My inspiration for this relatively quick post(considering the expansive topics, anyway) comes from two somewhat disparate sources.
First is the talk given by Dieter F. Uchtdorf recently about how work and learning sustained him during his rough childhood in post-WW2 Europe.
As refugees from East Germany, he and his family had almost nothing, and had to work hard to stay alive. Things eventually got better for them because they kept working. I’ve long believed that work is essential to mental, physical and spiritual health. The natural question that I come back to whenever this comes up is simply:
What would you do if you didn’t have to work for a living, and had all your material needs and wants satisfied?
I’d still design games, produce art, and find ways to teach people art, science and math. (Those aren’t incongruous; I believe that art and games have vast teaching potential.) When I wanted to work up a good sweat, I’d find someone who needs help moving, or go build something in a woodshop. I’d go pick up that Ph. D. in Astrophysics that I’ve wanted for years. I would spend more time with my family, working and playing (play is a child’s work in a lot of ways), learning and teaching. I love being productive and creating things and/or fixing things. I couldn’t sit still for long. Is it any wonder why I’m allergic to the Big Brother welfare state?
The second source is Wolfshead’s article over here:
It’s an excellent article that is quite obviously about play, but it prompted a similar question for me:
What would you do in an MMO (or any other game) if you didn’t have to work for gear or levels, and all your in-game wants and needs were satisfied?
I’ve already answered that a bit in my Game Tourism article, but to recap, I’d play the game. In other words, if the “game” is nothing but the loot treadmill and chasing levels, well… there’s not much there for me. I’d play with that for a while, and probably have fun, but it’s ultimately a shallow set of experiences to build a game on in my mind. There is a LOT more that can be done in game design.
Now obviously, these are somewhat different questions, but to me, they both dig to the same core questions:
What is important to you? What motivates your actions? If you were freed from mundane concerns, what would you spend your time on? Are you a consumer, a constructor, or a contributor?
What is the measure of your character?