Play the Character, not the game
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Article by FireCat
Copyright 00/00/0000
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One day, two incredibly bored college graduates were wandering along, when one of them idly suggested to the other "Hey, I have an idea. Let's go in that game store over there, and find something to play.".

The other agreed, and they wandered in, only to discover an extensive collection of games; they could not decide which to get, but then agreed to split up and search half the store each, looking for the best game.

An hour later, after each of them had agonizingly gone over every game and found what they believed to be the best one, they met up;the first had found a game of Monopoly, and the second had found a role-playing game.

They only had enough money between them to get one of them, however, and they argued for a while about which one to get, each holding by their own choice. Finally the store-keeper took pity on them (or perhaps grew annoyed at the disturbance, who can tell), and offered a discount; he would let them have both the games, but they should come back after they had played, and let him know which one they liked better, returning the other one.

They agreed, and after the two had left the store, they still felt that the matter of which game was better, should be settled. Unfortunately, as they were going to leave the town and travel their separate ways, now that they had graduated, informing the store-keeper as to whether or not they had enjoyed the game (not to mention returning the other) would be rather difficult. So they made a pact with each other, that they would each take their games with them when they left, and try it out for a decade; and that, in ten years time, they would reunite at the store and compare notes.

So they left the town, and ten years later, both entered the shop at the same time, on the same day, as they had left it ten years before. The store-keeper was there, to welcome them in with a smile, as though no time had passed, and spoke not at all of their absence. The Monopoly player was the first to recount his experiences. He declared that he had had fun with it, and recited as proof his greatest wealth of all time, most properties ever owned at once, quickest win, most times around the board, and a great deal of other statistics.

Then the role-play'ing gamer asked him, if he had only played a few games; affronted, he replied, "No, I have spent much of these ten years seeking out other people to play it with, and played a lot of games.". She then further inquired, "Yet why do you have so few scores?"; relieved, he answered, "Because once I had beaten my own high score, I had no need to keep around the old; I have plenty of scores that are below my best, but only one highest.", and concluded his report.

Next went the role-play'ing gamer, and she said that she had enjoyed the game; and that she had no statistics to prove it, for the worth of her experience was not measurable. At times she had been very poor, or in desperate straits; at times very rich, or well off; at times not having fun, but at others in happy times. She explained that this was because she had become the character, and the character had all those feelings, and circumstances, at times; but overall, she felt that these had contributed to the experience.

The Monopoly player asked her "Yes, but can't you tell us anything about the GAME itself, something that will tell us a bit about it?"; she serenely replied, "No, because I haven't played the game since I made the character. For the last ten years, I've been playing the character , not the game !". He said, "Well then, I'd say you can't truly claim that game is better; after all, you admitted yourself you haven't played it."; she was wordless, with no protest, yet suddenly I spoke up. I don't think they had been expecting me to do so; certainly I had remained silent for much of this. I told them, "When you've gotten to be my age, you come to realize a few things. All the fun you've had is in your past, and while it was sure fun then, all you've got now is memories. In the end, all you've got is memories. Now, you, lad" I indicated the Monopoly player, "have a few trophies to remember your best moments by, though with how you've only bothered to keep around one of each, you're precious little to show for all the hours you've invested into the game." ; I then turned to the role-play'ing gamer, and said "Now you, have a history that's rich with moments where something happened, and every bit of those is important to the character, is a vital part of them.", noting his scowl and her smile, I quickly changed his to a smirk and hers to a frown by adding "But neither of those is important, in the long run.".

I continued, "You see, when you've relived all those memories, you'll have nothing left . . . and it is at that time, when you are bored out of your skull with all your memories, knowing them as well as any could hope, that the most precious thing in the world becomes . . . the ability to make new memories.". I looked each of them hard in the eye, and finished "If I'm not wrong, that makes the young lady here a person with the most valuable thing in the world; for, with her 'character', she can experience new events, which will further alter her character, and give her new memories . . . completely interwoven with the old.". The man glared at me and then muttered something under his breath; since he didn't know me that well, I affected to be hard of hearing, and held out his bag for him. He made no move to take it from me, but instead stormed right out of the store. I turned to the lady and said,

"Are you planning to stay in town after this?", and she answered
"No, I leave on a plane tomorrow.".

As she was turning to leave, I offered her the opportunity to stay later this afternoon and observe our game; eyes sparkling, she accepted. So that's my story of a Monopoly player, and a role-play'ing gamer; and if there's a moral to this story, it's only this:

Play the character, not the game.
Play the character, not the game.
Play the character, not the game.