Either everything is totally significant or nothing is significant at all. Either the events of the game are ripe with meaning or they are just random blips in a cosmic Geiger counter. Continue reading
Below is a question asked by a Prosperity Path Orb runner:
I’ve been running the orbs for a few months now and have had some pretty good experiences with them. Now I am just wondering what the next step is. How can I maximize my
time with them? Have you or anyone else come up with a way to increase their effectiveness and so on. Continue reading
In the appendices of Any Game Cookbook you’ll find a few notes on the subject of sub-vocalizations. Let me just summarize here: Don’t just think the words, use your voice. It doesn’t matter how loud or how soft. Just make sure you are using your voice.
When you use your voice, you will bring the wish from the domain of idle thought into the realm of active intention.
Have you ever eaten a croissant or a butter cookie?
How can a little flour, sugar, a bit of butter, leavening, and a dash of salt be so yummy? I’ve tasted the ingredients: flour is gritty, salt a bit sandy, butter is just greasy on the tongue, and yeast is plain yucky eaten from the package. No way could one predict that these ingredients, properly combined and baked, would be so tasty.
Do yourself a favor and don’t judge the spiritual gaming recipes in this book based on a simple reading of the instructions. That would be like judging a cake from reading its list of ingredients.
Cook up the recipe, and actually give it a try before you dismiss it as “not to your taste.”
Imagine the world of a bug living its life between two sheets of plywood. This imaginary creature would be trapped in a world of forward, backward, left, and right. That’s it, just two dimensions of travel. Between sheets of plywood there would be no up or down—just left, right, forward, and backward.
Imagine that wonderful moment when our little bug friend makes its way to the edge of the plywood to emerge into a world with the new dimension of up-down. Back in the world of flat between the plywood up-down was only a myth. Up-down was something that philosophers may have guessed at. Now, much to our buggy friend’s surprise, it is smack dab face-to-face with this new dimension.
How our bug reacts to this newfound freedom of up and down will depend a great deal on its ability to move within this new dimension. If the bug has wings and can fly, life will be good as it flies for the first time free with sky above and ground below. If, on the other hand, the bug has no means of flight, then the sequence of events might be something like: emerge into a new dimension, experience a new-found freedom of movement, puzzle at the strange rushing sounds of wind whipping past one’s buggy ears, followed by a resounding splat on the ground below.
Most likely, our little friend would have appreciated this new-found freedom if it had some prior preparation—suddenly going splat is not the best introduction to a new dimension.
It is to this bug that I dedicate The Any Game Cookbook. These recipes for transforming otherwise ordinary games into spiritual adventures are designed to exercise extradimensional muscles of movement.
While working on the book Spiritual Gaming with the Classics, it became evident that many of the suggested rule modifications would work equally well on most any game. For example, the rules designed to turn Parcheesi into a spiritual game were found to work equally well on any game played with dice and markers. This became the inspiration for The Any Game Cookbook—a collection of rule modifications, exercises, mentations, and assorted activities designed to turn any game into a spiritual adventure.
But wait, before you head off to the toy store searching the aisles for a game called “any game”, let me share a bit of news: Any Game(tm) is in production and available for purchase. However, the game is only sold directly from the manufacturer. If you are interested in a copy of the game, contact Gateways Books and Tapes requesting a price list. I’m sure they will be happy to hook you up.
However, least you think it necessary to purchase a special game for use with this book, let me assure you that “any game” can mean literally any game—Monopoly, Canasta, Pinochle, Chess, Cribbage, Parcheesi, Domino, Ping Pong, etcetera, so forth, and so on.
In The Any Game Cookbook you’ll find a bountiful buffet of spiritual exercises; a veritable smörgåsbord of gaming recipes. Each recipe is designed to transform the playing of any game into a spiritual gaming experience.
Ordinarily playing a game is… well… um, ordinary. However, with the application of a recipe from this book, you can transform playing any of those aging games gathering dust in the hall closet into a new gaming experience—a spiritual gaming adventure.
Under normal circumstances this would be an ideal time to define what is meant by spiritual and spiritual gaming. I agree, under normal circumstances that would make perfect sense, but, alas, this is not one of those normal circumstances.
This book is intended as a door opener, an invitation for you to explore your experience, an invitation for you to take a guided tour of your spiritual nature. I have no intention of limiting your potential horizons by definitions and head-brain explanations.
If you want to compare notes after you’ve made a few journeys of your own, let’s talk.
UrthGame’s Prosperity Path Games are built using cutting edge opengl 3d technology — similar to that you’d find in any modern 3d shooter. However, Prosperity Path Orbs (that’s what they call their games) have no shooting of the killing variety. In fact, there is no killing.
Not that I mind shooting or killing in video games. Heck, I think I’ve set the all time record for the most kills and personal deaths in Team Fortress during the same game. It’s all pixels. And Team Fortress happens to be a game that has managed to incorporate shooting without violence. You can search my blogs if you are wondering how the heck this is possible. Let’s just say that violence is not measured by red pixels on the screen. It is measured more by the intention and attitude of the developers and players. Continue reading
My take on violence in gaming.
First of all, let me say that I don’t associate the number of red pixels on the screen with the level of violence. I don’t necessarily find pixel representations of body parts flying off in every direction to be particularly violent.
My definition of violence has more to do with abuse of power, inflicting will, cruelty, hate, and disregard for the beingness of others. These forms of nasty behavior are totally independent of the normal standards for violence. In fact, some of the worst cases may look to the casual observer totally benign.
Let’s consider a game that some might find violent — which I find totally non-violent. That would be Team Fortress. First of all, TF has a great deal of killing going on. hundreds and thousands of deaths per game.
Thing is, when the character dies, the player is just teleported back to the “spawn.” Spawn is the entrance point into the game. So respawning just means to go back to the entry point.
This can be very inconvenient. If the player is in the middle of running the flag back to his or her base and gets killed, then the player ends up back in their own base — sans flag. So now the player has to fight their way back to the flag again. So in this sense, death is equivalent to “having one’s forward progress thwarted.”
But, then again there are occasions when being killed doesn’t thwart one’s forward progress — it helps. Such an example would be: the enemy are over running your base and you need to get back to help defend it. Well, getting killed can get you back to the base pretty quick. So depending on whether or not the server has “insta-spawn” working, dying can be a quick jaunt home and quite helpful.
A game that many might not find violent is Tetris. Heck, there’s no killing, no blood, no guts. So how could anyone find it violent? Well, I do.
What about Tetris do I consider violent? The unrelenting grind — ever increasing difficulty with no reprieve. This is a characteristic of many arcade games. The idea is to collect quarters. One way to make this happen is to up the difficulty level without relief. Just make it harder and harder until the player inevitably fails.
I believe non-arcade Tetris could be improved by introducing milestones and plateaus periodically. Every now and then give the player a level that is a celebration of progress earned. This level would be slightly (ever so slightly) less difficult than the one just before — perhaps even introduce a novel/fun aspect in the form of graphics and sound. The Mario Bros secret coin collection areas were a bit like this.
“Barely hanging on” is NOT the best experience — and certainly needs a reprieve periodically. Consider Algebra class. Many text books and class curricula are designed to introduce new material every day. This puts the students in the position of starting every class in the state of not-knowing. Hopefully the teach will usher the students from not-know to know during the course of the class. This happens. Not all the time. But a good deal of the time. Something that rarely happens is for the teacher to shepard the students from “know” to “handle.” Handle is a condition that comes after know. It involves using one newly acquired ability in way that affirm one’s knowledge and deepens one’s understanding.
A good way to introduce handling into a course curriculum is to insert one day out of three in which the knowledge gained in the previous two days is used to solve problems. These problems would be commensurate with the newly acquired skill level. The problems could be constructed by altering those used on the previous two days so that they looked new and different, but in reality were solvable using the already known material.
This gives the students an experience of “Hey, I’m pretty cool — I can do this.” Unless a teacher is on a campaign to bring home the lesson that they (the teacher) are super cool and know a bunch of shit the students don’t know, then I would recommend trying the introduction of “handling” as a goal in education. How sad is it to watch a third-grade teacher that is wrapped up in proving to 8 year olds that she is smarter than they are.
Tetris is one of the most addictive games in the world, and is super successful in financial terms. Don’t believe for one second that I am waiting for them to redesign the game. They have a game that works for the sellers. I’m just saying that maybe it is not working so well for the players and the society in which they live. Kids that feel good about their ability to do, versus kids that hang in as long as they can then stumble and fall. The machine of commerce may prefer the hang in, stumble and fall mode. I think it is better for the soul of society if we venture into the area of “feeling good about our ability to do.”
This is a mini-faq stimulated by recent question and answer email exchanges between myself and several folks on the Prosperity Path. Continue reading