On the Ludological Decisions of an Oligarch

I’ve been trying to figure out what it is I find concerning about Elon Musk, but I think it’s this: he plays life like a game.

The people I know in real life who play it like that are insufferable, but Musk has the money to force other people to play it too.

Life isn’t a game.

I used to be a fan of his; largely because of SpaceX, which I’m still partial to. But he plays SpaceX like a game: rather than seeking excellence or science, he seems to seek spectacle in space; something NASA and ULA don’t do as much.

I used to want a Tesla, but he’s been playing that company like a game, too; all the work from home shenanigans, all the insistence on things being done his way, his attempt to rewrite the history of the company to get his name listed as founder.

The Boring Company is a game. The Hyperloop is a vaporware game that really only exists in concept so he can sell more Teslas. OpenAI doesn’t have much to do with Musk anymore, but it’s still kind of run like a game.

His family is a game, his sexual assault accusations are a game, his political affiliation is a game, the Ukraine-Russia war is a game. He makes his moves, he chuckles and giggles, he makes a pun, he posts a meme, and he goes on to his next move in the game.

Now he’s bought Twitter as a game, and I’m expecting him to run it as a game. Could this be when he finally gets serious and actually treats something with the gravity it deserves? Sure. But I’m not holding my breath.

Having fun with things, being whimsical, nothing wrong with any of that. But there’s a difference between that and treating other people’s lives (and the big forces that move people’s lives) as if they have no stakes that matter.

Because they don’t, to him. He has enough money to make ludological decisions about the lives of other people, while remaining insulated from their consequences himself. Every rich person does. But he has taken the additional step of assuming there ARE no consequences.

It feels like the reign of a clown king, holding unchecked power and facing no repercussions for his actions.

It feels like there should be a resistance.

I don’t much care who runs Twitter. But what I do care about is that people are cared for, that the helpless are helped, and that the voiceless have voice. That people are treated with dignity and worth.

And I don’t think you can gamify that.

AIPCs: Generating RPG Player Characters with AI

Hey! Let’s make some RPG player characters with AI!

Let’s start with the face. Stable Diffusion (which you can use for free here) makes some excellent faces. In the game I’m playing right now, my character just ran across a teenage girl who turned out to be more powerful than she appeared; so the prompt I’m using for this experiment is:

“teenage female human sorcerer smiling, fantasy art”

Those last two words are crucial for the vibe I want. Stable Diffusion came up with a couple of options (you can click any of the images in this post to get a bigger version):

(From left to right: a bit too old for the character, one too many limbs, beautiful but the wrong type of magic, too much…eye (?!?), and do they even have fluoride in this setting?)

But I really like this one:

The face is great. Her scarf is a little weird, I think it’s odd how it’s not sure whether she’s got flowing hair or a hood on her right side, and I guess…is that a book light on her magic spellbook?

But it’s a great start, and if all goes well, those little weirdnesses will be less visible because I’m going to enlarge it. Stable Diffusion doesn’t do outpainting yet, at least not in the demo environment I’m using, but DALL-E 2 does. I’m going to enlarge the canvas in Paint.NET, and upload it for some outpainting. Here’s the results from the first iteration:

I love all of these, especially how they all have a slightly unique take. I’m going to continue working with the first one; her hand is a literal ham, but that background is cool. I especially like the sparkling flames flying around her. Let’s try turning this from a medium shot into a medium full. Enlarge the canvas, reupload, erase the ham so it generates a new hand there, and here’s the second iteration:

Ahh! How did I not notice in the previous shot—her upper arms are WAY too long!  Still, DALL-E 2’s work on her clothes in each iteration is really unique. The sparklies are awesome, as expected, and so is the halo around her head.

(Incidentally, at one point I screwed up the outpainting tool and ended up creating four new images in Dall-E with the same prompt. The results were…well, they were indeed interesting. For some reason, DALL-E 2 has trouble with the “fantasy art” genre.)

But back to our sorceress; we have to do something about those arms. My second favorite from the first iteration is #2, so let’s make a second iteration from that image:

NOW we’re talking. The first one is a bit too Mulan for what we’re going for, and the fourth one seems like the artist phoned it in on for the bottom half. But numbers 2 and 3 are AWESOME. Meet Helena Morrigan, human elementalist wizard:

Maybe I’ll even stat up a PF2e character sheet for her; but either way, that was fun. I’m gonna do that again.