Tree of Life

Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) have been the trend through the past 2 decades, with games such as Warcraft, Guild Wars, and Maplestory having had a vast player base. A player assumes the role of a character and takes control of that character’s actions, ranging from killing monsters, buying things, levelling up his/her skills. Being massively multiplayer, one can interact with other players and complete quests together, or simply to chill and have casual banter.

What if we treated life as one super huge MMORPG? With a map as huge as earth, and 7 billion people playing this game, wouldn’t it be the best-ever MMORPG?

This article talks about the comparison of mastery trees/skill trees in games with that of real life, hence the name: Tree of Life.

Tree of life

In the game of life, each person starts off with a mastery tree that is split into 5 branches, Work, Health, Learning, Social, and Spiritual. Work consists of your career, and all requirements leading up to that stage, including education and work experience. Health consists of your physical and mental well-being. These 2 branches form the lower branches of your tree, as they need to be fulfilled before one can focus on the upper branches. Above the career branch lies the learning branch, which consist of personal development, be it in foosball, e-sports, or general knowledge. On the other side of the learning branch lies the social branch, which consists of your relationship with others. This includes one’s emotional quotient, how socially aware a person is, and how deep/broad a person’s circle of friends is. The last branch is the branch that lies in the centre of the tree, the spiritual branch. For the theistic, this means your relationship with the greater power, while for the atheist it would mean the extent of self-actualization you have attained. This follows closely to the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Maslow's hierachy of needs

When we begin the game of life, we start off with time which can be spent on growing our mastery tree. Most of our early lives is spent on maintaining our work and health branches, which includes going to school and eating your meals. Occasionally, you will pick up skills from a co-curricular activity and you will spend time playing with your friends, attaining mastery points in your Learning and Social Branch.

Upon reaching adolescence is when we have the ability to decide which part of our mastery tree we wish to develop, and in what way. Those interested in the sciences might choose a science-oriented education and learn new skills which might be useful to that field (such as programming), while those interested in the arts may pursue an arts-oriented education and adopt skills relevant to that area.

Individuals develop a different part of their tree in a different way, and no 2 trees are the same. However, unlike games where you have a fixed amount of mastery points to dedicate to a certain skill tree, life is slightly different, as the amount of mastery points a person has depends on how effectively one uses his/her time. Each action one takes will contribute to developing his/her mastery tree, but the rate at which the branch depends on the activity itself. For example, spending a day browsing memes and social media might help to develop one’s social and learning branch, but if one were to spend the day travelling with a group of friends, the social and learning branch will be developed at a much faster pace.

Privilege/talent plays a part in how fast one can develop his/her mastery tree. However, as one approaches adulthood, privilege and talent start to weigh less, and eventually a person’s decisions with his/her everyday life will have more impact on his/her mastery tree than anything else.

For those of us fortunate enough to have time after maintaining our work and health branches, it is important that we use what remaining time we have after work to develop our spiritual, learning and social branches with meaningful activities. A person who might be musically inclined might spend thousands of hours honing his musical talent, resulting in a learning branch with a very beautiful musical leaf. Others might choose to invest time into developing different branches at the same time, resulting in a massive tree that has sturdy sub branches.

Eventually, how your tree of life turns out depends on how you use your time. So let’s spend a bit of time determining which skills we wish to develop, and then make an active effort towards developing those skills. Level yourself up and be a better version of who you are, one leaf at a time.

This article was inspired by a lecture on trees for algorithms and data structure. Quite a different context, but trees are trees.

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