The blog where I rant about things that should be obvious to everyone

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The heart of game part 1

A while ago I wrote two post on what game is. At the time I included a lot of PUA concepts and game techniques. But now as I've been thinking and studying more about it I believe that there are basically three main principles from which all other game ideas come from. I'm going to break it up into three posts so stay tuned for the next two.

The first and most important principle is state control. State is your internal mood or mind set. Your state could be described as happy, sad, angry, contemplative, distracted, etc. State control refers to how well you manage your state in the context of social interactions. That is if you are in one state how easy is it for someone else to change your state. If it is very easy, then your place in the social pecking order is going to be low. People will often change your state just for fun. They do this because ultimately changing your state gives them a kind of social power. Kids have an intuitive sense about this, and this is why they tease. If a kid who is getting teased does not change their state then the teaser will either have to escalate until they do get a state change or stop because they are not getting any power from the interaction, in fact by failing to get a state change they will eventually have to change their state and therefore lose power.

The key is not to just have an immovable state, but to recognize where the changes are coming from, and not let those changes come from the prompting of other people. For example if some one comes up to you and informs you that your friend just died, they would not be taking any social power from you if you changed your state to sad or even distressed. They did not change you state, the information that they relayed to you changed your state. If on the other hand they followed up by saying “Ha got you, your friend is fine” then it is an attempt to take power from you. You can change this situation to your advantage by in turn changing their state. So if you tell them “That's not cool” and then don't let them leave until they have apologized (changed their state), then the situation changed from them taking power from you to you taking power from them.

Here are a few examples of how state control works.

In a recent In Mala Fide article the author describes an interaction between him and his wife. As recorded in the article it goes
By giving this angry response he is changing his state at her prompting from whatever it was to angry, and by doing so he is giving her power. The exception would be if she backed down after his response and was apologetic, but as you can imagine, that was not how it went down.

When I was in high school we had a tradition for birthdays. If they found out that it was your birthday, during lunch one of the other kids would turn out the lights, announce it, and then the whole cafeteria would sing happy birthday to you. There was a kid, lets call him Bert, who was very easy to illicit a state change from. So some other kids got the idea that it would be funny to announce his birthday and sing to him everyday. Throughout the song he would get up and scream at everyone that “It's not my birthday”. By doing this Bert was demonstrating 0 state control.  This went on for about a week, and it may have gone on even longer if the school officials had not stepped in. If Bert had had more state control he would have either done nothing, or may have tried to change their state by saying something like “Not today guys, my mom just died” and then in the ensuing sympathy “Ha gotcha, man you guys are easy.”

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