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Play the Planet

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posted on Dec, 19 2015 @ 07:46 PM
Hello All!

I'm fairly new here, but in my introduction thread, one of the people who welcomed me, Layaly, suggested that I create a thread dedicated to this project. I thought it was a good suggestion, I am.

First, a bit about me. My name is Velociryx...Vel for short, because "Velociryx" is a pain in the arse to spell. My real name is Chris(topher) Hartpence. I'm 47 years old, and a freelance writer and game designer, currently living in rural Virginia, just off the Parkway (or, as I like to describe it, "Heaven").

I moved here from Myrtle Beach on purpose, because this is the area I want to purchase land to build prototypes on. The prototypes are for a computer "game" called Play the Planet.

Play the Planet was born some two years and change ago, when a friend of mine asked me a question that honestly changed the arc of my life. The question he asked me was this:

"Chris, do you think it's possible to make a (computer) game that, when played, the simple act of PLAYING the game can cause a variable in the real, physical world to change?"

My first reaction is probably much like yours is, reading those words for the first time. I asked him for some of whatever he was drinking or smoking, but as it turns out, the answer to Daniel's question is...yes.

Yes it is possible, and since the day I finally arrived at the answer, I've made it my life's work to build the underlying architecture necessary for the game to function.

I will not live to see Play the Planet come to full flower. It is a massive project that will take more years than I have left in me to see it to maturity, but it does not matter. My role in the story is that of "The Architect." The designer. The purpose of this thread is ultimately to have a place to kick ideas around and collaborate...assuming of course that there's any real interest in it here (I'm hopeful that there will be!). Sort of a virtual, ongoing creative jam session. I like that.

Before we can begin that process though, I need to make a few posts that outline exactly what the game "is," how it works, and how the major structural components hang together. Hopefully, I'll be able to explain it all in a way that makes sense and doesn't unduly muddy the waters, and once that's done, I would love to collaborate with anyone who's interested.

See...I'm old enough to know that I don't have all the answers. That there are certain pieces of the puzzle that can ONLY be solved by having a whole tapestry of creative voices weaving together the story that will one day serve as the backdrop for what I think will be an utterly amazing game.

This then, is an open invitation to add your voice to that tapestry.

(I'll begin posting a more detailed explanation of the game proper in just a moment)

posted on Dec, 19 2015 @ 07:49 PM
PtP Explanation, Part One

“Is it possible to make a (computer) game, such that the simple act of playing it can ‘change stuff’ in the real, physical world?”

That was the question Daniel asked me. That was the question I almost drove myself mad trying to answer, and ultimately, that was the question I answered in the affirmative.

I know what you’re thinking, and believe me, I’ve been down the road you’re staring at right now. Of course it’s not possible, right? Because the digital world is digital, and the physical world is physical, and the two just don’t intersect, so there’s no way….

Except that isn’t exactly true, is it?

Think about MMORPG’s…say World of Warcraft, since most everybody is familiar with that. It definitely has a point of intersection between the two worlds. It’s you. You the player. You exist as an avatar in the game, and of course, you exist in the physical world, sitting there at your computer PLAYING the game, and once you understand that the player IS the point of intersection…the bridge between the two worlds, everything else gets easier.

At the root then, Play the Planet is a role playing game that’s set in both the real and digital worlds. The two worlds interact with each other, and can modify each other, through the player.

As with every role playing game, PtP revolves around quests. In World Of Warcraft, you may be tasked with invading the Temple of Pure Evil Badassery to rescue Princess Kumonawannalaya or something, but of course, games have tempo and pacing. There’s a story, so it’s not like you can just walk up to the temple’s front door and knock. No! You’ve got sub-quests to complete first. You have to recruit allies. Then you may have to go on a quest to find the Dagger of Badass Killingry, which is the only artifact known that can hurt the boss villain who’s guarding the Princess. Then maybe you have to climb to the top of Mount Flatulence to receive a smelly blessing from the Grand High Farter, and on and on.

Eventually, at some point, you get to approach the Temple of Ultimate Badassery and fight your way to the Princess, where, if you’ve been careful in your planning, and maybe get a bit lucky here and there, you will emerge victorious and gain your rewards (gold, magic items, etc).

Same thing here, with PtP, except that we’ve made our “Quests” a bit more relevant and timely, is all.

In Play the Planet, the game, and the quests that drive it, are divided into seven functional areas. These areas are:


Each functional area has an assortment of quests associated with it. The quest structure is open ended. You can start where you wish. You don’t have to, for example, start with Archival and slowly work your way through to other areas. If you could give a # about archival, fine. Just ignore those quests and start somewhere else.

Let’s say you’re interested in food, so you start with the Agronomy area.

In that area, you’ll find a single quest to start the show. It’s called ‘Green Thumb.’ To complete the quest, you read the summary and instructions. You are to:

Build or buy a window planter box
Fill said box with dirt
Put seeds in the dirt. Doesn’t matter what. Up to you. Basil. Tomatoes. Peppers. Just something you can eat or cook with that you’ll enjoy
Water the seeds and nurture them to seedlings, then to full grown plants
Harvest your crop
Take selfies of your progress along the way
Upload the selfies to the quest admin and await confirmation

That’s it. It’s a simple quest that gives you hands on experience with planting seeds in the dirt and getting food back from it.

Completing that quest though, unlocks other, more advanced quests. One of the quests it unlocks is called “Home Grown.” The “Home Grown” quest builds on the things you learned and demonstrated in “Green Thumb,” and takes them to the next level. Here, you’ll either build or buy a green house, or, if you don’t have the space for that, you’ll build grow towers out of recycled materials. Blueprints and parts manifests are available, for free, for a wide variety of greenhouses (13 as of the time this piece was written, but more being added all the time).

Your objective: Grow some percentage of your own food. Note that you don’t have to grow all your own food, but you WILL gain at least a measure of food independence. I’ve invented my own high yield, micro-farming hybrid technique by studying the methods of others. It’s called by the rather unfortunate acronym HYNA (‘Hyena’), which stands for High Yield, Natural Agronomy.

Again, you’ll be photo documenting the greenhouse build, the raised bed build and/or placement, your garden plan, and selfies at every step.

There’s a story arc here. The early quests see you learning and gaining mastery over a skill, then ultimately, later quests see you applying this knowledge in the service of others. The “Helping Hands” quest, for example, is just like the “Home Grown” quest, except that you’re assisting another player complete THEIR “Home Grown” quest, and getting credit for doing so.

Any quest that involves helping another human being has rewards beyond achievement badges and experience points (which cause you to level up and gain powers on the site). You also earn the in-game currency, Ghost Net Credits.

Ghost Net Credits can be spent on real world goods and services – whatever other players are selling. Ebooks, craft items, services, etc. You can even pay your monthly membership fee in Gc if you wish.

What you’ve read so far has probably left you with as many questions as answers, but I’ll stop here on purpose because I don't want to rattle on too long.


posted on Dec, 19 2015 @ 07:49 PM
a reply to: Velociryx
I'm curious, have an effect on the world in what way exactly? And how would it be possible?

posted on Dec, 19 2015 @ 07:52 PM
Just posted the first part of the explanation above (we must have been posting at about the same time!) - more to follow in just a bit!

a reply to: Tiamat384

posted on Dec, 19 2015 @ 07:56 PM
PtP Explanation, Part Two - Michael Who?

In order to better and more completely understand how PtP bridges the divide between the digital world and the real, we need to plumb the depths of history though, and I need to tell you a little story about the man pictured above. He bears the utterly spectacular (if tongue-twisting) name of Michael Unterguggenberger. And here I thought I had it bad with the last name of Hartpence. Anyway, Michael Unterguggenberger’s story is pivotal to Play the Planet, and the architecture of our economic model, as you will soon see.

Our story begins during the Great Depression, in the nation of Austria, in the tiny town of Worgl. Unterguggenberger was the Mayor there in those days, and like pretty much every other town in the world, Worgl was going through some tough times. 30%+ unemployment. Goods sitting unbought on shelves. Infrastructure falling into disrepair. People starving in their homes. Not a pretty picture, but then, in those days, things were fairly #ty all over. Worgl was no better, or worse off than any of its neighbors, except that’s not quite true. Worgl had one thing…one remarkable resource that nobody else had. They had Michael Unterguggenberger.

A civic-minded man who took his job seriously, he worried over the fate of his little township, and resolved to do something about it. Goods, he reckoned, were sitting unbought on store shelves, because nobody had any money to buy them with, but that was a problem they could fix locally, was it not?

As it turned out, the answer to that question was a resounding yes!

Unterguggenberger called the town together for a meeting, and proposed the creation of a “Certified Compensation Bill,” which would be the town’s very own local currency. He asked local shopkeepers if they would accept this bills in exchange for the physical goods in their stores. There was some reluctance, but given that goods weren’t exactly flying off the shelves anyway, nobody figured there was much to lose, so reluctant or not, the town agreed to go along with the plan.

Had Unterguggenberger had a good PR guy, he’d probably have called his local currency “Worgl Bux!” or something a bit catchier, but alas, this was not meant to be. In any case, he got the town on board with his idea, and created a local currency, then put people to work fixing the town’s infrastructure, paying them at the end of each day WITH the new currency (and just because I can, I’m gonna refer to them as Worgl Bux! from here on out).

But the Worgl Bux! weren’t like other currency.

They were not a store of value.

In fact, they LOST value over time through a process called “demurrage,” which is essentially a negative interest rate.

At the end of each month, all Worgl Bux! in circulation had to be brought to the town hall, where a stamp was affixed to them, which degraded their value by 1%.

Noooooobody wanted to be the guy holding onto Worgl Bux! at the end of the month, and guess what happened?

Well, two things. Two really big, important things.

First, unemployment evaporated literally overnight. The town went from 30+% unemployment to full employment in the blink of an eye, and…given the peculiar nature of Worgl Bux!, people spent them as soon as they got them.

Goods started FLYING off the shelves of stores.

The economy started humming.

The little town of Worgl was an island of economic normality in a sea of economic #.

Months passed, and things remained good in Worgl. They remained so good, in fact, that the Mayors from the six towns around Worgl came to Unterguggenberger and wanted to know what he had done, and could they get in on whatever it was.

He told them.

Then he got invited to speak at a conference of European Mayors to spread his idea even farther. Had this man found a cure for the Great Depression? It certainly seemed so!

Despite the fact that he was doing a lot of good for the people of his town, and for the people in the other towns who adopted his methodology, there was one group that was NOT amused by these developments.

The Austrian Central Bank.

See…banks make profits when they lend money at interest. Their shenanigans with the money supply have caused no end of human suffering, but at every step, they (the bankers) make fat profits, either by lending money in boom times, or by confiscating assets during bad.

These Worgl Bux! resided outside the central bank’s ecosystem and reach, and they couldn’t have that, so the central bankers very politely told the Austrian government (with one hand wrapped around its throat) that they absolutely WOULD shut the upstart experiment down. And they did.

Unemployment immediately went back up to 30+%, and people went back to being good little lambs and starving in their homes, and that’s how the situation remained until we hit this little speed bump commonly referred to as “World War II,” and suddenly, there were lots more things to worry about than one tiny town in Austria and some cool stuff that happened there over a thirteen month period.

Michael Unterguggenberger’s achievement was largely forgotten, and relegated to a dusty shelf in a dimly lit corner of history.


posted on Dec, 19 2015 @ 07:57 PM
a reply to: Velociryx
Ok, I have to ask. And mind you, I'm not tech savvy, nor know much law. So excuse my ignorance.

1. That currency, how would you make it accepted by the public at large?
2.These quests are they to be done in real life?
3.If the answer to number 2 is yes, how would you, or the game, know?
4.If the answer to number 2 is no, how would it affect reality?

posted on Dec, 19 2015 @ 07:57 PM
PtP 2a

We’ve dusted his experiment off. We’ve corrected for the mistakes that got him in trouble with the central bank, and we’ve updated the overall plan to account for the seven decades of technological innovation since the original experiment, and this is the beating heart of Play the Planet’s economic engine.

To better explain how this works with the things I talked about in part one, I need to introduce another new term: Holon.

Holon is an ancient Greek term, meaning a thing that is fully self-sufficient, and yet part of a larger whole.

Holons are the basic unit of measure in Play the Planet.

In the United States, a Holon is equal to a county. Other countries will have some geopolitical construct that is the equivalent of counties, and those will be used in other nations. In countries that HAVE no equivalent, we’ll default to the definition of a Holon as being a one hundred mile radius from the largest population center in any given region.

These Holons define our playing fields. Our “level maps” if you will (to keep with the gaming terminology from before).

Individual players will be “playing the planet” wherever they are, and to gain XP for themselves, but they’ll also be involved in a larger story – the creation and development of a Holon in the area they live in. Here, they’ll be joined by other players (allies) and can begin tackling ever-larger issues and challenges. Holons also serve as the defining structure of local markets where Gc’s are spent on various goods and services.

I, as Play the Planet’s first citizen, will be actively involved in building the Holon in whatever country I ultimately purchase the land in, but of course, I’m not a Mayor. I have no political power. I can’t strong arm people into accepting Gc’s as payment, so how will I start?

I’ll start by offering a product for sale that EVERYONE needs. Food.

Everybody eats, and if you know you can BUY food with any Gc you collect (saving your US Dollars for other stuff), it removes all risk from the equation. There’s no longer any reason NOT to participate in the experiment, and lots of potential gains to be had by participating. I suspect that’s how EVERY new Holon will start, but of course, that remains to be seen. Together, collectively, the network will form a list of best practices as more people start joining in different areas, but those details are for another post.


posted on Dec, 19 2015 @ 08:00 PM
PtP Explanation, Part Three - Nuts and Bolts

Having provided the historical context for the economic model of the game, and having done that, now it’s time to start putting the various pieces together into a cohesive whole.

At the root, Play the Planet is actually three separate subsystems, meshed together like cogs in a wheel that drive a larger whole. Those three cogs are:

The “game cog,” which is driven by the LMS (Learning Management System), which houses the quests that the players use as one of their means of interacting with the game itself, and driving forward progress. These quests, as we covered in the last section, aren’t performed in isolation, but rather, in the context of a Holon, which provides a specific geographic frame of reference, and is useful for locating other players in close proximity (useful in terms of larger, more complex quests that require allies to complete).

Hand in hand with this is the “productivity cog,” which is in place to provide a communications framework that allows players, non profit groups, and interested citizens to communicate and interact with each other in ways that cut across traditional boundaries. This is important because in looking at the not for profit ecosystem, what we find is that each individual group is most often working in isolation. That is to say, while there ARE cases where non profits come together for brief periods to collaborate, these are the exception, and not the rule. Using the Holon as an umbrella, everyone IN a Holon, regardless of their affiliation with a particular group, can come together to collaborate on solutions to problems specific TO that Holon. This is done WHILE maintaining each individual group’s ability to communicate internally. In other words, each Holon has a suite of productivity, communication, and planning tools, which are replicated for individual groups, allowing both Holon-level and individual group communications simultaneously and seamlessly.

Finally, there’s the “Administrative Cog,” which recognizes that the system requires a not-insignificant amount of maintenance if it is to be the means by which actual work is done. There are forums to moderate, blogs to manage, files to archive and maintain, quests to moderate, disputes to adjudicate, and a host of other “behind the scenes” activities that MUST occur if the system is to maintain cohesion. These activities are quests also. Players can choose to be part of the administrative system that makes the game function, and be rewarded for those efforts just as players who go out into the world and help their fellow man.

What this game ultimately does then, is that it creates a system which encourages the creation of an ever growing cadre of servant leaders in communities around the world.

These cogs are lubricated by a variety of structures that help tie the various elements together. For instance, structured interaction between two players is considered to be a “transaction,” and at every transactional point, the players get the opportunity to “rate” one another. The rating system is tied to each player’s profile (one to five stars, akin to eBay’s rating system which is triggered when a purchase transaction is completed), and is a matter of public record. Your profile rating is, in effect, your resume of public service. People can tell at a glance who is trustworthy, and who is not. The system becomes self-policing.

The rating system is important in other ways too, because it has ties to the economic model.

One of the abilities that players can unlock as they gain experience is the ability to run a negative credit balance. The more four- and five-star ratings you get when you help your fellow man, the higher your “line of credit” can grow. One and two-star interactions decrease your creditworthiness. Since Gc can be used to buy real world goods and services, this matters, and what it essentially means is that players become their own “central bank,” with the size of the loans they can make to themselves being governed by how many times they’ve helped their fellow man. How many good works and deeds they have actually performed.

Note that this “line of credit” isn’t available to new players, but rather, is an EARNED ability, granted once a player has an established track record for helping others, making it rather difficult to “game the system.”

(continued next post)

posted on Dec, 19 2015 @ 08:01 PM
PtP Explanation 3a

I should also mention here, that there are actually two KINDS of PtP accounts planned. Paid and Free. The distinction and difference between the two is as follows:

Free account holders can make full use of the system as it presently exists. Paid users can extend and expand the existing system.

What that means in practice is this: Paid users can create new groups and blogs (including eCommerce blogs, where products are priced both in dollars and Gc), and create “Votables” which are fund raisers that the community can vote on and rank according to their importance TO the community. While anyone (free or paid) can vote on a Votable issues, only paid users can create them.

This is relevant because after the site pays salaries, and funds ongoing development, any money that’s left over will get poured back into the community. Each month, the votable that got the highest number of votes will be the project that the site helps to fund. If there’s still money left after funding the community’s top pick, we’ll move on to the votable that got the second highest number of votes, and so on. Democracy in action, and the community itself gets to direct where our profits go, and which problems they solve. Do we help the Salvation Army buy a bigger warehouse, or do we buy the industrial washer and dryer for the homeless shelter? Those things are determined by the number of votes they garner from within the community. Thus, growing the Holon you’re based out of is an important consideration, because of course, projects in YOUR Holon are more likely to get votes from other players living in your Holon.

In “game language” Holons are like “factions,” and groups within Holons (say, the “Salvation Army Group – Grayson County Holon”) would be specific alliances within that faction. Groups have Gc “Wallets” just like individuals do, so group members can pool their Gc to fund projects of a scale that an individual would be hard-pressed to perform on his/her own, and as the system matures, this will be one of the means by which large scale projects gain traction.

All of this, by the way, is informed by real world metrics. The US Department of Agriculture, for example, gives us a county-by-county breakdown of the number of food insecure people in the nation. Using this metric, and others like it, a Holon can track with a high degree of accuracy, how it’s doing in terms of improving. These become the game’s “scoring mechanisms,” except that of course, instead of shooting for a high score, you’re actually shooting for zero. Zero food insecure people. Zero homeless in a given county (Holon), and so on, and of course, all of these stats are kept up to date by virtue of various Archival quests.

So that, in a very large nutshell, is Play the Planet, what it does, how it does it, and why.

This is the reason I made the career choices that I made. I needed the flexibility of a freelancing career so I could work on this project. And now you know the basics.

Imagine this system at maturity. The entire concept of “work” and “job” could, at least for serious players, become utterly meaningless. Life is work, and vice versa. Rather than having a “job” in the traditional sense, you simply commit to living your life in the service to others. To Playing the Planet, and as you do so…as you complete quests that ask you to help your fellow man, you are rewarded for those efforts with Gc, which you use to cause the resources you need to flow to you and your family as a consequence of your good works.

The system is self selecting, too. Since it REQUIRES acts of service to generate Gc, people looking for a handout won’t find one here. You have to EARN your Gc. It’s not a “job” per se, but it IS work, and people who don’t want to work either won’t sign up in the first place, or if they do, they won’t get good reviews, and will eventually just drop out of the system.

The great thing though, is that this fits into anyone’s schedule. You don’t need to ask anyone’s permission to perform acts of service, you just do it. You have to get approval to work overtime at your job, but you can earn Gc here any time you feel like it, which you can spend on REAL goods and services, absolutely any time you want, because let’s face it, there’s always SOMETHING that needs to be taken care of, right?

Oh! Forgot one more thing. The site will also have a “Craigslist-style” classifieds system called “Needawanna.” This system will allow users to post goods or services for sale, priced in Gc, or advertise that they need help completing a quest (which of course, also carries a Gc reward for the person who helps the user complete the quest). Having a totally user driven market for Gc is pivotal in terms of helping foster a vibrant market of goods and services.


posted on Dec, 19 2015 @ 08:03 PM
PtP Explanation, part Four - Deeper Implications

Having outlined, at least in broad terms, the way the “game” works, and its major functional elements, now, I want to spend at least a little time looking ahead to what it all MEANS.

Once I realized that I’d hit upon a way to use a “game” to change stuff in the real world, the very next question I asked myself was, “Okay – so it looks like this works…now what the hell do you want to do with it? What would you like to change, exactly?”

It didn’t take long to come up with an answer. There are issues (poverty, hunger, homelessness, hopelessness) that we’ve been struggling with since civilization began. Lots of really smart people have tried lots of different strategies to alleviate them, but so far at least, nobody has succeeded.

I am not a Utopian. Truth be told, I don’t even like people all that much (what I mean by that is that I’m Bi-Polar and people generally scare the # out of me, which is why I live all by myself on top of a freaking mountain), so the irony of the fact that I’m making a game designed to help cure a variety of social ills is not lost on me. And I’ll be quick to add that the level of success this project sees with regards to solving ANYTHING isn’t going to be up to me, but rather, will be a function of the enthusiasm and level of determination with which players of the game “Play the Planet.” Maybe we’ll make one helluva dent in these problems, and maybe we won’t. I have no idea. What I DO know is that this method is something we haven’t tried yet, and I’m willing to do the work to build the architecture so we can give it a go and find out.

Again though, NOT a Utopian. I don’t believe that sitting around a camp fire, holding hands and singing Kum-Bay-Yah will solve a damned thing. If you wanna do something like that after a hard day of ass-busting work, awesome, but don’t forget the ass-busting work bit, because that’s what’s actually going to move the needle.

So – full circle. What, specifically, do I want to change?

The first thing I did was look at what we actually had statistics for.

The USDA tells us how many food insecure people in each county there are. Check. Let’s use that as a metric, and set a long term goal to reduce that number to zero, Holon by Holon.

We know, or can find out what percentage of energy produced in each Holon is produced sustainably. Check. Let’s make that a metric. Target = 100%.

We have access to county by county homeless figures. Check. Target = 0%.

That’s where I stopped initially. I decided I was actually NOT going to worry about the unemployment rate. At all.

Does that surprise you?

It shouldn’t, and here’s why.

One of the biggest challenges of our age will be what to do with all the human capital we’re shedding in favor of large scale robotics.

This is creating a permanent underclass of unemployed people who literally have nothing to do.

Play the Planet gives them something creative, fun, and challenging to do, without requiring them to have a “job” per se.

In fact, once the system begins to take root, it is my hope that it will render the notion of a “job” obsolete.

Note, this is not the same thing as saying that it will render WORK obsolete – obviously not. But once the system achieves critical mass, it will be possible for an individual without a “job” in the classical sense of the word to Play the Planet, live his life in the service of others, be rewarded for doing so with Gc (trade credits), and use those trade credits to see that the resources he needs flow to him and his family.

The dollar economy isn’t going anywhere (obviously), and this system is not designed to supplant or replace it. It’s designed to work in tandem WITH it. A companion system. A complimentary system designed to take up the slack when people get kicked out of the dollar economy game.

People who are not kicked out of the dollar economy game can play too, of course, and the great thing is, you can earn as much as you want. You don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to earn Gc…you just find something that needs to be done and you do it. No forms to sign, no need to get your boss’ okay to work overtime – you just…live.

“By serving each other, we become free.” And sure enough, we do. Pretty cool.


posted on Dec, 19 2015 @ 08:05 PM
PtP Explanation, Part Five

At this point, since it's just me, there are no heroes or villains. I have no wish to be one of the heroes of the story. Those (along with the villains) will no doubt, come later, and make no mistake - there will be conflict. There will be villains.

I say this because as the PtP Network grows, it's going to scare the everliving HELL out of entrenched interests. They will not understand it, or its purpose, and we've seen countless examples of what happens in those cases.

When something changes, and is not understood, it is reflexively despised.

When it is despised, an attempt is made to destroy it in order to prevent it, and the ideas behind it from spreading.

Whether these attempts ultimately succeed or fail will be up to the heroes who arise from the community to prevent this from happening. Their stories and struggles will come later. Consider this to be the prologue.

Since I am neither hero nor villain, call me the Architect. My lot is simply to build the framework around which the story will grow.

It's an interesting story, and I'll tell it to the present day, then keep this post updated periodically until launch day.

Here's My Story:

The Tale of The Architect

"Is it possible to create a (computer) game that, when played, the simple act of playing the game can cause a variable to change in the real, physical world?"

When my friend Daniel first asked me this question, I had just had my third heart attack.

I was dating a woman named Cindy at the time, and it was she who called the ambulance and took care of me until the EMTs arrived.

I was taken to the hospital, evaluated, and a quadruple bypass planned.

The surgery was delayed for 12 days because I had been on blood thinners, and it took that long for my blood to thicken to the point that the surgery was not a risk. Every day, they'd come in to draw blood in the morning, assuring me that "today was the day," and every afternoon, they'd come back and tell me we'd have to wait again.

Having that looming like a shadow over my head for the better part of two weeks was pure, nail biting agony.

Eventually, however, the day came.

I told the Anesthesiologist that she'd need to give me quite a lot of anesthesia, and that when I came out of it, it would not be a gradual thing, but a sudden awakening.

She didn't believe me, but she should have. When I came awake (suddenly, just as I told her I would), I reflexively tried to pull the breathing tube from my throat.

They had to handcuff me to the bed to prevent me from doing so.

My acute pancreatitis scar was now joined by the classic "zipper scar." The two are separated only by about two inches.

My body is a patchwork of scars. With each new accident or medical malfunction, I look increasingly like Frankenstein's Monster.

I used to have a hat that said "Scars are tattoos with better stories." Lost the hat in the "Tragic Bear Incident of 2010," but still remember the phrase, and I'd agree. I have some pretty good stories.

Anyway, eventually, they let me come home, back to Cindy's, since I was living with her at the time.

She took care of me.

Nursed me back to health, which was no easy task.

Sleeping sitting up, being unable to draw more than a shallow wasn't a picnic, but once physical therapy started, I began to recover more quickly.

It was during this period that Daniel asked me the question that changed the course of my life.

I had lots of spare time to devote to the question then, because I was healing, and this was the thing I poured myself into. This, and regaining my former sense of self. My former strength.

Eventually, I answered Daniel's question and began working on the first (very early, buggy, crash prone, and hideously ugly) prototype of the website, and had begun conducting my earliest real world experiments. I completed the game's first "Quests" and measured their effectiveness.

Here were the prototypical quests I designed for myself:

I had been reading about small plot farming techniques, two of which appealed to me. Jeavan's Biointensive Method, and Bartholomew's "Square Foot" Method.

There were things I liked about both, so I took the bits I wanted, and combined them to create my own methodology, which I gave the rather unfortunate acronym HYNA ("Hyena"), which stands for High Yield, Natural Agronomy.

Unemployment was still quite high at the beach, and area homeless shelters and soup kitchens were stretched thin.

I found one of these (serving 90 plates a day), and spoke with the people who ran the place.

I offered to help them double their plate capacity, and promised that it would not cost them a dime.

The first thing I did was buy them a greenhouse from Amazon (Shelter Logic, 10'x20').

Then I learned how to build raised beds for planting out of wood from shipping pallets.

The greenhouse was set up in the rear of their parking lot, and as I began putting it together, something magical and amazing happened.

As the people who ate their meals finished, and exited the building with full bellies, they stopped.

Not all of them, to be sure, but a big percentage.

They asked what I was doing, and why, and when they found out, they pitched in to help me.

They became part of the process.

The soup kitchen stopped being "just a handout," because they were INVOLVED.

Things went much faster after that.

Once my new helpers were up to speed on my "cutting edge" raised bed production techniques (no measuring - just eyeballing, a sawzal, and a nail gun), I went off to find a guy named Dan.

I had seen Dan's van around town, and had the first inklings of an idea.

Dan was a small businessman. "Dan the Gutter Man."

He, predictably enough, installed gutters on the sides of houses.

I asked him what he did with the old ones.

Come to find out, they all wound up in the landfill, so I asked him for some.

He gave them to me, and I took them back to the soup kitchen.

We cleaned them, and I went to Lowe's to buy some shelf brackets.

We mounted the gutters on the side of the building, and used them as really long planter boxes.

Before long, we had tons of green, growing things, and the people that USED the soup kitchen's services got into the habit of helping tend to them. Again, they became part of the process.

By itself, this did not double the number of plates served at the soup kitchen, though it did give them a solid increase.

We needed more, so of course, I went home and started watching TV.

One of the shows I came across was the silly "Extreme Couponing" show.

I knew they probably used some off camera cheats that most people couldn't replicate, but I resolved to replicate the basic process.

Got a methodology to about 85% of what the show promised.

Armed with that information, I went back to the Soup Kitchen.

I discovered that while they get most of their food from food banks, they DO have to go to the grocery store to pick up ingredients that are needed to complete a menu.

I found that they were saving, on average, about 15% per shopping trip, so I offered to teach them my methodology.

We went shopping together, and sure enough, they were able to save an additional 50-70% over and above what they'd been saving before, per trip.

That, coupled with the success of the HYNA beds in the parking lot actually MORE than doubled their number of plates served.

Mission accomplished.

(continued next post)
edit on 19-12-2015 by Velociryx because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 19 2015 @ 08:05 PM
PtP Explanation, 5a

At that point, I knew that Quests could make a real world difference. Make a tangible impact, but there's more to the story.

Six of the people who regularly ate at the kitchen, and two of the volunteers approached me privately and asked if I could help them set up similar systems at home.

I was happy to help, and we replicated the experiment eight more times.

These Quests were the templates from which the "Home Grown" and "Helping Hands" quests were derived.

Cindy and I had been drifting apart since before the heart attack, but the recovery period only intensified and sped that process along. In the end, we parted ways (my fault and doing), and I packed what few things I had in this world, and left.

That's when it hit me that I had nowhere to go, but by then, a realization had dawned on me.

Because of the nature of Play the Planet, I realized that the only way I could finish it was from the inside out.

That is to say, I had to become Play the Planet's "First Citizen." I had to give myself, and my life, over to the game, and start "Playing the Planet" without the benefit of the system architecture, which I would build as I went.

In order to do that, I also realized that I had to start from literally nothing. It was the only way.

So I became homeless, and lived out of a cheap, rather disgusting hotel for five days until I could figure something out.

Every day, I scanned Craigslist. I had no clear idea what I was looking for, but I trusted my instincts, and that I'd know it when I saw it.

On day four, I found it.

A small animal sanctuary in Georgetown, about 30 miles south.

They needed help.

They specialized in feral cats, and were going to rent a room to help get money to care for the rescued cats.

I called with a counter proposal.

I'd live there and tend to them, writing freelance in my downtime. I'd even create a program to socialize the ones we felt could be adopted out to permanent homes. Having never done anything of the sort before, I had no idea if I even could, but I sold it well, and they accepted.

Now all I had to do was GET there.

I'd sold my car to get the money for the hotel, so I had no idea how I'd manage it, but - I was in the grip of the Planet now, and trusted that it would work out.

It did.

The next morning, I was awakened by the sound of music and laughter in the parking lot. "Suzie Q," by CCR. Nice.

There were five shirtless, filthy, grimy men in the parking lot, cooking chicken and drinking beer at seven o'clock in the morning.

I smiled, thinking "now there's something you don't see every day."

Curious, I went down to find out more.

It turns out, they were from North Carolina.

They worked for a company called "Heavy Metal," which was a company that specialized in working on heavy things made out of metal.

I liked it.

They were working on one of the ginormous fans in the steel mill in Georgetown, and they'd just gotten off shift. This was dinnertime for them.

They were heading back that way later that night.

I told them my story, and they invited me to have dinner (chicken and beer) with them at eight o'clock in the morning.

Over dinner, they invited me to ride with them to the animal shelter.

I called the place, and told them my plans for getting there, and that was that.

I rode in the "Heavy Metal" work van from Myrtle Beach to Georgetown, where I spent the next ten months living and working, 24/7 with feral cats, and making a name for myself with the freelance writing.

With any spare time I had, I continued working on Play the Planet.

By now, I had a clear vision of where I wanted to start.

Appalachia is the most economically depressed region in the US. If my idea could be made to work there, then it stood to reason that it could be made to work anywhere.

Besides, I figured that land would be cheap in the region, so that's what I set my sights on.

It took me the better part of a year to develop my freelancing career to the point where I was in a position to move, but in December of 2014, I was ready.

I moved to Galax, VA on January 4th.

It was a balmy 74 degrees when I left Myrtle Beach.

It was snowing when I arrived at the top of the mountain at four o'clock in the morning, with three terrified feral cats in tow (the last three I had been working with).

I knew it would take time to pay off the debts incurred to make the move, so I resolved not to even bother to look for land until I had the money in the bank.

Along the way, I discovered that I could help one of my ferals.

Little Patches had become blind when she was just three months old.

I found a specialist who could perform a surgery that would restore at least some of her sight.

Yes, having the surgery done was going to be expensive, and it would set me back several months where the land acquisition was concerned, but it was also the right thing to do.

I knew that for certain the day I brought Patches back from her surgery.

She spent the first hour groggy.

She spent the second hour ripping off the plastic cone they'd put around her head.

Then she spent the next two hours running all through the house, exploring it for the first time with her eyes.

Every couple of minutes, she'd run up to me, stand on her hind legs, tap my leg and chirp as if to say, "Dad! Dad, come LOOK at this, you've gotta see!" then scamper back off to continue her explorations.

And that, my friends, brings us up to date.

Play the Planet was born out of the imagination of an intoxicated homeless man, who currently lives like a hermit on top of a mountain in rural Virginia because people kinda scare him, but who nonetheless has a deep, driving need to take the broken things of this world and make them shine. Its launch was delayed by a blind cat.

posted on Dec, 19 2015 @ 08:08 PM
PtP Explanation, Part Six - Power and 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 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. It's 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.


edit on 19-12-2015 by Velociryx because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 19 2015 @ 08:30 PM
PtP Explanation, Finis - The Long Term Unemployment Problem

Humans are clever. Sometimes, they're maybe a little too clever for their own good. Here's a case in point:

Since Milton Friedman's essay in the 1970's, business schools all over the world teach that the primary function of the corporation is to maximize shareholder value. Anything else is seen as a distraction.

The result of this kind of thinking has been a greater focus on the short term, to externalize every cost possible (let someone else clean it up or deal with it), and of course, to keep all the productivity gains, rather than share them with the workers who actually make the business function in the first place.

Of course, it took some time for that line of thinking to work its way firmly into the corporate consciousness, but when it did, we saw an immediate shift. Wages and productivity gains stopped tracking in tandem as they had in preceding decades.

Human workers are any given company's biggest expense. Any corporation that finds a way to minimize the dollar value of their single biggest expense category will achieve their primary mission of maximizing shareholder value and enhance their profits. That's good, right? (note: 60% of Fortune 500 Companies are Delaware corporations, and the notion that a corporation is primarily beholden to its shareholders is actually written into Delaware Corporate Law, and borne out by the recent Ebay v. Craigslist court case, on that very matter).

Thus, in the decades that followed this new paradigm, we saw wage stagnation, an orchestrated campaign to destroy labor unions, offshoring, right-sizing, and all manner of other buzzwords that all amount to the same thing: Squeezing the life out of the American worker (not that this phenomenon is limited to US shores by any means).

And then, there's robotics.

Robots don't need to take breaks. They don't get sick. They don't need time off or take maternity leave. They just do what they do...endlessly.

Some savvy Captains of Industry immediately jumped onto the robotics bandwagon, and replaced their expensive human workers with more cost effective robots.

Predictably, they saw their costs decrease and their profits increase.

Sure, the new advances create new job opportunities, but clearly, as the number of long term under and unemployed figures indicate, not at the same rate that jobs are destroyed. This is the main mechanism by which we're seeing the growth of a permanent underclass, but here's the problem with that approach:

Let's say you own a factory making a popular consumer product...we'll call it the Swizzbanger, because it sounds like a word Dr. Seuss would use.

You employ lots of humans, and they take part of their paychecks and go buy Swizzbangers.

One day, you decide to automate your factory. When you do, you fire 98 of your 100 employees. Sixty of them go on to get employment in other industries...about half of them part time, and about half full time. Those sixty-two (the two you keep, and the sixty re-employed) still buy swizzbangers, and honestly, the fact that your market share shrank by 40 people is such a tiny thing you don't even feel it. It's too small to register.

One day, while vacationing in Aruba with your fellow Captains of Industry, you regale your friends with tales of your profit maximizing exploits.

When everyone returns home, they follow your lead, and now, everybody is making lots more money. Factories are more productive than ever and profits are way up! Getting rid of those pesky human expenses was a good move. The board couldn't be happier.

But...robots don't buy Swizzbangers, and with each new company that fully automates, the size of your market shrinks imperceptibly. In the aggregate though, and over time, as more and more companies in more and more industries continue to automate, there are fewer and fewer people who can afford to buy Swizzbangers, because of course, the folks who aren't working any more don't have the income to do so, and the robots don't care either way.

Thus, ever greater levels of automation collectively destroy the very markets they were designed to serve, because employees are not JUST a ledger expense...they're also the customers.

But it doesn't matter. The drive to maximize shareholder value INSISTS on this course of action, and since an individual company's contribution to the destruction of the market is imperceptibly small, and the immediate financial gains so notable, this is the course of action that gets selected.

End result? More and more people out of work or underemployed, which is, in fact, what we're seeing today.

Play the Planet fills the gap created by this phenomenon, because humans discarded by the profit maximizing, cost externalizing corporate system can find plenty of work in the PtP Network, in service to their fellow man. Even better, those works are compensated via trade credits that enable them to provide for their families.

There will be three basic attitudes toward PtP, broadly speaking:

1) Those who fear or mistrust it, and want nothing to do with it (this also includes people who simply don't know about it at all)
2) Those who are underemployed, and live with a foot in both systems (the dollar economy and PtP's companion system)
3) The long term unemployed who use PtP as their primary means of providing for themselves and their families

Understand that we absolutely will make full use of every technological trick in the book, including robotics. The difference, however, is that we are beholden to each other in service - not to maximizing profits for the board. We won't have any shareholders...just community members.

posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 03:05 AM
a reply to: Velociryx

Sounds amazing to motivate people to learn things that once you are engaged in are very positive and satisfying but most would never bother as its deemed too much effort on behalf of the participant.
This game has brilliant potential.
At the high end where tasks get harder,quests could be learn a foreign language in a year.
Run a half marathon in 6 months of training.
Build your own power supply etc.
Every year i task myself about 10 things to do or learn and am about 80% successful as i can keep motivating myself but my friends full of big aspirations for the coming New Year have already procrastinated after a few days.

The game could be used for the overall general wellbeing of the participants.
Good luck..

posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 03:32 AM
Not done reading just yet but wow!!
This can work I totally see it.
The concept is amazing..
I need sleep bug I'll be back with more in depth posts. Very interesting

a reply to: Velociryx

posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 04:00 AM
Interesting idea. Reminds me a bit of the game ingress, in the fact that it gets people out of the house. And geo cacheing a bit too. Keep up the good work.

posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 06:55 AM
a reply to: southbeach

That's exactly correct (and good morning!) In fact, one of the Quests is "Quest Designer" (part of the Archival family of quests), because I know that I cannot possibly come up with all of the Quests that will be needed in order to bring the game to full flower (and this, of course, is a Quest that earns Gc for each approved Quest).

I'm hoping, although at this point, it is purely theoretical) that the prospect of Gc awards will be sufficiently compelling to overcome the possible diminishing effect you mentioned of people not wanting to take the time and effort in the service to others, but as another poster mentioned, this concept has, at least in some fashion, been tried and proven effective via games like Ingress (which is a wonderful game!)

Unfortunately, one of the biggest stumbling blocks I am currently facing is the fact that there's no easy way to "explain the concept." After two years of planning and development, I'm still left with a somewhat cumbersome, seven part explanation, and that's just overwhelming for most people. It is this reality that prompted me to move to Virginia, start saving for land, and ultimately, to build the first real world prototypes so that people can SEE it in action, rather than having to slog through mountains of text. That's a slow process, but I'm getting there.

I had not considered the language and health matters, but those would both make EXCELLENT Quests (how would you like to be a Quest Designer? *grin*) - I've not done anything yet in the social sphere, but I think that would be a natural home for both of those, though I do have a Power section quest re: building your own sustainable power supply, in the same vein as the "Home Grown" Quest...the threads are slowly coming together!


edit on 20-12-2015 by Velociryx because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 06:56 AM
a reply to: Reverbs

Thank you very much! I hope, as you continue reading, you like it even more, and I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it!


posted on Dec, 20 2015 @ 07:00 AM
a reply to: BadBoYeed

Yes! I absolutely loved Ingress! The game does borrow heavily from concepts like that, Superbetter, Raise the Village, and even Foldit, and FreeRice (all of which are other games that, at the micro level, can "change stuff" in the real world, simply by my knowledge, no one has attempted to scale the concept globally before, and as I continue with development, I can kinda see why...LOL - it's a massive undertaking, but...I've grown quite accustomed to working on big projects.

My first novel took me 18 months to complete. Everybody said I was crazy, and that I wouldn't finish.

The trilogy I wrote (and later added a fourth book), took 7 years. Everybody said I was crazy and that I wouldn't finish.

The computer game we made based on the trilogy took eleven years...everybody said I was crazy and that I wouldn't finish.

Same story here, but I'm "only" two years in. Piece of cake!


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