My Secret Life as an Expat Gamer – Player Character Versus Non Player Character

Character Sheet

Everything had been going well up until the point the guard had woken himself up by snoring and just happened to catch Terrik in mid-pick on the lock of the door across the hallway. Purely chaotic, bad luck. Until then he’d made it past the three first-level guards, a tired manservant pushing a broom and an outbound prostitute before he’d made it to the door, completely undetected. And it was inside this very room that his whole reason for breaking in existed.

A quick jab to the throat sent the guard down in a gasping heap, but not before he’d let out a startled shout. After that, there was no point in worrying about silence and stealth anymore. Terrick wasn’t going to leave empty-handed, so boot to door made the most sense.

Splinters flew, heel jerked in pain that would turn into a bruise tomorrow, a yelp from the bed as the owner clutched his sheets around his frame and fumbled in the dark for his sword. Or a crossbow. There wasn’t time to find out, and a quick scan was all that was needed to locate the book he had been hired to retrieve. Impossible to miss, tucked away behind colored glass as it were, all displayed with pride and joy.

Other heel down, shattered glass, book in hand, into pack and out the door, only to come face to face with three charging guards from the left and two more from the right. Quick glance over shoulder reveals iron bars over the window. Not an exit. Take deep breath, commence getaway.

A couple of quick lunges got him up to speed for the right, and he spun slightly on his heel as he leapt, hoping to clear the guards. They cursed and tried to catch him mid-run, fingers wide and reaching, but he was above their claws. All clear, and then the toe of his left foot impacted with the left guard’s face, sending him into a stumbled landing, crashing into the wall, knocking a painting to the floor.

Two crossbow bolts shot from the three guards firing over the two sprawling guards he had just bowled over buried into the wall next to his head with a thunderous thwump thwump. He jigged to the right as he ducked and tried to recover from the landing. The rasp of steel drawn behind him, then horn blast, then another two guards coming up the stairwell as he reached it.

No choice but to avoid, so he swung himself up over the stair railing and took the leap down to the first floor, a good ten foot drop. He was ready for the impact, remembering it from earlier, crouching low to absorb and rolling forward into a somersault directly in front of the guard on the right hand side of the front door, both he and his fellow guard on the left in mid-turn as they heard his tumbled landing. A leg sweep for the one on the right, then as the one on the left reaches for his collar and swings a blade he ducks under the steel and half-stumbles, half-falls out onto the stairs of the front entry.

Cold night, torch light, shadowed burrows stretch out before him. The night is his element, and it’s time to disappear. He sprints for the nearest building with a first-story access and quickly scales its walls even as the shouts ring out behind him, “There, on the roof!” No worries. Six rooftops later and he’s slowed his pace to a casual run, springing from roof edge to roof edge as he makes his way back into the heart of the downtown district.

Time to get paid.

Being The Player Character

Terrik is what is known as a Player Character in the gaming world. He has something that sets him apart from the rest of humanity: PC Status.

PC Status is the defining skill that sets you apart from the rest of the masses. You are more than just ordinary, and you are much more than average. Rather than rolling a bunch of 8s and 10s and only a couple of 12s during your character creation, you got 14s, 16s and maybe an 18 or so.

You were smarter, prettier, stronger, faster, more skilled at something, but in some way or another PC status is what sets you apart from the rest of the meat suits. It’s what makes the difference between Bill Gates and anyone else who was born in the same year, lived in the same area and went to the same schools. It’s that special something.

It has nothing to do with luck. PC Status is what sets a Hero apart from the serfs. He’s the one who isn’t afraid to pick up the sword, to rob the castle, to brave the spider-infested dungeons of Kranthagol because deep within the lair lies the Sword of Thalius and the Bow of Bethar.

A Hero braves the cold, the heat, the sprawls, the dumps, the dungeons, the sewers, the mountains and the sea to achieve his or her goal. They inspire others to go along with them, leading through strength, bravery, wit, genius and beyond, based upon what their primary PC Status character trait is.

Someone with PC status makes their mark on the world and is remembered after they are gone. They are the Masters of their own Universe. They aren’t afraid to go out into the cold and the dark with nothing more than a torch and a sword or spell, because they’ve handled challenges like this before. It’s just one more step on the evolution to perfection, the learning experiences that shape us into the Heroes that Player Characters were born to be.

In the world of Terrik, he is the Player Character and the fumbling, bumbling guards are the Non Player Characters.

Player Character

Life Skills

I’m a long-time D&D fan. Up until the point I left the U.S. at the end of 2007, it had been as much a part of my life as MMORPGs and video games had been. The 12+ years I was living on my own up until that point had been an accumulation of all those roleplaying experiences. Which in mind lead to some of the most critical thinking anyone will ever achieve as a result of continually brainstorming and finding new ways around challenges through group interaction with a dedicated team of like-minded thinkers and artists.

I’m a firm believer that gaming leads to life skills. You’ve seen it in the other Secret Life of an Expat Gamer entries. Just as I was running 15 to 25 man crews for the construction business back in the day, I was also running teams of 30 to 40 players through raids and dungeons for six years, leading the guild to two different top 10 lists in my time as a hardcore gamer (EQ2, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes). Management. Team-building. Teamwork. Leadership.

Puzzle-solving as you come up against dungeon traps and in-game quests require critical, out-of-the-box thinking. You can’t just pass the buck to someone else when you are playing a video game and walking your character through the depths of a dungeon or in the middle of a quest. The decision rests on your shoulders, and you and you alone are the only one who will gain the glory and credit if you pull it off. Or you’ll die trying.

Non Player Characters aren’t born with innate PC Status, but they can earn it. Just as in the games there are often tomes you can find after achieving lengthy quests or overcoming challenging odds that lead to stat increases, or earn more experience points as you go along to enhance your abilities as you see fit, in life there are many things which lead to experience that can in turn be traded in for enhanced skill in a certain area.

A person who wants to paint, for example, not simply dabbling in it in their spare time, but choosing instead to spend four to six hours a day, every day, for four years working on their craft, building and doing it for their own betterment as well as to get good at it. Studying under a master, serving a mentorship, spending day upon day, hour after hour, on enhancing that one specific skill. The reward is an enhancement of that attribute after hard work and persistence. It might take you 10 levels (10 years), but eventual you always enhance your status through long hours of study…and that’s no different than reality.

Being The Hero

Being a Player Character is hard work. You don’t get to be a peon following someone else’s lead. Rather, you are the leader. The one people follow. You have the power, while others only dream about it. You have the freedom, while others only look on and wish. While the stable boy sweeps stalls and shovels horse shit, dreaming of winning the hand of the princess in marriage, you are out there, sword in hand, slitting the throat of the beast that was set to eat said princess, a night of steamy passion ahead as she sinks into your arms, not his.

You take the risks others are afraid to. You push yourself further, working longer hours, pursuing your passion with all your strength and dedication. Where others spend 10 mninutes a day focusing their time, you spend five hours. Training. Preparation. Becoming the best you can possibly be.

Giant spiders, dragons, the dark recesses of the Earth, glory, destiny and the phat lewts belong to you and those who are brave enough and skilled enough to come along for the ride. You are the Hero, the one the bards and storytellers will sing and write about for centuries to come. Your time…is now. 

Are you a Player Character? What are you doing to enhance your skills? Haven’t broken out of the NPC mold yet? Have questions or comments? Leave them below or shoot them to me in an email and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

This blog post was inspired by Luck Is Just the Spark for Business Giants.

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About T.W. Anderson

T.W. Anderson is the founder of the Marginal Boundaries brand. He is the writer, editor, videographer, photographer, and social media guru alongside Cristina Barrios, the other half of the brand. In his spare time, he is the creative director of the Saga of Lucimia, a forthcoming MMORPG from Stormhaven Studios, LLC.

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