taking it to the next level

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-9-54-40-pmI just powered up to a new level, and I’m feeling pretty good about it.

It’s an unusual multiplayer game, one in which you don’t get to redo a level if you die. If you die, the game is pretty much over.

Instead, you get to learn from each level, trying to remember all the ways in which you gained strength, lost energy, acquired tokens, received gifts, and overcame obstacles. It’s a lot to keep in your head, and at times I’ve found it useful to write things down. (I was delighted when I found that other players had done so too.)

At first, you only interact with your clan, but as the game progresses you learn to interact with strangers. Through these interactions, you build communities of support with both clan members and strangers; it takes time to learn how to do all this without having to retrace your steps.

I remember in the first few levels I was sure I would never get any good at it. And by the time I was at level 17 I thought I’d mastered it. Boy, was I wrong. Looking back at the game, it seems like I still have a lot to learn.

Every level brings new challenges, and sometimes the things you learned in earlier levels are not as useful as you hoped. Characters you had come to count on are depleted. Or even dead. Points you had earned have less value than you thought. And sometimes they have more. It can be very confusing and unpredictable. You can make a lot of progress in one level. Other levels seem interminable.  There are mileposts and other markers, some of which turn out to be empty. Most are deeply gratifying, however, especially as you begin to realize the contribution other players make to your success.

Sometimes other players at the earliest levels turn out to be sages and players at a more advanced level turn out to be fools. The whole game is about being alert to all these other players while you try to maintain your own focus. It can be exhausting. Success always turns out to be dependent on your judgment about the challenges and your discernment about other players.

I’m glad it’s a multiplayer game. It wouldn’t be as much fun or as rewarding if you had to play alone. You can pick a partner if you want to. I have had a particularly gracious and helpful one for over 40 levels, which is not too common. But many have stepped up when my own avatar was weak or lost.

I just reached level 64 today and here are some things I’ve learned so far:

  • Hoarding is not rewarded. In fact, the value of things increases as you give them away.
  • Lone rangers have it really tough. There is tremendous power in community.
  • You can’t play hard all the time.
  • Sometimes the more tokens you accumulate, the harder it is to move forward.
  • The more relationships you cultivate, the easier it can be—unless you cultivate the wrong ones.
  • The greatest treasure turns out to be a gift, and it is available to anyone who seeks it.

It turns out the game is time-limited, so I’m not sure how many more levels I will survive. But I’m feeling pretty good, as I said. As far as I can tell, there are quite a few more levels left.

Each of them is a gift, as are the many other players who wished me Happy Birthday today.

3 thoughts on “taking it to the next level”

  1. Happy birthday (belated though it may be)! I found your blog back when you were “freshly pressed” and somehow lost track of it. Very happy to have found it again.

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