compass atop a bowl of roasted coffee beans set inside gold laurels Tomasius Space

Ex dubium scientia. From doubt [comes] knowledge.

Star Citizen

Port-lit, metallic, Star Citizen Logo comprising a single cruciform star encapsulated by a wreath and set between the words STAR and CITIZEN

Star Systems
In-system view of a O-Type Main Sequence Star

Space Trials
Shuttle Class space ship

Cutter Class space ship

ASW Frigate Class space ship

Endurance Cutter Class space ship

Heavy Ordinance Endurance Cutter Class space ship

Life in Overlap

Technical Requirements
Starboard-lit, metallic, Star Citizen Logo comprising a single cruciform star encapsulated by a wreath and set betewen the words STAR and CITIZEN

Due Diligence

What is an RPG?
It all began with pen and paper

Gaming Concepts
USB Iconography

Gaming Psychology
Neural network node showing connective reinforcement

The Psychology of the RPG and Internet Games


Warning! Danger Will Robinson!
This is a Work In Progress!

May contain fruit and nuts. Made on machinery that occasionally processes DDT, nerve gas and nuclear waste. Please seek immediate medical attention if:

  1. You lose consciousness or begin to exhibit symptoms of rigor mortis
  2. You suddenly become deadly to mosquitos
  3. Others begin to comment on your "healthy" glow

Some statements may be overly harsh or attribute to others more talent or deliberation than can be reasonably expected. Moreover, there may be the occasional factual error. There will also be plenty of grammatical and spelling errors to go around. These defects will be corrected over time. For now, keep a few grains of salt handy - or better still, keep the salt shaker in easy reach!

For some of us, gaming is about enriching our experience of life by emphasizing the recollection of what is good and trivializing what is regrettable. This is a facet of the power we all have to choose what we wish to emphasize from our memories and experience so that if life is unpleasant and, even if people who have "done the right thing" to avoid this unpleasantness believe that we "should" suffer that unpleasantness, we yet still have the power to deny that unpleasantness. In this sense of consciously and cognitively emphasising the thoughts which give us joy, we can make our peace with the maelstrom. We can make sense of the chaos which affects us. ultimately, we alone, in the private solitude of our own minds can find our contentment even in the midst of even "well deserved" misfortune. The power to do this is ours alone and no-one can deprive us of it because only we, ourselves can choose what we think about and when it is expedient to change what we are thinking about.

This is the theme ever present in artwork depicting the sharp contrast between luxury and tortuous peril. Look again, if you will, at the picture above. What do you see? What strikes you? What do you remember most?

Luxury is not a material thing but is bound entirely to the choices we make concerning the thoughts we will live with and the thoughts we simply will not tolerate in the sanctity of our own minds. By all means, make the very most you can of the reality of life around you but never forget, especially in difficult times, that the power to choose a happier thought is yours alone - and a happier thought may not be a solution but it is certainly an improvement. So, what has this got to do with gaming?

After a depressed colleague introduced me to a very impressive computer-driven RPG, a game which preoccupied his mind in the midst of the hysterically unreasonable conditions of the job, I noticed the way the game was designed to bring brightness and colour to the forefront of cognitive focus. No stranger to depression, myself, it was not hard for me to see why the game was compelling and the beneficial impact it had for someone suffering from depression. Yes, we still have to come back to the unpleasant realities just as we have to step out of our homes into the rain and sleet to get things done; but that doesn't mean we live and eat and sleep in the rain and sleet. Human beings invest an enormous proportion of their work into what is ultimately a sanctuary; a shelter from the rain and the sleet and the unpleasant realities of the outdoor world. In much the same way, entertainment in the form or literature, theatre, film and video games serves to give us periodic psychological shelter from the tempest of reality's stress; taking the forms of anxiety, anger, shame, resentment, want, boredom, and disempowerment.

Just as sleeping out in the rain and sleet will inflict physical illness, such as pneumonia and hypothermia, failure to take shelter from the stresses of life leads to depression and other forms of serious mental illness. "Video" gaming, much like socialising, sport, literature, film and any number of other hobbies, is a healthy response to what life throws at us. However, video gaming can also offer shelter to so many more psychological types than just the ever competetive narcissist or the angry dependent personality: over-represented, over-vocalised; part A + part B or the traditional Blue vs. Red either side of the aisle in Parliament. Taken together, they are a minority and, dare I suggest, not even a third of the overall population but, sadly, for the rest of us, they have the loudest voices, get the most attention and most of everything is contextualized from one of these two points of view - to the point where expressing any point of view contextualized outside these temperament-based perspectives is liable to get one ostracised. No wonder the silent majority is silent - at least until the voting starts!

This is to say that in spite of anything that may be impressed upon you, there are several different gamer archetypes based on the most emphasized needs of several corresponding temperaments or, as Jung would put it, psychological "archetypes". One of the objectives of this article, currently still a work in progress, is to begin to identify and codify a hypothesis of gamer temperament and behaviour based on a need-emphasis framework which came, unfortunately, after the initial forays into formal temperament study and after two world wars had subsequently devastated the academic community with an enormous and societally degenerative impact on academic literacy. By the time Maslow drew a hierarchy of needs from Tolman's purposivism, academics had lost their way in the labarinth of narcissistic competionism and could not respond constructively to the basis of an idea with preliminary detail that was to serve as an example of the potential intricacy of the structure which could apply. Even to this day, the mention of Maslow, in "educated" company, will draw the one-upmanship comment that some people don't have needs or that some needs are not common to all people. Wait, do I no longer need to breath or is that just a case of apoplexy coming on?! So, before moving forward to the 30th Century, we will take a brief journey back in time, to the 20th Century.

First Principles: Purposivism as the Grand Unifying Method of approach to all Psychological Questions

By the 1920s, Myer and Briggs had already converted Jung's psychological types into a commercially viable questionairre which evolved into the Myer-Briggs Type System or MBTS. By the latter half of the 20th Century, this system was the most widely used personality-typing system on both sides of the Iron Curtain. After the Berlin Wall came down, the Russian incarnation, derived from the original MBTS, became known as Socionics. It was the same system expressed from a different perspective. Unfortunately, Jung's system and, by extension both MBTS and Socionics, were purely trait-based and lacked an understanding of common mechanisms which forge the temperament from which those traits emerge as an archetype. It wasn't until the 1930s, more than a decade after Jung's system had already been applied, that Edward Chace Tolman published an extensive survey of behavioural science findings which were unanimous on one thing; that all behaviour is purposive or is implemented as a means to a specific end and this was described in Tolman's own words as "Means-End Theory". This finding was the missing key to the work of Jung, Myer, Briggs and, in the latter half of the century, Gulenko. It is also as fundamental to psychology as the laws of motion are to physics, as quantum mechanics are to chemistry, as the laws of thermodynamics are to thermodynamics, as uniformitarianism and plate tectonics are to geology, and as natural selection is to Palaeontology, Biology and Medicine. We call them grand unifying theories because they bring together disparate parts of the field in a way that not only makes sense but makes accurate predictions throughout the field and in related areas of other fields. Unfortunately, as psychology and psychiatry took on the political role traditionally served by religion, they became tools of politics encumbered with the requirement to be "flexible". At a time when the unlicensed use of radio transmitters was banned in most countries, the discipline simply could not afford to embrace a grand unifying theory lest it tempt the wrath of the state; embroiled as it was in two world wars and, if those weren't enough, the Cold War.

The good news is that the Cold War is over and the state lost - on both sides of the Iron Curtain. There was no nuclear extermination of the outgroup demographics and we can have this conversation in front of the vast audience of the Internet without fear of more than the misplaced wrath of subsequent academic generations who simply did not understand the politics behind allowing such a practical idea to be quietly stored away and forgotten; hidden behind a smokescreen of sophistry and the usual Red vs. Blue propaganda. It's not the first time things like this have happened. Mendel's recessive genetics were certainly not convenient to the Eugenics movement and did not emerge into public consciousness until the pseudoscientific nature of Eugenics was finally exposed following World War II. It's all too easy to forget that politics is the business of gaining materiel advantage by causing others to confuse fantasy and reality - and that's why any scientific field corrupted by political interest rapidly degenerates into a pseudoscience. It's not goodies and baddies. It's just a consequence of how several different temperament demographics work and play together - and occasionally try to murder one-another en masse when the delusion of superiority is used to rationalise ingroup-outgroup mentality.

Hopefully, our understanding of some of the 20th Century issues is broad enough to obviate wasting our thoughts looking for someone to blame. So, I think we are ready to focus on the task at hand, without the alienness of other temperaments becoming an excuse to pass judgement on people we do not understand. Instead, gaining that understanding of people with different temperaments is the point of this exploration of human behaviour. Moreover, it is by looking at behavioural archetypes as a product of purposive attempts to meet emphasised physiological and, ultimately, emotional needs, that we can begin to derive a system of understanding behaviour from the perspective of someone who's personality is foreign or even completely alien to our own experience.

Although Maslow found the study of mental illness antithetical to understanding the needs of healthy human beings, I think that those seven forms of stress, I mentioned earlier, reflect what a healthy individual tries to avoid or mitigate in attempting to meet their most emphasized emotional needs.

Stress as the error code raised by unmet emotional needs:
An examination of the needs underpinning various forms of stress.

We begin our exploration of human needs with a brief detour to examine and separate the typical emotional responses to extreme stresses on the order of threatening life, livelihood and the ability to procreate. The competetive, narcissistic mindset breaks this down into "winners" and "losers", "alpha" and "beta" and, consequently,the whole "fight or flight" notion. This completely ignores a third hazard response which is very colourfully described by Sun Tsu, as follows:

At the crossroads, join hands with allies.

Sun Tsu, Art of War, 11:12.

Evidently, the alternative to "fight" or "flight" is to flock together with others and act in unison with the group. Such responses to danger find emotional expression in hatred, terror and bigotry. As you can probably imagine, these responses may well prove effective in dire circumstances but are chronically ill-equipped for the art of simply getting along with others. It is worth bearing this dynamic in mind because reversion to these survival strategies can be unexpected in the context of behaviour which more commonly revolves around improving ones quality of life in accordance with one's most emphasized emotional need. Moreover, these dynamics may impact on corresponding life or death play which exists as much in video game activities as it does in non-virtual play activities.

The human desire for quality of life is driven by the need to overcome or mitigate stressful emotions such as anxiety, anger, shame, envy, want, boredom and disempowerment. Once again, I regard these negative emotions as the human equivalent of error codes which have evolved to guide us away from conditions that reduce ones chances of passing on ones genes. The corresponding positive emotional states could be listed, respectively, as something along the lines of hope, justification, pride, exultation, satiation, curiosity and assurance.

A purposive Hypothesis of Temperament beyond Kikashi

If we look at temperament as a procedural means to an end, the end being biological benefit or prosperity, then we are bound to the view that temperament is an evolved pattern of behaviour which minimises biological harm and maximises biological benefit. Good and evil, from the perspective of the organism, function as the pathways to biological benefit and biological harm, respectively.

The Survivalist

On the sliding scale of hope vs. anxiety: the strategy of the Survivalist is to reduce all risks and avoid risky situations; often associated with the development of procedures and acquisition of tools for mitigating risk. The social variation to the strategy is an imposition of procedures and shared access to risk minimisation tools which can extend to what only appears to be a crusade against social imbalances that are not always related to justice and is more about dotting 'i's and crossing 't's than righting any actual wrongs. "Evil" is perceived in terms of imposed risk via the neglect of risk minimisation procedures and the introduction of new or unmitigated risks.

The Crusader

On the sliding scale of justification vs. anger: the strategy of the Crusader is to defend against known depredations, however minor, in order to stamp out the impact of abuse. The social aspect of this is the organised opposition against persons and entities perceived as being responsible for injustices. "Evil" is perceived in terms of the harm cause by negligence and malice but is all too often extended to include any dissent of disagreement. Not to be confused with "SJW" which is a meaningless political term that has more association with the mimicry of Crusader behaviour by what could be an extension of Survivalist social behaviour.

The Consigliere

On the sliding scale of pride vs shame: the strategy of the Consigliere is to become the influence behind the throne; wielding power without liability. The social aspect is to gain the trust of power and power backers and, in the process, draw them into a complex and effective system of mutual benefit. "Evil" is perceived in terms of what can damage anonymity and expose the private transactions and relationships one has with others.

The Champion

On the sliding scale of exultation vs. resentment: the strategy of the Champion is to compete, in a social setting, with support reflecting status within the community based on victory over others - which turns to resentment in areas where others may have a natural head start. The social variation on the theme often revolves around the denigration of rivals as a way to further competitive status. "Evil" is perceived in terms of what causes damage to status including the ability of others to "compete" from left field.

The Accountant

On the sliding scale of satiation vs. want: the strategy of the Accountant is to put away as much as possible for a rainy day. The social variation on the behaviour revolves around mutual respect for property and customary social conventions but, otherwise, tends to be passive. "Evil" is perceived in terms of what can destabilise this process - whether by destruction of the hoard or interference with the process of hoarding.

The Boss

On the sliding scale of stimulation vs. boredom: the strategy of the Boss is to mount the throne, whether an existing throne of one invented for the purpose, so as to direct others while one does what one will. The social aspect of this behaviour leaves no room for doubt or decision-making on the part of others and often leads to conflict when others wish to be consulted. "Evil" is perceived in terms of any seditious influence which can interfere with one's ability to direct others or otherwise drag one down into the mundane.

The Professor

On the sliding scale of assurance vs. disempowerment: the strategy of the Professor is to learn how to do whatever may be needed to be done and, in the process, build or otherwise acquire the necessary tools to cover any reasonable contingency. The social variation on the behaviour revolves around honesty and a willingness to look at complex problems from different angles - often from either side of mentor-Protégé relationships. "Evil" is perceived in terms of destruction of the tools or interference (e.g. regulation) of tool usage as well as with any form of censorship or dishonesty which can narrow or contaminate the information pool.

If only it were that simple!

As in life, when playing the role of any given temperament, the technique is to pursue that temperament's objective as the primary measure of prosperity. It's not so much whether the pursuit of this objective is appropriate but about learning how the pursuit of the given objective results in character life stability and success; as it does in real life for those who do not carry the temperament to the extreme of becoming a personality disorder. And this leads us into the stormy waters of mental health.

Healthy human beings typically have learned two to three behavioural patterns or temperaments from their parents and, possibly, from a significant adult in their life. So a person is not just a Boss or a Champion. More often than not, you will see a combination of temperaments wherein the person will naturally swing between two temperaments, for example, Professor and Crusader, depending on context and perceived relative success of the selected behavioural response under the circumstances in question. So, in this example, a Professor-Crusader will behave as per the Professor temperament but in certain, specific circumstances, will switch to Crusader temperament behaviour.

By contrast, the person with the singular temperament has not learned effective alternative strategies to the ones suited to his or her most emphasized need. As a consequence, the person's perspective is narrowed, there is difficulty relating to people who are different and a proneness to the personality disorder corresponding to the temperament in question. Experimentally, this can be explored by role-playing the singular temperament without regard for circumstances and conseqeuences - all while developing the role-played behaviour and allowing the role's attitude to evolve. I'd predict that this will naturally result in role-play behaviour which falls within the diagnostic criteria for the corresponding personality disorder.

There's an additional axis for psychological dysfunction revolving around the degree of solipsism. I'd hypothesise that solipsism can degrade the regard and respect one has for others to the point of non-existence and beyond. On the negative end of the scale, antipathy towards others converts guilt into a positive emotion in the sense that others "deserve" to suffer or be harmed. On this side of the scale, temperament continues to be expressed but with an anti-social aspect instead of a social aspect.

Simpler in Application than Theory

Allowing for two sole protectors and one significant adult, the vast majority of cases will fall within a range of 3591 possible temperament profiles, based on this system. This is probably not such good news if you want to write a book; just one book; not an encyclopaedia! If you're looking to build characters for writing, role play outside your temperament, or even just build a behavioural profile on someone you're finding difficult to get along with; the basic elements and rules for how they go together are pretty simple.

  1. Identify responses when imminent danger is perceived.
    a) When threatened, does the subject prepare to fight, run or look to others?
    b) What is the exception to the rule, if any?
    c) And what triggers an exception to the rule, if any?
  2. Identify success strategies and corresponding life-objectives.
    a) What are the typical purposive life strategies pursued by the subject?
    b) When in doubt, what assumptions does the subject make about others in the absence of any motivational or emotional indicators?
    c) What are the exceptions to the rule, if any?
    d) And what triggers each exception to the rule, if any?
  3. Identify capacity for empathy.
    a) Do the lives, feelings and aspirations of others matter to the subject?
    b) If so, does the subject feel good about outcomes which benefit others or does the subject feel good about outcomes which cause harm and suffering?
    c) What is the exception to the rule if any?
    d) And what triggers an exception to the rule, if any?

compass atop a bowl of roasted coffee beans set inside gold laurels
Saturday, ISO: 2024-July-13, 22:23 hours, UTC.