This World Is a Video Game — How To Win

Last night I gave my first talk of 2018:

I’m always impressed and humbled after talking to a group like this.

Despite the constant parade of bad news about bad men, the world is full of good men, who want nothing more than to better themselves, love a partner, raise a family, build a durable fortune, contribute to a moral society, and die in good health.

These men are the A-players in the game of life.

To be an A-player in life… you have to take chances. You have to take big swings, and huge gambles.

But most of us — — myself included — are too scared. We let our fear run our decisions, instead of making decisions from our core, on our values and integrity.

Let’s address this. Let’s adopt a risk-taking mindset in 2018. Let’s dare greatly in pursuit of our vision. Let’s refuse to bow to fear, of any sort:

  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of economic calamity
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of success
  • Fear of discomfort

Easier said than done. How does one become a huge risk taker, with massive steel cajones?

Time for some practical philosophy.

Last week I talked a lot about the darkness and despair facing the world today.

Today, I want to share with you a startling assumption I’ve found that has made the world a lot easier to deal with: that the world we inhabit is a video game, or a designed simulation.

I’ll let a very smart man explain:

“The odds that we are in base reality are one in billions.” — Elon Musk

As Elon says, we should arguably hope that this is true, since, if it is not true and we ARE in base reality, there is a real risk that our rapid technological progress will allow us to wipe ourselves out before we can ascend to the level of technological sophistication necessary to run ancestor simulations.

You can disagree with this idea. Poke holes in the argument (please!) or dispute the logic, if you can. But let’s assume, for a moment, that it is true; we are living in a sort of Matrix.

What are the implications?


We have to dismiss out of hand the nihilistic implication that “nothing matters” because “nothing is real”, for the simple reason that nihilism is not helpful.

Practically speaking, we play video games for fun, challenge, enjoyment, and education. If the Simulation Hypothesis is correct, let’s assume we are real, independent and advanced minds, playing the “Ancestor Simulation” for similar reasons.

In other words, we chose this game, for good reasons — even if that means we promptly forgot this truth to enhance the realism of the playing experience.

Now what would be the goal of this simulation?


One simple goal would be experimentation with historical counterfactuals — “What if JFK had been assassinated?” “What if Donald Trump had been elected president?” “What if the Britain had chosen to exit the EU?” and play out scenario timelines that might lead to historical insights.

Another would be to reach an arbitrary end state — with a Red Team for Oblivion and a Blue Team for Utopia.

The timeline we seem to be on now, shambling toward a high tech Dystopia, shows up a lot in our movies and stories, probably because dystopias are inherently high-drama, full of chaos, tension, and conflict.

It’s less interesting to set a movie or a game in a perfected Utopia — unless that Utopia actually masks some horrible dystopic underclass that all the shiny people are secretly eating.

Even in Star Trek, arguably the best pop culture portrayal of an actual Utopia, there are external enemies that threaten the peace of the Galactic Federation.

So we can probably be assured that as long as the simulation runs, there will be threats to our peace, an enemy to fight against, conflict, drama, and strife.

This world is not designed to work; it is probably not even allowed to be perfected, until whatever “win” or “lose” condition is fulfilled, or unless perfection IS the win condition.

So where does that leave us, as individual players?


I think we have two fundamental choices:

  1. Exit the game early
  2. Play to win

Exiting Early is not suicide (the movie Inception is a potent allegorical refutation of the efficacy of suicide in ending simulated suffering.). Rather, it’s Enlightenment.

The “enlightened” masters of history — Jesus Christ, Buddha & others — could arguably be players who dove deep into their own (real) minds, discovered the “cheat codes” or “source code” of the simulation, and awakened to the True Ultimate Nature of Reality, which both testify was essentially illusory. Note that this reportedly took significant personal effort.

Most of us probably won’t choose this route. That leaves Play to Win, which leaves us with the question of how to best play to generate great results, rack up high scores, and ultimately enjoy the ride to either Utopia or Oblivion — increasing our own personal power to affect the outcomes along the way.

Below is my best collection of the “player strategies” I have personally found most effective thus far.

Importantly, the below seem to be invariably linked in cause and effect relationships, like a chemical reaction or mathematical equation:

  1. Telling the truth leads to increased personal power
  2. Helping others increases the help you receive from others
  3. Giving brings wealth — “You only get to have what you give away” (paradox)
  4. Kind words bring resources and alliances to you
  5. Patience — giving up feelings of anger — builds bridges and erases a great deal of suffering
  6. Cultivation of concentration unlocks mental power and quickness
  7. Repeated visualization of desired outcomes seems to have a direct and significant impact on their realization, at all scales and time durations
  8. Massive Personal Effort brings personal power, a kind of eminence and respect from your peers — but most people consistently underestimate effort required to achieve a given goal
  9. Surrounding yourself with good people — and actively courting good people to be around — is the source of happiness and fulfilment during the game, as well as significantly increased income, wealth, and personal power
  10. Being Curious and Continuously Asking Questions seems to increase personal power via increased Knowledge, which does, indeed, seem to equal Power

That’s my list. What items would you add to it? Maybe we can crowd-source the best “player strategies” and share with the group.

And that brings us full circle back to today’s topic…


Here is the strategy that should increase your risk-taking in 2018:

Whenever you are faced with a scary decision, a risk, or a gamble, whether it be approaching a beautiful woman, asking for a raise, or tackling a big scary project, ask yourself this question:

==> “What choice would I make if this is all a video game, and I want to play to maximize fun, reward, and positive results for myself and others?”

Then, do whatever that is.

Will this be you in 2018?

I’m working on using this question to guide my actions in 2018, as well. Let’s share examples of the risks we take, and the rewards that come, with each other so we can all learn and grow more….and rack up more points this year ;)

Next week, we’re going to talk about another Life Strategy that is not discussed much in self-improvement circles: miracles.


Originally published at FG.