If we could, would we ‘hack’ ourselves better lives?

I have been thinking (ha, isnt this how a lot of my posts start?) for a long time about RPGs and the similarity to real life, and if lessons can be extrapolated.  A big thing I have been stuck on, is why does work generally suck where we ‘grind’ our lives away, but in an RPG we suffer the grind for some reward at the end.  What is the difference, what is the reward at the rpg end that we enjoy or at least willingly grind for, whereas in life we try to avoid the grind as much as possible?  I do not have an answer yet, only thoughts.

However, one thing I recently came aware of was if we could ‘hack’ ourselves better gear (money, abilities, items etc) would we, and would it make us happier?  Surprisingly I believe the answer is NO.

Think about this for a moment, I am talking about a substantial increase, like winning the lottery, realizing you are actually twice as strong, you got a surprise new car, anything along these lines.  ‘How could I not be happy?’ well…that is the point.  I think the initial jubilation rapidly, and very rapidly turns to melancholy or disinterest simply because we DID NOT EARN IT.

I recently started a new rpg game, and found out there were hacks where I could instant-kill everyone, never die etc ‘whoa cool’! right?  But in reflection, I was like ‘why the fuck would I do this, it would destroy the fun of the game, and what could be ‘fun’ would turn into something not fun, simply because I had broke the game.’

I have had hacks for games before, and quite frankly they are insanely funny, I remember I had a map hack for DOTA and could completely rape, I have had other instantkill hacks for rpgs etc, and while they are fun…they get old.  And once they are old, you are left with a destroyed game that you do not even want to play legitimately anymore.

In real life I am reminded of college where I worked as a tutor beyond my classes, the work was generally not that hard, but certainly took a lot of time I’d have rather been doing elsewhere, but I saved my money and after a year bought a badass mountain bike I had my eye on.  It was great, I loved that bike with pride…I HAD EARNED THAT SHIT.

I had a very rich friend, and upon seeing my bike, within a week went out and bought a better bike, she was happy riding it around…she had some gear hacked to her basically, she did not grind for it, and within a month that bike was outside, unused and forgotten.

Now, I am not saying to go grind for 7$ an hour, but I am saying it is ALL the difference between earning something, and being given something.  That by being given it, we inherent value it less, and may make the rest of our life worse.

This is a pretty high level lesson here, abandon it at your own loss.


14 thoughts on “If we could, would we ‘hack’ ourselves better lives?

  1. You make a valid point: The fact that *you* made your goals come to fruition makes them far sweeter. Working hard to claim a prize can be daunting, depending on the task…but the sense of satisfaction you’re rewarded with more than makes up for it. I think Cracked.com had an article on why people enjoy grinding through videogames…try checking them out, search “game addiction” or “game reward” maybe.

    Hmm, I know that I’d hack myself a male body so I’d not have Gender Dysphoria anymore. Failing that, I’d hack like $500,000 to help myself and my friends/family. $8,000 would make me completely debt free, I’d give enough to my friends that they could send all their kids to college and pay off their car loans, my mother could get a bigger building for her business, my siblings would have no excuse to not go to college or trade school…and I would have the finances to open my own gaming store next year. Any money left over would go to the SPCA and food pantry I volunteer at.

  2. There is a huge difference that you are over looking. In MMORPG’s you grind for better stuff. You spend 3 hours mining to get that shiny new sword. You spend 4 hours running errands for NPC’s to get the magical armor of awesomeness. This is not what the people grinding in real life are doing. You grind in real life, not to get more stuff, but to not die, to maintain status quo. You spend 45 hours a week repeatedly pushing that button, and what do you get out of it? You don’t die. You are no better off at the end of 45 hours of mindlessly pushing the button than when you started. You simply survived for another week. If you spent that 45 hours grinding in a video game, you would have loads of new really cool stuff.

    As far as hacking reality goes. Hell yea I would do that. There are two ways to “win”. First is follow the story line to the end and kill the NPC’s. This “Win” would be meaningless and sad with insta kill and infiniant HP. The other “Win” is being better than everyone else. Did you ever play Diablo I? It was one of the first onlineish games. They really had no clue what kinds of security would be needed and failed horribly. Every one, and I mean EVERYONE was hacking. There where tens of thousands of people running around the game at level GGGGGGGG (Yes level 8 G’s that’s not even a number) The end boss would die if one of these characters even stepped into the room, let alone pulled a weapon. But the goal wasn’t to be better than the game, the goal was to be better than other characters.

    If I could hack reality. I would make myself emperor of the Multiversre. With Legions of legions in every reality ready to obey my every command. OOO, and I would have mind control powers and time travel and a magic sword 300,000 Km long!!! Doing this would make you happy. Heck if you could hack life, simply code in “Happy” and your done.

    • Hell yeah I played D1, ‘I sense a soul in search of answers’ haha I remember playing my friend who had hacks, he was invis, and he started attacking, I ran into a room and as soon as the door opened filled it with fire walls and killed him, prob my fav d1 memory.

      But I would say mmos only reward you slightly faster than real life, assuming you arent enslaved to debt. High level, you grind for hours and get a measly +1 to your sword?

      • Well the people that get paid well, the people that like their jobs, the people actually getting the +1 swords in real life are not the ones bitching about the grind. It’s the people that have to work 45 hours and hand over the +1 sword just to survive for a week that bitch about the grind.

  3. I have to agree with Gender up there about “the grind”. The people that call it that are not generally the ones working their asses off for DISPOSABLE income… they’re the ones that are constantly worrying about being fired and as a result not being able to pay the rent or eat. I am in a similar situation (minus the grind, as if that makes it better).

    If I could hack life, I’d turn a relatively nondescript cedar box I have into a magic money chest (as I find that most of my problems are monetary in nature). Any time I’d open the chest, there would be the exact amount of money I’m thinking of in there, whether it be enough to buy a pizza or 4,000 acres of mountain land.

    Of course, like everything else I like that’s magical, it would have to be medieval, so the money would be in the form of gold coins, which I’d have to sell (vice save) at first. A small price to pay, of course, to have such a thing.

  4. I’m pretty 50/50 about this. I feel like the underlying message of rewards earned are better than rewards gifted is very good, but there is a lot that would go into the decision around how I would feel about “hacking” life.

    My first thought would have to go towards the social context and ramifications. If we are strictly just talking about winning the lottery, for example, there aren’t really huge social ramifications. It is something that is accepted in our society. People gamble away their money hoping for that big win. I guess hacking the system to get that money would be illegal and generally bad, so I wouldn’t do that. But if there was a winning ticket just lying on the floor and I had no way to track the buyer, I can’t say I wouldn’t collect the winnings. That money to me just represents a freedom to pursue more meaningful paths with my life because I do not have to worry about the survival aspects of life. So if I can bypass those lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy by means that are not socially categorized as corrupt or illegal, than I imagine I would.

    But what if you are in the GATTACA world, and you are making the decision to basically hack genomes in a world that nearly everyone does it and those that don’t are often left by the wayside. The social context here sets that expectation that we make our children “perfect” and not doing so leads to a completely different life path. These are very different social contexts and this would definitely play into my mindset when making those decisions. That in mind, GATTACA ultimately has a very similar message about the potential of earning your rewards.

    So I don’t know. I don’t fully disagree but can’t fully agree here. But what I can say, is anyone that does fully disagree isn’t the kind of person I would want “hacking” life. Not having a respect for rewards earned over rewards gifted is often a recipe for self-entitlement which means these “hacks” would likely be spoiled not in a pursuit of self/humanity betterment, but in wasted self indulgence.


  5. “A big thing I have been stuck on, is why does work generally suck where we ‘grind’ our lives away, but in an RPG we suffer the grind for some reward at the end”

    I think this is easily explained: Our caveman brains respond to short term rewards for our work: Spend an hour cooking a meal, spend an hour sharpening your spear, spend a few hours weaving your clothes, spend a day or two on a mammoth hunting expedition etc…….
    RPGs and MMOs have a reward system that fits into this time frame – spend an hour doing a quest and get a level up and a shiny new sword, spend a few hours doing a raid and get very shiny piece of armour. How much progress would you make in the average RPG if you put in one full time week (40+ hours) worth of play?
    The average job, well, most pay-checks are a month apart. That project you’re working on will take 6 months or so to complete, so you have no motivation to get started, because the part of our brain that rewards us for productivity doesn’t work that far ahead.
    If you released an MMORPG that takes 6 months to level up to level 2, playing 40+ hours a week……… No one would play that game, they would get bored after a few hours with no positive feedback giving them a dopamine rush. It’s very important for an RPG to continuously offer the player a reward to keep them playing.
    The average job does no such thing, and indeed a lot of jobs use negative feedback rather than positive feedback to keep workers working: “finish the project by next week or else you’re fired!!!”

    I think this is also probably the force behind the modern depression epidemic. One of the most commonly touted “symptoms” of depression is “you no longer enjoy the things you used to enjoy”. I believe that the reward part of the brain is left so out of practice by modern lifestyles, that it stops working all together, like the legs of someone who never walks, or the eyes of someone who spends their whole life in the dark. It’s not just our jobs, but so many aspects of our modern lives that are for something so far away in the future: Mortgages that you’ll be paying for 30 years, a pension that you won’t see for 40 years, learning for exams 3 years away etc….

  6. Related thought for the day:
    Think of the numerous ways we’ve already all been “hacked” into a better life already. By birth. All the tech we have at our fingertips is the result of centuries of effort from others, knowledge spoken and written, property rights protections, personal freedoms, et al. Then there’s the genetic advantages/benefit of being born in certain families versus others, et al.

    It’s good sometimes to place things into perspective and step outside of that box and truly think about it.

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