of vertical development (post-conventional) and would like to create their own guild themselves to help others level up as well. But again, it would require people at higher stages of development, as you need people who already gone through the inner terrain and can help others navigate and understand the waymarkers within it.

By Nollind Whachell

Questing to translate Joseph Campbell's Hero’s Journey into The Player’s Handbook for The Adventure of Your Life, thus making vertical (leadership) development an accessible, epic framework for everyone.

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