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10:40am on Monday, 3rd January, 2022:

How to Be a God


The edits to my book How to Be a God have asymptotically approached the finish line sufficiently closely for me to release it to the world (only about three years later than I hoped I would when I began it). It was further delayed by arcane complaints about the cover by Amazon that took three attempts to get it past their reviewing software.

You can buy a paperback version of it from https://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Be-God-Would-Be-Deities/dp/0955649498/ or download the .pdf for free from https://mud.co.uk/richard/How%20to%20Be%20a%20God.pdf. You can of course do both, although I suspect that I'm the only person likely to try that. Anyone named in the acknowledgements will be receiving a printed copy in due course, which they can weaponise as they see fit.

The book is intended to be pop-sci, but I don't expect it to be popular and the science is more engineering. Still, it does raise some interesting and important questions that someone needs to answer, if not me. Part 3 (chapters 6 and 7) are the bits to skip to if you can't stomach the rather less-than-exciting parts 1 and 2. If the reason you can't stomach those is that you don't like footnotes, parts 3 and 4 aren't going to appeal either.

Here's a description extracted from the prologue, so you can see whether it's worth your having a look or not.

This is a book about philosophy, theology and computer games.

I myself am a computer game designer. In common with all other computer game designers, I am an expert in neither philosophy nor theology. That said, the number of philosophers and theologians who can claim to be experts in computer game design can be counted on the fingers of no hands, too. This lack of intersection isn't perhaps surprising, because what could one group possibly have to say that would be of any interest to the other?

Well, that's what I aim to set out.

The kind of game I specialise in is the virtual world. Also known as Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs for short) (MMOs for shorter), virtual worlds are among the largest and most expensive games yet created. They're basically pocket universes - pocket realities - cut off from the world we live in precisely because their players want to be cut off from the world we live in every once in a while.

The people who design and build virtual worlds are often referred to as the "gods" of those games, and for good reason: MMO designers entirely control the functionality of the realities they construct. That's exactly what makes a god a god: absolute control over a reality. Philosophers and theologians debate in depth the nature of the reality in which we live, but they've never had cause to design and implement a reality themselves. MMO designers have. They can claim actual experience of being gods, and of making those decisions that only gods typically have to make. This puts them in a position to help answer some of the questions that have been bothering students of Metaphysics since forever - and to bother them further with questions that they haven't yet considered. This is largely what I attempt to do in this book.

The title of this book is How to Be a God. It's not How to Become a God, because in time anyone who wants to be a god (of a virtual world) will be able to become one. Neither is it How to be a God, with an uncapitalised be, because that would emphasise power over responsibility. It's How to Be a God, because it concerns how people should behave once they become gods (regardless of whether or not they want to become gods - this isn't a power fantasy).

As for what "should" means there, well that's for you to decide. I'm no demagogue: as I said, I know how to design realities, and I know some of what does and doesn't work with them, but I'd have to be even more arrogant than I am already to suppose that how I think things "should" be is indeed how they should be. That's a decision for the bulk of humanity to make; all I can do is point out that humanity does need to make it.

So yes, that means it's a decision for you.

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