PtP – Power & Politics

So now you know, more or less, what the game is designed to do, and the major pieces that make it work.

I want to spend this post talking a little about the philosophy behind it all.

There’s a reason why the game is focused on sustainable practices, and it’s not because I’m a die-hard, granola eating, tree hugging hippie. Yes, I do think we need to take better care of our planet and live as sustainably as we can, but no, I don’t think the world is on the brink of destruction, or that we’re facing an imminent mass die-off, or that oil supplies will dry up tomorrow, and I don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories (though I do “collect” them – what I mean by that is, I like reading about them to see all the strange theories, but I don’t buy into them).

The great thing is though, Play the Planet has appeal to a broad cross-section of the population. Preppers and Doomers will like it because it teaches the stuff they also feel is important. Hippies will like it because of its focus on sustainability. Hipsters will find a lot to like because of the focus on “upcycling,” people who work in, or are associated with non profit groups will appreciate the innovative focus on social good, and the productivity tools, while gamers will find a lot to like by virtue of its overall structure, and so on.

There’s a growing army of people in the US and around the world who are either un, or under-employed. Once this system is up and running, it will provide a creative outlet that will allow those people to do good works, be rewarded for it, and in doing so, provide needed resources for their families, all without the need of a formal job, and all without having to ask anyone’s permission, go through an interview process, etc.

Not long ago, I was having a conversation with someone online. To be honest, I don’t even recall what the original topic was, but the major point my opposite number was trying to make was that the only type of power there is, is political power, and that all power must necessarily corrupt those who wield it. He also went on to say that altruism was the antithesis of power. That the two were mutually exclusive, and that exercising power could never lead to a good end.

I reject almost all of that.

Power comes in many forms, one of which is, of course, political, but when a doctor saves a life, politics simply isn’t part of the equation, and yet, there’s undeniable power in the act. Any time one human being extends a hand to help another, there’s power in the act of doing so. Far from being mutually exclusive, altruism itself is a form of power.

History is, of course, replete with examples of the corrupting influence of power, and as such, its use must be governed. Held in check, in order to ensure that it is used for good ends and not for personal gain or glorification. The profile rating system built into structure of the game the game’s major control mechanism. The network members police themselves, and the only things that are rewarded in-game are learning new skills and acts of service to others. That’s how you grow your power in the game, and it ensures that said power is used primarily for those purposes (obviously, when you earn Gc, you can spend them on whatever the hell you want, which is also an exercise of power, and the means by which people can exercise power for their own ends). The problem then…is me.

While the network is still in its formative stages, it needs to have one definitive leader to give it shape and form. Not that there won’t be other voices contributing to its design, but the final decisions need to flow through a single point. That is my role, as The Architect. In its infancy, the network will be a “Veltatorship.” It has to be. Sure, it’ll be a benevolent “dictatorship,” but it will be so nonetheless.

Eventually though, the day’s going to come when the network is big enough to stand on its own. When the community is large and robust enough to take charge of its own direction.

There’s a mechanism built into the game to do that.

As players gain experience and level up, they’ll eventually be eligible to attain leadership positions, allowing the community to select a governance board, but here’s the problem.

When that day arrives, there will be one voice that will always carry more weight. One voice that will “count for more” than the rest.

That voice will be mine, so again…the problem is me.

That’s why – when the day comes, I must step down.

I must give Play the Planet to the community that will spring up around it, and lock my own account.

To do anything less than that would be to risk corrupting the very thing I’m focused on making.

Will I? Can I? Can I just walk away from the project I’ve poured literally years of my life into?


I can because I must. Because even though I would never intend to do anything but good with the project, there’s that problem of my voice being the loudest, and sooner or later, that would have consequences. There’s only one way around that issue.

Of course, I won’t be “gone” from the game, I’ll simply start a new account, at first level, and play the planet anonymously, but then as a brand new player, I’ll have to work my way back up through the ranks, and will be miles from having any input whatsoever on the governance board.

There’s one other dimension of power I want to talk about though.

As the network grows and begins having a notable impact on the communities (Holons) it operates in, it will inevitably gain the attention of the broader community and local governments.

We’re likely to find allies among local governments, and some of our more prominent members are likely to even gain positions of power and prominence in the real world communities they’re improving.

Of course, there will also be detractors.

People hate what they don’t understand, and Play the Planet will almost certainly be seen as a threat to the established order. Entrenched interests…they’re not gonna like that too much.

Right now, that’s all theoretical, but the day’s coming when it won’t be, and the fledgling network will need to be ready for that. Its design will have to be robust enough to withstand that. If I do my job right, then the people who come after me will have a head start, and several good tools to deal with those issues as they arise.

We’re going to find out the answer to the following question:

What happens when you design a game that, when played, can “change stuff” in the real world, then use that game to start systematically fixing the biggest problems of society that have been plaguing mankind since the rise of the first cities, and doing so using a system that creates a growing army of servant-leaders?

Let’s find out together.


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