I’ve started framing lots of things based on RPGs recently, and I’ve found a really easy way to think about my goals and actions.
Quests, GP, and XP.
Quests are attempts to accomplish something that I care about. They directly move the world into a more preferable state. Slay the dragon, move to San Francisco, whatever. Quests have goals, endpoints, and take place in a larger campaign and story. Pretty straightforward.
GP normally stands for Gold Pieces, but I use it as a stand-in for the more general category of fungible resources.
Fungibility is the property of being able to substitute one for another. One dollar is as good as any other dollar. Oil of a particular grade is fungible. Grains of corn are fungible. Lovingly prepared meals are less fungible.
Fungibility is the externalized superpower that lets you turn typing into having a house, via money.
Fungible resources are things which are useful for accomplishing things, but most uniquely, they’re useful for accomplishing a range of things. You can turn a dollar into a lot of things, and having fungible resources gives you flexibility. $800 in the bank can be running away to China money, a bunch of meals, a laptop, etc. Having it in the bank rather than as any of those objects is pretty cool, because it means that if I suddenly need $800 of stuff to happen, I can just buy it.
XP stands for experience points. They build your skills up, and make you more capable.
Skills are generative. You can’t trade skills for anything in the way you can trade GP, and getting more skills doesn’t directly change world the way that quests do.
Skills need to be used in order to change things, and are kind of like fungible quests. They’re able to be used in a variety of situations to improve the world in some particular way. Like GP, they’re useless on they’re own, but awesome when used. Unlike GP, your skills don’t get depleted as you use them.
XP is weirder than GP and Quests. You kind of need to be connecting yourself to the world around you in a way that’s different from the way you do with GP or in Quests. If two different people did the same physical things, then they would complete the same quests. If two different people get the same GP, then they have the same spending power.
But it’s not like that for XP. Two different people can be accomplishing the exact same object level tasks, and getting different amounts of XP for it, and even getting XP in different skills.
One easy way to get more XP is to push your comfort zone. Doing easy tasks won’t get you nearly as much XP as doing harder ones. Most videogames get this right. What not all of them seem to do though, is reflect the fact that you can get XP for failing at things too. So long as you’re changed and build skills by what you’re doing, you’re getting XP.
Games don’t really reflect that you can also change what XP you get by changing what you pay attention to. This deserves a longer post.
So yeah. To level up, go out of your comfort zone and pay attention. This ending is kind of lame, but if people are interested I’ll continue the train of thought.