Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

Alternative Reality vs. Actual Reality

All my life I've been a gamer. From that fateful day when my young toddler self happened upon my cousin David playing Conan the Barbarian on his Apple IIE, I was hooked. It was only a matter of time before we got an Atari, then a Nintendo, before long I was staying up until all hours of the night conquering the world on Civilization, or saving it in countless Role Playing Games. My brothers and I would also play dice and miniature games like D&D, Heroes Unlimited, Warhammer, Paranoia, Ninja Turtles, or whatever imaginary world we could invented with a couple sticks or squirt guns in our back yard or at the tree fort by the local spring.

And yet, despite all this passive and active interaction with imaginary worlds, my family ensured that I was very grounded in this one. We went camping every month, lighting fires and climbing cliffs, exploring caves and mines and navigating rivers and waterfalls. Sports were also important, with each season bringing a new chance to test myself against my peers. Soccer, swimming, football, baseball, basketball, and martial arts, I was taught since I could run that if someone runs next to you it can be a competition, or that if a group of your friends band together you're a team. I constantly explored my personal physical limits as well as this world's natural limits.

As I grew older, I became more and more schizophrenic in my exploration of this world and imaginary ones. By day I was an eagle scout, a science fair champion, a spelling bee finalist, a national merit scholar, but by night I was battling my buddies at racing or fighting games, or questing for hours and hours to beat the next world-devouring RPG boss. I got less and less involved in physical activity as school and my gaming obsession took over. By college, without required physical fitness cla**** or teams, I had almost completely replaced my childhood physical outlet of sports with video games.

When I graduated I had a choice between testing video games (for no money) for Activision, working on toy development and promotions for Mattel, or being a junior executive at multinational food distributor. I still don't know why, but I decided on the least "fun" job with the food distributor. I spent the next three years making them millions of dollars doing every job they had from working in the warehouses in Compton to top-level sales calls in Hawaii, Las Vegas, and Central Asia.

All during that time, I was playing video games in my off hours. I got pretty out of shape, and though I was making lots of money and traveling I wasn't fulfilled. It was at the end of 2004 after the Asian Tsunami crisis that I decided to stop using my spare time on self-gratifying video games and instead try to help people.

That decision changed my life. Within a few months I was in Thailand helping rebuild and learning martial arts. Before I knew it I was traveling across Europe practicing staff moves and exploring new cultures, and then learning about sustainable redevelopment and community organizing in Mississippi and Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.


Whereas before my idea of a wild time was drinking a wh*** bunch at the bar a few blocks from my house, now I was going to full moon parties with disaster volunteers in Thailand, spinning fire on huge stages in front of thousands of onlookers at Burning Man, getting sprayed with beads and confetti at Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Biloxi and huge water fights for Carnival in Peru and New Years in Thailand.

Somehow, along the way, the life that I'd been imagining all those years playing video games became real.


Instead of leveling up some fictional character in skills and attributes, I was exchanging tricks with world class martial artists and object manipulators. Instead of trying to save a video game designer's idea of an ancient or future world, I was learning about how to practically save this one for future generations. Its gotten to the point where I get invited to teach workshops on martial arts at international festivals of fire dancers, creating grants to collaborate with state and city governments on Strategic Urban Greening, or get flown off to Peru to help produce doc**entaries and reality TV shows about ancient healing techniques and innovative modern social enterprises.

Which leads me to the point of this blog. How am I supposed to find time to participate in an Alternate Reality Game when those last three things are all going on at the exact same time. By the end of this month Growcology will be submitting a half a million dollar Urban Greening proposal with dozens of local partners, even though on the 21st of April my partner and I are flying to Peru for 2 weeks to network with Tierra de los Ninos and create a doc**entary on how plants and plant medicine heal individuals and society. Then the weekend we get back from South America I was going to drive straight up to Santa Cruz for Fire Drums to teach a workshop on contact staff manipulation and integrating custom animal martial art styles for dancing and performing. Oh, and sometime before June 1st I have to take my real estate license exam and create a Global Gratitude Garden seed and techniques database and community gardening effort.

How the heck am I supposed to submit Urgent Evoke evidence while all this is going on? Should I ignore the ARG and focus on the Real Life Responsibilities...?

Views: 15

Comment by David B Griffith on April 8, 2010 at 8:05am
Dude, I'm no guru on a mountain, or some truly enlightened saint, but if you are doing something that is in reality making a difference put forth all the time and effort you can. I am currently in college, secluded in the area of Eastern Kentucky. The extent of my ability to affect things is limited especially with the area I am in. This Game is basically a mental exercise for me to prepare for what I will possibly do after college.

You should be in the mentor role not the player. There's a little button to the side if you haven't looked at it.

But just to let you know you have impressed one random guy with your feats. That's a spark and that's all you really need to do in this game. Help push along forward thinking. It won't take nearly as long and you'll be making a difference in this virtual world as well as a difference in the real. If you want that cert from the world bank (which is one of the main reasons I am doing this) just do one mission in each of the upcoming episodes.
Comment by Nicholas Nagao on April 8, 2010 at 12:26pm
Awesome post Nick! David, please check out Nick's other blogs, he's one of the leaders on the site and is the person that helped me the most when I got to the site to understand the value of collaboration, and how to help others learn as well. He's truly a model for Evoke and the game of life in my opinion. I'm glad he's here as a player to help lead also...I think we should all be players, even the mentors.
Comment by Patricio Buenrostro-Gilhuys on April 12, 2010 at 12:37am
" By the end of this month Growcology will be submitting a half a million dollar Urban Greening proposal with dozens of local partners, even though on the 21st of April my partner and I are flying to Peru for 2 weeks to network with Tierra de los Ninos and create a doc**entary on how plants and plant medicine heal individuals and society." NICE!!! I think we will all help in each other projects. If I could ask 100 people to join a project I would ask to join your project: To the first 100 : Join this projects http://www.urgentevoke.com/profiles/blogs/global-gratitude-gardens and http://www.urgentevoke.com/profiles/blogs/first-steps-to-create-a and http://www.urgentevoke.com/profiles/blogs/evokation-seed-the-outline and http://www.urgentevoke.com/profiles/blogs/next-step-community-urban-1 I am trying to push your project as hard as mines. At the end they are OUR projects. If Real Life Responsibilities are overwhelming for you know WE should all back up Nick and push his project of Gratitude Gardens with ALL our passion!!!
Comment by Ethan Gray on April 15, 2010 at 1:08pm
Very good =] thanks man
Comment by John D. Boyden on May 1, 2010 at 1:04pm
Great post nick! (tongue in cheek>>>) The answer is obvious, buddy. You have nothing going on in the real world, alternative rality is your only choice! Sooo settle back in front of your computer, add a couple pounds from junk food, and keep posting!

Now seriously: What wonderful inspiration you offer. Enjoy each moment and each new person you meet! +1 spark
Comment by Sarah O.Connor Panamericana on May 1, 2010 at 1:19pm
Hi Nick, you might wanna take this into account regarding your Gratitude Gardens:
http://www.urgentevoke.com/profiles/blogs/gratitude-gardens-or-corp...

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