Aug. 21st, 2014

i've noticed some similarities in
1. playing games that involve a lot of long-term caretaking, specifically ones you play on devices that are more or less always on your person, such as Ingress and Kim Kardashian Hollywood and the iOS Sims game
2. Quantified Self sorts of ideas: making numeric systems out of personal self-care (exercise, work, sleep, etc.) through, effectively, body augmentation, and using those data to arrange goals and analyze progress.

for example, the process of tracking self-powered movement (walking, running, biking) with endomondo on my phone leaves marks in a digital space, which i then track and do some analysis on in a spreadsheet; in Ingress, my physical movement through space, punctuated with some calculated button-pressing, leaves marks in a digital space measured by the game's objectives. none of these activities is ever about "winning" in a "finishing" sense; it's all about maintenance and learning new strategies and building new habits.

all of these things use time as currency. in the kardashian game, taking actions requires energy points, which regenerate with time. in ingress, the same thing happens with XM, although you can also get more by moving through space. in the sims, you make progress in the game by completing actions, which take various amounts of time during which the sim doing the action cannot do anything else. (every action is atomic; there is no multitasking. even long-term tasks like baking and gardening completely occupy the sim's faculties to the point where another sim cannot, say, talk to them during this process. this is mitigated by the fact that you control a small army of sims and can be clever about dividing their labor.)

if ingress is Augmented Reality then so is QS. these are both ways of giving us access to the same space we didn't have before; ways of superimposing new layers of information on a structure that lies unchanged.

sometimes i refer to games/activities like this as "gardening projects." they are played with spurts of concentrated, calculated action, followed by periods of inattention and patience. you can only influence initial arcs of progression, nudging things in certain directions using predictive intuition, rather than directly control their course.

imposing a quantified/gamified structure atop my own life has been helpful to me in the past. in the months after my mom got sick, i had a spreadsheet i named "LIFE RPG" where i gave myself points for daily aspects of life: cleaning, socializing, working, exercising, and creating. they were instructions that felt external and thus trustable. it made an answer to that sinking feeling accompanied by the question, "what am i supposed to do?"

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chrisamaphone

August 2014

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