I’ve been working on world building and establishing character baselines for a story idea that has been slowly consuming every errant moment I can spare from real life. This has had me thinking about character flaws, and that always relates to how real people act and cope with life. The worst of which many of us tend to sum up as games and drama. But what are games and drama, and how do they come about in human behavior?
Games can be fun, challenging exercises. When we are young they are designed to teach us how to count, spell, problem solve, cooperate, compete, and more. Many of life’s lessons can be taught through one game or another. But what are the games people play? According to that Joe South song it is people “never saying what they mean and never meaning what they say.”
But I don’t think it’s necessarily being disingenuous. Games are often the precursor to establishing a relationship.
Flirting. Flirting is a game. It is meant to hint at our interest in one another without really being vulnerable. If the other person doesn’t pick up our hints then we assume they aren’t interested. It is the slightly ambiguous nature of flirting that makes it great for protecting one’s true feelings from open ridicule, but also what makes it difficult to truly make a connection.
Drama is the excitement of a new relationship as it unfolds. Drama is also the ups and downs that we experience together or apart due to outside forces. However, some times people manufacture drama to the point of dysfunction–tallying up every hurt, collecting every error, until every relationship is a collage of every wrong done.
Things become less about what is really going on, and more about what has been. There may be a need for excitement for fear that contentment is a sign of stagnation and disconnection, as if not being in a constant state of blissful passion means we have fallen out of love. The fight and make up cycle is one of drama.
Instead of talking openly about our feelings and listening attentively to those shared with us we test one another. If one item from the grocery list is forgotten it becomes a point of contention proving that we are not valued by the other person. We start forming our thoughts with “If he/she really loved me then…”
Games and drama become the instruments of conflict.
Because we want to protect our hearts…
Because we fear the pain that comes with being vulnerable…
Because we want the answer without having to ask the question…
Not everyone can get past the games and drama. Not every character evolves. Some degenerate. Some seem to grow then regress.
These are the thoughts consuming me at present.
P.S. Here’s a cover of Games People Play by Lissie that I also really like.