Monday, June 14, 2010

Experience

Late last night a possible tornado passed over my city. I learned I can get myself and 7 animals into the basement within 5 minutes with no preparation whatsoever. This is good to know. Thanks to the adrenaline rush and the 4 hour nap where my bedtime used to be, I'm a little tired this morning. I hope to go to bed early tonight, but we'll see what God has in mind.

On with the post.

When I began to role play so many, many years ago, I didn't understand the concept of Experience (XP). In games (I think this is true of today's video games, as well), you gain XP whenever you successfully do something. Fight an orc and live, gain XP. Find the treasure, gain XP. Use a spell correctly, gain XP. Gain enough XP and you move up in levels and gain access to better stuff, knowledge and enemies.

The temptation when you are very young is to skip those first levels and jump right to the "good stuff." Why start at 1 where skeletons can hurt you when you can go straight to 20 and blast those puppies into powder with a word?

Well, the simple reason is experience. When you're a new player, there are things you don't know about yourself, about your teammates, about your enemies - about everything, really. Starting at level 1 (which I never did. While I was a newbie, my teammates were veterans, so we tended to start around 15 and they gave me a lot of advice until I wised up) gives you a chance to learn stuff with a chance of survival. Survival is important if you like the character you're playing. If you don't care, then I guess it's okay to die a lot while you learn.

FV is the same way. I have a few neighbors who help tend other neighbors' farms. I've done it myself. But the problem with a higher level player "helping out" a lower level player like that is the lower level player misses out on experience. They won't know how to play if they don't play. Mistakes are as important as success because mistakes teach us to pay attention or suffer.

Life requires XP, too. There's a reason we start out as babies and grow up. If we walked out of the womb fully adult with no XP, aside from the terrible physical consequences to our moms, we would probably get squashed like bugs in the first 24 hours. Learning to survive in the world is all about gaining XP. Some people can get it by watching other people make mistakes. Most people aren't that lucky.

I've been thinking about XP and writing. The sad fact is you have to do this writing stuff to get better at it. You have to write your own stories. You have to study the craft to improve. You have to research the market or research an agent who researches the market. Is it annoying? Um, yeah. Still have to do it. Yes, sometimes somebody falls into success without doing that stuff, but without XP, how well will he handle that success?

Life is a journey, and XP is what we gather on the way. Keep in mind, though, while it's hard to get, it's great once you got it.

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