Tai Chi Y4D15: Gaming the Chi

Wow, I have a long way to go.

interesting? useful? yes, and yes. Wrong? definitely

I did about fifteen minutes of tai chi today.  And that felt like enough. None of this effort to do an hour, none of the effort to do half-an-hour. Just once through the two qi gong forms, and once through the tai chi form, and done.

I’ve been chewing on Gordon’s post on fracking the spirit world for a few days.  It bugs me, but it feels right (even though my effort to diagram what I was thinking about feels wrong).

It’s not that I believe that ancient gods were actually aliens.  It’s not that I believe that aliens and gods are something cooked up out of human consciousness.  It’s not that I believe that faeries are spoofing us.  It’s not that I believe in demons and angels communicating with us.  It’s not that I believe in the universe as some sort of nth-level simulation of reality.

It’s that I can’t honestly say that I don’t.  Sometimes when I’m doing tai chi outside, which I almost but didn’t do today, it’s a significantly better experience because I feel like I’m being watched and protected by entities who look favorably on my work. Sometimes it’s a significantly worse experience because it feels like I’m being watched by entities who are indifferent, or hostile, to my work.  Part of me feels like I’m going to look up and discover a green or pale pink diamond above my head, as if I were a Sims character — or that if I could just look behind me a little bit further, I could see my “stats” hovering around the edges of the first-person game-frame.

In college, the role-playing game club I belonged to would occasionally host “Rosenberg Games”, named for Joel Rosenberg, the author of the Guardians of the Flame series.  In these books, a group of college kids who are mad for a Dungeons and Dragons-like game are transported into the world of their game-master, and sent on an epic quest across the world to find a way to bring their D&D game-master into the world along with themselves; and in the process, they discover that … they can’t. There’s no way back. And there’s more to it than that.  But in “Rosenberg Games”, the idea was that we played ourselves. We tried to estimate what our stats would be in the game system in which we were playing, and what skills we would have, and then play from there.

These games were incredibly difficult from a survival standpoint.  They brought you into straight conflict with your sense of yourself.  How many kobolds could I defeat? The answer is, an unpleasantly few number… which was challenging when there were an unpleasantly large number of them. The number of times I died in “Rosenberg games” was small — but it was always predicated on the let me run and hide strategy.

As a large guy, neither running nor hiding is a particularly effective tactic. Alas.

And ultimately, the strategy to keep most of these “Rosenberg games” alive for more than a game session or two was to engage in some “training montages”, grant a bit of experience to every player, give them the chance to buy some extra skills and tools, and otherwise improve on their existing condition.  We would have done better going to the gym and joining the fencing team for real, but … we were nerds.  And we live and learn.

Yet… It occurs to me that I’ve been playing a training montage in real-time over the last four years.  That I could, legitimately, claim a point or two of skill in a martial art or two, that I could claim some sword-fighting skills that didn’t exist twenty years ago.  I’m older, but in some ways I’m more physically fit now than I was in my junior year of college.  Even if today isn’t a particularly fantastic practice day, it’s still a sight better than what I was.  The skills growth isn’t virtual, anymore.  It’s not based on points, but practice.

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