R P G A M E R . C O M   -   E D I T O R I A L S

RPGamers: The Quest for Paradise

Anthony Caudill

On the evening of this document's authorship, I am sitting before my computer. I am rocking back and forth as I type, giddy with anticipation, bursting with purpose. Seemingly random movie clips of my own dynamic construction compete for space my head, taking each their place one after the other. The room around me is in less than perfect condition, but it'll do: I'm not at risk of being bitten by insects or rats, and I've got a faint idea of where things are when I need them. These factors of the real world are secondary: what is important is what lies ahead.

I am INTJ - (I)ntroverted, I(N)tuitive, (T)hinking, (J)udging. I wall myself off from others, says my first cousin. I am up in the clouds, says my stepmother. I am too focused on thinking in terms of cause and effect, says my grandmother. I am too quick to judge, says my cousin's girlfriend.

I am INTJ, and my personality is shaped by my failures. To be introverted is to rely on one's own mental energy to acquire information, to approach people one-on-one, rather than as a group. To be intuitive is to have vision; imagination; the ability to identify patterns in the world, and to emulate them in the mind. To be thinking is to view the world objectively, to organize concrete, functional plans well in advance of the opportunity of their implemenation. To be Judging is to seek closure in thought and process.

My cousin is the opposite of myself. He is ESFP. He is extroverted: he approaches people as a unit, and prefers larger units to smaller ones. He is sensing: he is practical and highly aware of the world around him; reality is an endless chain of savors and excitements. He is feeling: whatever plans he makes, however he makes them, they will all turn to dust if the mood of the room is sour. He'll do what it takes to make people feel more comfortable, more cheerful. He is perceiving: all of his thought is in sequence, running through his head clear to him as the driven snow.

My cousin loves playing RPGs, so long as he's around me. When he's with his friends from outside our family, it's impossible to say what he enjoys. He is perfectly in tune with the emotions of the people aound him. Genuinely empathic, the emotions of the world swirl about him as a great current. It takes strength to fight the current, and from his perspective he is stronger in mind than those around him. His charisma is indeed overpowering: if only he would set his mind to it, he could one day become a beloved U.S. president... or an elusive Arab dictator.

I gain great satisfaction from hanging out with my cousin. My cousin brings out my latent side; he strengthens my weaknesses. I can talk to an entire room in his presence; think almost anything; gain unusually effective insight into topics of our mutual interest; or even be a bit more tolerant of the ditziest girl's cluelessness. In most every way, my cousin makes life a bit happier, a bit more hopeful, a bit more balanced. But our relations are somewhat contrary: he will do what those around him want of him, and he will be hard pressed to refuse. I can misinterpret his actions thus as unduly selfish, if I do then something must be said for them. We get along well, but not for a long while at a time.

His girlfriend is ENTJ. Almost identical in thought to myself, but she was engaged by people in the formative early years of her personality, she was not isolated as I was. Rather than avoid working with people when she disagrees with them--as I do--she manipulates them, although not always consciously. Even as my fixation with the inner pattern limits of objects casts my motivations to the manipulation of the powers that animate people, so she subconsciously cordons off her friends into a matrix of interest groups and associations. She is the classic prom queen, reminescient of Hillary Rodham Clinton, of Condoleeza Rice in her movement, her speech, her ever active, peering gaze. Her aura is one of control, of popular mobilization towards whatever goal she deems worthy of pursuing. She has the makings of a master executive; or a general, as those who cross her discover. All of this, and she is only eighteen.

My cousin's girlfriend and I do not get along well. In the past, we have come to blows over misperceptions of intent between us. To see her manipulate people immediately--as opposed to backing off from them in favor of amassing enough data to eventually convince them of my position--is to my mind uniquely repulsive, even evil. We see this action in many videogame villains: Megaman X's Sigma, Final Fantasy VII's President Shinra, Ogre Battle's Queen Endora, Final Fantasy II's Emperor, to name a few. From the perspective of an INTJ each of these characters has a distinctly malevolent and dangerous tone, if not from their actions alone but from the attitude that gives rise to those actions. It is the opinion of INTJ that the innate desire of ENTJ for wealth and power is uniquely troubling to the human race, because the desire for the wealth of one compromises the INTJ's ability to preserve the good will of others--and by extension his own health.

INTJ can go to great lengths to increase the good will of others --suffice to say, it is the entire mainstay of his being. INTJ's intution tells him decisively that somewhere in the universe there is a great order, a great conscious intent like unto his own. INTJ desires innately to be on the right side of this power his perceptive function only hints at. INTJ is always working to facilitate greater magnitudes of good will in this world. INTJ inspiration may take many forms: books, movies, news broadcasts, natural phenomena, even videogames.

As INTJ, I only act in ways that I can relate directly to the future salvation of the world. Anything of religious context is worth investigating in my judgement, any method of mass communication--of mass world facility--demands consideration and study. My head is ever racing with goals and the processes through which I can meet them. Anything I cannot orient towards the fulfillment of these ambitions, I do not interact with.

If I were only a little less judging and a little more perceiving, I would exist almost entirely in a world not parallel to my own. My thought would be built upon fundamental assumptions upon which everything I did think would be a matrix of. I would be a little less perfect in my intent, more inclined to draw tiny, vague boundaries between concepts rather than clear ones. IQ tests would suggest me to be a genius. And, I would have little apprehension at the thought of sitting through marathon sections of Dragon Quest, or even Tecmo Secret of the Stars.

To be an INTP is to be an individual to whom love for others is the greatest luxury. The INTP's world is built on reason and logic alone, what is "logical" is pursued, what is "illogical" is avoided, and no effort is made to transform the illogical into the logical, because that's illogical. If an INTP perceives that a relationship is without enough fulfilled conditions to last, the INTP will terminate the relationship without regret. This ruthlessness (as viewed by an INTJ) causes the INTP to be labeled by some feeling types as a "nerd", in the same way that the INTJ's choice to avoid people they disagree with sometimes earns them the popular title "dork".

At times, I may come upon a woman in town--perhaps at Walmart where I ponder heavily the prospective impact of my purchases, or in the midst of a casual visit to the local college library in search of world revolutionizing information--whose beauty strikes me in an uncommon manner. My pulse quickens when I see her, and my body temperature soars several degrees in under a minute. If I approach the woman and inquire of her interests, her response is always the same: she enjoys art. Next I ask about videogames, and again her response is the same: she loves Final Fantasy. Especially VIII and X.

This woman could be any one of the world's young female artists, the ISFP. ISFPs, by virtue of their introversion, channel all of the charisma and energy of ESFP into one person, overwhelming them with their charm and attentiveness. Unless, of course, the person of their attention is an ESFP. INTJ loves attention, and the characteristic elf-like features of ISFP--accented as they are by the ISFP's innate desire of the beautful, their passion for the emotionally complex --leaves INTJ totally awestruck.

The feeling is mutual. ISFP and INTJ are partners in activity--they stimulate one another quickly, continuously. Although almost exact opposites of one another, the introversion function is sufficient to direct each the other's energy onto the partner, allowing them to awaken one another's recessive psychological functions at much greater intensity than is possible in a contrary relationship. Activity partners are authentic soul mates: they intoxicate one another with their mutual being, and are placated merely by interacting with one another in the most trivial fashions. ISFP and INTJ are not, however, compatible in mind. Notice that the artist likes FFVIII, and X. INTJ prefers the more cosmic themes of FFVII. (a game most artists tend to slam because of its open plot and linear gameplay) A heated arguement can brew very quickly, and neither side is prepared to give in. INTJ instinctively tries to manipulate ISFP with his bottomless storehouse of facts and intuitions, and the perceptive ISFP resists. ISFP becomes aware of rising negative feelings in the area spurred by the arguement and begins to feel uncomfortable. ISFP runs off, frustrating the awakened recessive functions of INTJ. INTJ quickly becomes frustrated and deeply, deeply depressed.

Like unto ISFP and INTJ, ESFP and ENTJ are partners of activity: just as I as an INTJ and an artist as an ISFP can quickly throw ourselves into a heated arguement, my cousin and his girlfriend often complain to one another that they have little in common aside from their mutual fixation.

Failed activity relationships often encourage the judging side of the pair to consider desperate acts, sometimes even stalking or kidnapping, or even suicide attempts or self mutilation, to regain the perceiving side's attention. Judges may have extreme difficulty coming to terms with the perceiver's rejection of them, and the perceiver may become deeply concerned by the depth of the judge's obsession with them. Before its all over, the law usually has to step in, to force the judge to give up. Of course, neither the judge nor the perceiver ever fully recover.

If only INTJ were a bit more of a people person and bit less judging, he would get along with the artist just fine. ENTP, the inventor, is the "duality" partner of ISFP. Although duality partners find it difficult to interact with one another, they find solace in their mutual fulfillment of their innate needs. ENTP is the incarnation of the whimsical and the spontaneous. ENTP enjoys being around others, so long as their logic doesn't sum to the effect that others would be better off without them. ENTP is the table-top roleplayer; and the neighborhood park roleplayer; and the downtown city hall roleplayer. ENTP is always trying to find solutions to everything. And they will find them: frustrated by a Gordian knot? Cut it in a half with a finely sharp blade.

When ENTP and INFJ find one another, the roleplay really hits the fan. ENTP goes totally beserk, losing whatever self-reservation they may have had in the absence of the INFJ. This is the type more likely than anyone else to go around town dressed in full roleplay costume, especially when INFJ is in their company.

INFJ is the world's great author, and its perennial savior. INFJs can control their empathy by tracing the emotional patterns of others and determining for themselves what courses of action are best on behalf of others' emotional stability. They can lead masses of people towards great causes, and love doing it. Their great causes can be as simple but effective as rallying their compatriots to the defense of a videogame's plot, or the defense of its integrity. They can start with but a handful of enthusiasm for a hobby and a sense of urgency to share their enthusiasm with the rest of the world, and build from it a world wide movement of like-minded hobbiests in a matter of years. In adulthood, INFJs are the premier activists, the Nobel Peace Prize winners, and sometimes the Pulitzer prize winners also.

INFJs, although more stable in thought than ISFPs and ESFPs, are nonetheless constrained by their empathy to provide emotional comfort to those around them. When faced with adversity, they may feel compelled to choose a single person as the focus of all of their emotional energy, whether or not they have broken off their relations with another individual to whom they were offering the same. Sometimes these loyalty shifts that are not loyalty shifts cause them a lot of guilt and frustration. This guilt can be very dangerous to the INFJ who feels isolated from others: of all the sixteen personality types, INFJs have the highest rates of suicide. INFJ facial features often provide the at times mistaken impression that they are deeply saddened. When another judge tries to act on this assumption, an escalating situation of misunderstanding may be soon to follow.

Although my classifications of individuals may seem hasty or even presumptuous, they are not without merit. Function typing, as empirical personality classification is called, was developed by a psychologist of the early 20th century, Carl Jung. Carl Jung was in all respects a genuis: his IQ scores were in excess of the upper limit; he was uniquely detatched from reality in a way that most people felt was impossible to understand; and he ultimately managed to diagram in mathematics the foundations of the human mind. A classic INTP.

Jung's design centered around the limits of information management options available to the brain. Says Jung, one option's dominance precludes the effectiveness of another. In this sense, the ability of an individual to work in group-style extroversion frustrates their ability to work with individuals. A person's strength is also their weakness, relative to the situation.

So by extension, all conflicts in the world that are between people are products of the dissonance between perceptions by people of one another's actions, because the limits of an individual's personality prevent them from fully synthesizing the perspective of someone whose personality differs from their own. This understanding, and the empirical evidence demonstrated earlier in this text, allows each type to compensate for their failures and accentuate their strengths when working with individuals of different type, to effectively provide harmony and contentment to all.

This is important to us, because who among the willful readership of this document is not sympathetic to at least one of the types above? These are the RPGamer personality types.

All of the emotional pain we experience--save mourning after death-- spurs from these dissonant perceptions of one another. The perceiver is struck by the insensitivity of their activity partner, the judge. The sensing are bewildered and frightened by the abilities of the intuitive. The extroverted disdain the impersonal methods of the introverted. The feelers believe themselves forgotton by the thinkers. How many works of fan fiction here are not an attempt to understand, to comprehend, to cope with the actions of others towards the author? How many works of game-inspired artistry are not reflections of the artist's deep cares and worries? How many video game reviews--or even faqs--are not calls to action to share in the experiences of their authors? To imagine oneself as cut off from the world, this is the heart and soul of RPGaming.

But the only walls around us are the ones we build ourselves. With function type analysis of ourselves and each other, we can compensate for the very real differences between our perceptions of reality and of each other. It'll take effort--sensate people are not great visionaries, and intuitive people are not very at home on planet Earth--but by conscientiously working together, we can make a better world for ourselves and for everyone.

A world without isolation, without misunderstanding; without significant frustration, without fear; without malice, without hopelessness. A world like unto the fruits of a final battle in any RPG: peaceful and free of darkness.

With this empirical understanding of one another, RPGamers the world over may break open the seal of paradise's tower. Along the way we will need to work with the rest of the population--and this will be difficult--but we alone can lead humanity to the tower's summit. We ARE the intelligencia. We ARE the great untapped well of human potential. We ARE the saviors; the architects; the conquerers; the inventors; the master-minds; the realizers of the timeless human dream: utopia.

RPGamers are the new generation of world catalysts. Today we play games; or we make games; or we draw art from games; or we write about games; or we pretend to live in games. What would we, in the world before videogames advented, have busied ourselves with? Says Carl Jung, we would be the Jimmy Carters; the Albert Einsteins; the FDRs; the Alexanders; the Augustus Caesars; the Vincent Van Goghs of our times. And in ten, twenty years we surely will be. Says science, the same urges to act; to design; to soften; to create; to mold; to paint what is not there already run through us as they did our forebearers.

Locked inside the world of role-playing, then, we see the aspirations of INFJ; of INTP; of ESFP; of ENTP; of INTJ; of ISFP. We are beholden to the world we would make if we could, and a way to escape the pressures and frustrations of the world as it is. In this light we are witness to something past generations were without: a window into paradise grounded partially in reality. We are left with an opportunity and freedom to bring the far off fantasy realm of the mind into final, brilliant, beautiful being.

What will this adventure into reality's farthest reaches reward us with? To find out, we must--we should--join hands with one another in confidence, empathy, reason, and anticipation. Each of us has an artifact to place on the statue of our mutual heroism. And only after each of us has placed each our respective talent into the world's engine may we take hold of the long-elusive key; loosen the doors of our aspirations and desires; and begin the last trek to the world of health, love, knowledge, comradery, and specialty.

Does paradise extend to everyone equally? What forms can paradise take? Will we find what we expect at the tower's summit? Or is there something at work beyond what we imagine, beyond our empathy, beyond our comprehension, beyond our understanding, beyond our adaptive capability? Is someone waiting at the top with a surprise for us?

Unless RPGamers the world over start climbing, they will never know.

References - November 14 2003 - November 14 2003

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