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Behind every concept lies a web of stories.
They may be very simple. Without her, my life is less—love. This is mommy; this is daddy. Mommy does mommy things, daddy does daddy things—gender. I wish we had never met—hatred. They are simple, but they are many, and without these narratives, concepts and ideas fail to exist. That’s because even self-evident concepts are not pre-social. They do not exist in the ether, waiting for us to analyze away our worldly knowledge so that we may come to attain perfect knowledge of them. They are created things, which exist in their telling. And for ideas to survive as more than flickering thoughts, they need a narrative foundation to latch onto.
This is how the world came to be, in a moment of desire. This is why good should triumph over evil. This is why we should believe in either.
These things are the foundation of our world.
That’s why I’m interested in stories. They hook into us in a very deep level—stories are not how we learn, they are how we know.
Games are what happen when you collect enough stories that they start to define rules. Not well, necessarily, but well enough. The tales of logic and reason give us analytic philosophy; the tales of love and hate and gender tell us how to live. It may seem strange or amoral to refer to these pursuits as games, but (rest assured), it isn’t. They are activities which exist within their own space, and have their own rules—play doesn’t need to imply inauthenticity, and indeed, might well imply the opposite.
When we explicitly play a game—be it BDSM roleplay, or the other kind—we are building barriers. But those barriers give us power. They let us deal with foreign concepts, play with stories that we would not otherwise entertain. We can reject foundational narratives with comfort, knowing that we are only doing so in the course of play. And because they are communal, we let other people into a part of our mental space normally off-limits, and we invite ourselves into theirs. In the course of play, we construct new stories. They aren’t immediately foundational, but they may well become so.
And that’s why I’m interested in play.