Player’s Handbook

The Hero’s Journey

I said before that I noticed that our need to increase our level of consciousness in vertical development was effectively learning to level up in life. And that organizations in The Future of Work more and more seemed like guilds.

What I realized was the Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey was effectively a foundational primer that unlocked vertical development and translated it to a language that most MMORPG gamers were familiar with. In effect, the Hero’s Journey describes all of the elements typically found within an MMORPG and helps us to understand what they mean applied to our lives, thus helping us to “level up” and transforming ourselves. And vertical development then extends this by describing how our inner terrain changes and differs, with greater complexity, as we level up. what each stage of development is like, similar to zones.

In 1988, PBS released one of the most popular documentary series in the history of American television entitled Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. Comprised of six one-hour conversations between the journalist Bill Moyers and the mythologist Joseph Campbell, it explored the Hero’s Journey as a “classic hero cycle,” showing how its patterns could be found within literature and even films like Star Wars.

What many people today may not be aware of though is that Joseph Campbell also went on to explain how the Hero’s Journey wasn’t just for understanding classical heroes of ancient times or even just for understanding how to write a good story. It’s meant to be a powerful tool to aid us in understanding how our own lives are metaphorically a “hero’s journey” of maturation, thus giving us the potential opportunity to psychologically grow and develop into a more evolved human beings over the course of our lives.

CAMPBELL: This is a fundamental psychological transformation that everyone has to undergo. We are in childhood in a condition of dependency under someone’s protection and supervision for some fourteen to twenty-one years—and if you’re going on for your Ph. D., this may continue to perhaps thirty-five. You are in no way a self-responsible, free agent, but an obedient dependent, expecting and receiving punishments and rewards. To evolve out of this position of psychological immaturity to courage of self-responsibility and assurance requires a death and resurrection. That’s the basic motif of the universal hero’s journey—leaving one condition and finding the source of life to bring you forth into a richer or mature condition.

MOYERS: So even if we happen not to be heroes in the grand sense of redeeming society, we still have to take that journey inside ourselves, spiritually and psychologically.

CAMPBELL: That’s right.

What the above quote tells us is that the hero’s journey is about change, growth, and transformation. It also, at least initially in our lives, is a transformation and transition from being dependent upon to society to becoming independent. Most important of all, it tells us that this journey is an inner one in which it not only transforms the way we look at the work but the way we look at our sense of self-identity.

And even more so, it is understanding that this Hero’s Journey repeats as many times as needed.

What this all means within the context of the Hero’s Journey is that when we are faced with an “epic” life challenge that seems insurmountable to us, we have to psychologically have to undergo a

We go step into a limbo world, explore the depths of ourselves, slay our monstrous fears, uncover treasures about ourselves, and return to the world.

With this understanding and context, most people don’t so much start their Hero’s Journey, so much as recognize how they are already upon in within their own lives already.

It helps an individual to meaningfully understand the psychological hero’s journey

It’s meant to lend “meaning to our everyday existence, putting our individual struggles in a noble context.


a deeper sense of what it means to be a human being.

Helps our lives feel like an adventure rather than a grind.