Saturday, June 26, 2010

RE: Haven't Used a Single Wish [not about Magic]

I just wanted to briefly add-on to Patrick Chapin's non-Magic article on It's probably worth a read, just for something to think about. If nothing else, it informed me of Patrick Chapin's character. He is quite a character.

I just wanted to translate his reasoning into more strategic, game-related terms. Because if we are on the same page of Magic understanding, I think I can bring a new perspective into it that we can probably understand. Also this is just fun for me to think about and elaborate on.

My understanding of his particular stance on the issue of Not Taking a Free Wish is that taking the wish implies that one is ready to enter Stage 3. A person's life is like the stages of a game - there's the early, mid, and late. But all that truly matters to most of us, is the midgame, which should compose the majority of our lives. The early game is when goals have not yet been formed. We need to learn more to be able to form goals. As we grow, we learn enough to know what kind of goals we want. The midgame is a permanent loop of:

form a goal, work towards that goal, achieve that goal, start over

The loop can actually break and loop back at any point, but it always starts from the beginning of having a goal or a "wish".

The more times we perform this complete loop, the more we accomplish - and the more full of "stuff" our lives become. According to my view, optimizing life would require that we start our midgames as early as possible and never actually enter Stage 3, or the late game. In that way, we could continue to get the most out of life and keep learning, keep achieving new heights, and grasping our dreams, which would continuously alter. And we would just keep aiming for more and more. And achieving more and more.

Stage 3 is when new goals stop being formed, and we are ready to bask in our life's accomplishments. Or, perhaps, when we are ready to just give up and get it over with. I think of it as prepping for death. But some people like the idea of basking. And it sounds enjoyable. I envision that many people's big wishes would involve reaching Stage 3 immediately. In other words, being gifted with lots of money, a perfect house, a perfect spouse, a permanent vacation, etc. Winning a Pro Tour, perhaps? That's probably crossed your mind once or twice.

But Chapin already delineated why cheating into Stage 3 this way isn't worth it.

In my mind, it is another way of saying "I am prepared to accept the fact that death may come the day after. I have given up my midgame. I am prepared for the end, now." The ability to have a midgame is what's so important here. It translates into a certain self-capacity, a freedom, an ability to draw cards from your library and play spells from your hand. Even subtly implying that you want less of this capacity or are ready to cheat past any number of loops necessary to get what you want in life, is a form of concession. It can be as subtle as looking at the top card of your library to see what your next draw would be (or would have been, at that point).

Chapin, in particular, seems to be very strict about not wanting to concede any of this capacity and not giving up any of his loops. He wants all his loops, and he wants to go through each one.

Personally, I feel asking for $100 is acceptable as long as $100 is reasonably available to you through normal, even if time-consuming, ways. Some of life's loops are probably worth skipping if they're not gaining you a lot by going through them. But there are still subtle and sinister implications to this, even. You should value $100 as $100. If you suddenly achieve $100 through a wish, then in all likelihood, you will value $100 at some quantity less than you did before, which could be a bad place to be. But I'm probably exaggerating because, eh, it's just $100, right?

The point is there is definitely a curve to Wishes. I do not know what the curve looks like or where any of the thresholds are, but as you keep scaling up, the worse it gets. Asking for $10 seems pretty harmless, compared to $100, which seems relatively harmless compared to $1000. To be safe, it is probably best not to wish for anything, as Chapin dictates.

If this article didn't make any sense, I apologize. But it's not that important to understand - I think Chapin's article says it all, really. I just wanted to add supplementary thoughts that might clarify my own interpretations of his article. I took his more grounded, tangible presentation and took it to a more abstract level, which is where my brain operates better. Not to mention using game theory terms for life is just fun!

Probably will never write non-Magic related articles after this one, though. It's much more relevant to abstractify an actual game, than it is life. Life is not really something to be handled as a Game. The two are not remotely equivalent. But I can try to use game-related terms to describe Life, and it might be insightful to somebody, so for this one time, I will give myself that liberty.

Also, any mentions of "why not use a wish for altruistic purposes" will be ignored because they miss the point.