Two decades ago, my life was turned upside down by a great cataclysm. At the time, I was a Senior Web Developer for a local Vancouver web firm, helping to build online community hubs for some of the most notable video game publishers on the planet, such as Sierra, Activision, and Konami. It was a dream job for me, the peak of my conventional life, but it all came crashing down when the dot-com bubble burst in 2001, leaving me standing on the street corner with my belongings in a box at my feet.
Frustrated by the way that companies were treating people and how work felt like it was no longer working for people, I decided to start looking for an alternative model to the conventional idea of work. Over the next two decades, I researched The Future of Work, social innovation, creativity, and vertical development, as well as discovered a growing body of people who were not only looking for something more than the conventional idea of work but were actually working towards it and beginning to live it as well.
During this time, I began to notice a metaphorical language being used to describe the journey to this new world of work and it sounded a lot like the language from the gaming world I had come from. At first it was just a few keywords that I thought were a coincidence but over time it expanded into a full language that was describing something deeper, a psychological narrative that was required to reach this new world of work.
What finally catalyzed the awareness and consciousness of what I was reading and perceiving below the surface of so many articles and books was rereading Joseph Campbell’s work on the Hero’s Journey. While many people just saw it as something formulaic to write a great story or movie with, I began to realize it was actually metaphorically describing the psychological journey and narrative of life that we all have to undertake, especially if we want to grow and develop towards full maturity and a deeper sense of what it means to be a human being. To put it another way, it was describing deeper truths about life but using a fictional mythological narrative to do so.
Dumbstruck at what I was uncovering, a question began forming in the back of my head that began a quest for me. What would happen if I took this metaphorical language, expanded it using the language of roleplaying games, and packaged it in a such a way that the complexity of it seemed familiar, especially to gamers as my target audience?
This Player’s Handbook is the answer to that question. It explores what happens when we look at roleplaying games like Dungeon’s & Dragons or World of Warcraft with new eyes and perceive them as startlingly accurate metaphors for life itself. To do so, each of the chapters within this handbook will introduce you to the familiar terminology and mechanics of roleplaying games but will then explain the deeper meaning of these words within the larger context of life and how they will help us to take our own hero’s journey to a whole new world of work through play.