Lagom, good enough (sorta)

There are unique cultural understandings that are ingrained in the psyche of anyone from that culture. Words, basic understanding that don’t require explanation for anyone from that culture, but hard to explain in a perfect way to people that are not from it. It’s something that takes generations to form and anyone new to that culture probably don’t get it. If they do, they’re probably from some other culture with a similar understanding.

No, I’m not talking about the land of opportunity. That’s not hard to understand, or even exceptional. I hate to bring culture and politics together, but those are not hard words. You could easily find a dozen or more words that encapsulates the idea of unfettered opportunity. But take something like British humor. There’s a ‘reason’ for it. A reason ingrained to the fabric of British citizens that we on the outside probably don’t understand. Because it too, is a matter of generations – something you’re baked in, that so perfectly encapsulates many things about the British society.

Just as the idea of Japanese cultural loyalty is. The idea that you’re so ‘owned’ by honor to a certain entity that the very idea to kill yourself if you lose that ‘honor’ is a real possibility. Even to this day do you find that type of ingrained cultural ideas. Like that scientists where others in his company was found fudging data and altho completely cleared of any wrongdoing felt so ashamed of these actions that as a head of his lab he committed suicide. Sure, this is not light stuff for what is mostly a gaming blog, but I’m mentioned this as an example of something I personally feel (about games) that has to do with my culturally ingrained philosophy.

Lagom.

Lagom (pronounced [ˈlɑ̀ːɡɔm]) is a Swedish word with no direct English equivalent, meaning “just the right amount”.

You should read the link. Because you’ll soon notice that lagom is almost impossible to describe in one single word – at least in English and at least in anyway an American would understand it (or British or whatever). Because moderation is not lagom – lagom is kinda like Karmatic balance, the idea that there’s enough and not enough and right there is a perfect balance between them. I know right. Who decide this balance? The beauty of the idea of lagom isn’t that you measure it – it’s a feeling. Kinda like once you hit that house, that promotion and that car you have fulfilled the idea of lagom. In essence each individual have this idea of what lagom is, what this perfect balance of too much and too little is and it’s often used as an attack on others for their avarice.

Personally I’m not a proponent of lagom on others, but to me it’s a good balance between having what you need and want and the greed of wanting more then you can possibly need. And it can translate into games just fine just as it does to your average dysfunctional life.

Maybe it helps me to define a limit to my megalomaniac need of ‘more’? Would I mind winning the lottery? No – in fact I’d love too. Eventho it would push me above this self limited balance of needs and wants. Would I self balance myself? Would I suddenly become Santa and give until I get back to the balance? Would you be surprised if I said I don’t know? In fact I probably wouldn’t. Through life I’ve gone from worse to better jobs. From lower to higher salaries. And from little to more money and managed to figure out how to spend that until I’m back to having lots coming in and lots more going out. That’s life.

And just as in games I’ve gone from the guy – my first FvS, with little to no gear to having so many mules and so much stuff that I can’t possibly ever use it. Yet the idea of lagom is still there. That there is a point where I can satisfy all of it and there’s a point where I’ll be completely content with what I’ve done and what I have and what I’ve accomplished that I really don’t need to do anything more. And that, is really the idea behind this post.

There are those that fully admit to themselves that they have no self limitations. That what they do is to live outside their means with an avarice and greed for more because limitations are foolish and you only got this one life. That modesty is false moderation. Others live with simpler moderation – that if you already have IT then giving someone else a similar IT isn’t much of an issue. That’s not an idea of ‘lagom’ – that’s really not a self limitation of thinking there’s a balance. That’s the idea of charity knowing that this particular item will never be used. The greedy would simply take it. Screw the idea of someone else wanting it even if it’s not needed. Doesn’t matter if there’s even 3 in the inventory. The charitable already understand that item x is of no use and they don’t see themselves ever needing it, so handing it to the next man and let them fight over it is a lot better.

In fact the idea of lagom is useless here.

Lagom would dictate that the item is a bastard sword, you already got a good one – sure it’s not the same, but you got one and it’s just as good as any so you don’t need it. But that’s of course not a fair comparison. Any old bastard sword is not the same as another. Lagom would be instead the idea that ‘this bastard sword already accomplishes the needs’ and even if the other one is slightly better in DPS it’s microbial compared to the needs. That’s lagom. And I’m going to be frank here – It’s not greed that makes me want the bigger minuscule enhances in DPS – it’s wanting to see the greater numbers above the critters head. It’s not greed – once I have mine I don’t mind handing over the next bound to someone else. But I like big numbers and there won’t ever be a time when I don’t.

But lagom also tells me that the journey there might not be worth the trouble. That running some content a gazillion times for that perfect thing just isn’t worth it. Because for the minuscule difference and the amount of time doing it, I’m better off letting the off chance provide it for me, then to actively pursue it. Because, lagom – tells me that what I have is doing the job.

So there you have it; lagom is not the driving force behind my loot hording. I love it. No, me sharing the wealth has to do with the reality that I probably don’t need it. Lagom is definitely the motivator behind whether I truly want to waste my time doing meandering grinding. I don’t like it. And while I can’t instill the idea of lagom into developers in regards to just how mindless some grinding can be, it tempers me enough to look at what satisfy me and my needs. That my fun is not derived from new toys or the pursuit of MOA POWAH. It’s in pursuit of an experience, where everything else happens while doing it.

It’s the one time I find myself – alone. Surrounded by the serenity of the experience. Knowing that this one moment, can never be replaced. Can never be repeated exactly like that and when I walk away from that computer I know that I will remember it fondly. It might be an item. It might be the pursuit of an item. It might be the incidental pulling of an item while doing something else. In fact it might be nothing more then doing an almost impossibly perfect thing that you couldn’t repeat in a million years and means absolutely nothing in the big scheme of things, but you know it. I know it. And everything becomes subordinate to that one thing.

Lagom – all the other things in the self limited balance in my mind – in pursuit of that one thing I don’t know what it is yet. The experience or feeling. That emotional response of contentment. It’s out there. And it means so much more than any one thing can ever provide. That’s why I like, embrace and enjoy the idea of lagom. It allows me to look beyond the toys and the sharp sticks. For that one thing your or I will never know what it is until just like the word Lagom, means something absolutely perfectly balanced in your and my mind.

If if you never get it, if you don’t understand it – don’t worry. You don’t have to. Keep on trucking; do the thing you understand and strive for, but never ever give up that one moment. Because you might not know it until you have it and once you do, it’ll be the best thing that ever happened to you. Just as in real life, gaming provides you with those moments too.

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