The Unconscious

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Fledgeling will likely have an “unconscious layer” of information. Things the player can not view or directly change, but nevertheless influences the player character’s actions. Unlike most games, the player’s control over their character will be tenuous at best. Most of the necessary functions required for efficient functioning are trivial and unimportant for conscious decision.┬áThe player controls the character, by which we mean the character’s major decisions. But for everything else the character relies, to a great degree, on the subconcious.

Now, before you point it out, yes, I am fully aware that “unconscious” and “subconscious” mean two different things. Fortunately I intend to ignore both formal definitions. What I mean is basically anything that you don’t make a decisive choice about.

We all know a great deal. We also choose to ignore almost all of it. Or, at least, we try to. What we do not ignore we think about and discuss with others. What we do ignore, our subconscious thinks about, processes, and connects to everything else. The suggestions of this atavistic, obsessive, unscrupulous, paranoid accountant turned collector we call “intuition”.

Often we will forget things. But this only means losing our conscious connection to the information. If we wish to truly forget we must put effort into it, for the subconscious weaves experiences together into a tight nest of being. We often forget many other things when we attempt to blot out a bad experience, harming our minds in the process. Often, when we least expect it (for if we expected it, we would be relying on the conscious!) the memory will return to us in full flavor.

But most often we don’t want to be bothered with these details, as most are actually meaningless except in bulk. I like vanilla icecream not because of some defining traumatic turning point, but through the accumulated experiential weight of many years of positive encounters. I can’t even recall more than a handful of specific instances of vanilla icecream. And yet the knowledge is as true to me as mathematics or color.

Of course, conscious knowledge is important as well, but accessing the bulk data required to “make sense” of unconscious knowledge is likely more trouble than it is worth. Often the subconscious offers up options and the conscious discerns between them. We never deal with the actual slew of possibilities, only the choices presented.

For instance, we do not consciously control our walking. Even the direction that we are going is often under automatic control. We choose our destination, and our eyes, legs, arms and toes all coordinate to bring us there safely and upright. If we stumble we are very rarely offered a conscious decision about how to deal with it. At the best we have pre-prepared our subconscious functions to account for our circumstances (don’t fall on the baby!) so that when the time comes the reflexes act appropriately.

Fledgeling will rely a great deal on this accumulated bulk knowledge. Aggregated, averaged, skewed, and refined for consumption and consideration. It will be the player’s responsibility to train and prime their character’s subconscious properly through consistent action in a similar direction.

In this sense, the unconcious is going to be a lot like a spam filter. You’ll have to train it, and it will get things wrong occasionally, but eventually it will get pretty good.

For example, the PC may know something about buldozers. Perhaps the player told the PC that buldozers are yellow and push dirt around. Then, as the PC sees various objects they will think of them in terms of “buldozerieness” as well as various other qualities. At some point the PC will see a white buldozer and go “what’s that?” and the player will have to tell it “that’s a buldozer too”. So then the PC’s unconcious goes to work and starts analyzing all the things this new example of a buldozer has in common with all the other buldozers it knows about. The “buldozer” archetype in the PC’s ideaspace will morph to match the evidence.

Years later the PC may be looking at a huge hill, and wondering how to climb it. “Easy” their unconcious mind chimes in, “Just use a buldozer!”

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