Lately I have been entertaining myself in the evening by playing and replaying Diablo 3.
The general goal of the game is to save the world against evil forces; the means to achieve this goal is to slay said evil forces repeatedly, using combinations of magic, dexterity, strength, vitality and various blunt instruments found on the way. The world can be saved multiple times, and as such there is no clear end to the game; my own current provisional objective is to help my wizard character reach experience level 60.
As the player’s character gains experience, his abilities increase in complexity and power to support the fights against equally increasing enemy forces. Correspondingly, the characteristics of items found on the way become more intricate and powerful. The growth curve is super-linear, possibly exponential; a character laughs at its puny and feeble self from two or three experience levels ago. Similarly, the items picked for an alter ego yesterday are worth pebbles to today’s incarnation.
The immediacy of battles and the prospect of the next experience level keep the player focused on the future, especially the short term; this tendency is not unlike people’s meatspace interest towards the immediacy of next month’s supply of food and shelter.
I found it interesting to reflect on how the discovery of a basic blunt mace would have made the day of a beginner player, and how the least dangerous fiend at level 50 is thousands times more powerful than a character just started. How would your former self from ten years ago deal with the obstacles you are encountering today? If you were to meet your former self, would your current abilities and experiences have been of any use back then? Conversely, how would you deal today with those situations you found challenging in the past?