RPG games

When i first started out playing RPG games, one of my favorite parts was to create the new character that i was about to play as. After choosing the name and the gender, which are interesting choices, the most important and crucial part of the character creation was to choose the profession or, as the RPG genre puts it, the class. The importance of choosing the right class cannot be understated. It generally shapes the way how you will play the game. If you choose a warrior type class, be it fighter, barbarian or the knight, you generally bash through each and every monster, looking for the loot. A wizard type class will have you casting spells and using your intellect to solve puzzles at every turn. My favorite was the sneaky type, the rogue or, politically incorrect use of term here, the thief. My character has to sneak around, looking for clues and hints on how to defeat the big boss and strike at his weakness in some devious ways. The best scenario involves charming through his harlem and stabbing him at the back while he is casting his masterplan spell to destroy the world.

As I continue on my array of RPG games, (my all time favourite is still the Quest for Glory series), there comes little changes and complexities along the way. The RPG genre begins to introduce more varieties of classes. From the simple trinity of Fighter, Wizard and Rogue, classes like Paladins, Necromancers, Ninja, Archers and Monk were developed and added to the array of choices. It became a fun thing just to replay a game with different types of character just to find out what would have happened if my Monk had no ability to pick the lock to the evil vampire’s lair like my Rogue and I have to meditate my way through. Then the multi-class system kicked in where a character can be a Fighter and a Mage at the same time. Imagine a two-handed sword wielding big-muscled guy starts throwing fireballs. The power of it all!!! Muhahaha!!! Thankfully, most games generally balance it out by making such characters Jack of all trades, Masters of none. So, instead of the big muscled guy, you probably have a lithe sword swinging fellow with some tricks up his sleeves.

Then came another turn of change. RPG games with no class!!! *gasps* Instead, the character you play can advance up his skills anyway you like. Need more muscles? Increase his strength at the next levelling up. Too stupid to solve a puzzle? Develop his intelligence at the next training ability. Too slow to catch arrows? Learn the tricks of dexerity at the master’s cave. Suddenly, there is no direction, no guides and no lines, just scenarios to solve and your decision on how to develop your character not only to solve immediate problems but to be more well rounded to tackle future problems as well… Doesn’t this sound familiar?

When Singapore first started out, the plan was simple. Gain economic wealth, improve housing and education level, ensure internal and external security and connect ourselves to the biggest gorilla out there. Much like Maslow’s hierachy of needs, the bottom layers are simple and direct, but once they are fulfilled the higher ecelon needs more than a little definition. Singapore has matured to a stage where the lines are blurred and definitions of the past no longer works. Narratives of the past have a universal appeal because they are urgent and necessary needs of everyone’s life. Thus, the nation was supportive and leadership was perceived as strong and productive. Now, ask what is the next step in Singapore’s future of ten persons on the street, you will get twenty answers.

Today’s blog is not about answers. In fact, I hope my blog is never about answers but hopefully trigger questions. However, I do have one suggestion to the newer generation of Singaporeans. As the conversation on the next big step occurs, let us never forget that the current status of our country is based on the hard work of our parents and our parent’s parents. Things that we take for granted like wifi, mobile phones, the Internet and even the TV were not guaranteed in their days. Just as Maslow’s hierachy rests on the simpler needs, we also must give thanks for those who provided the simpler needs.


Fox or Hedgehog

In an article brought to my attention by a good friend, Mr Bilahari Kausikan talks about the new era we are living in. As an Arts student myself, I fully agree with him that rarely do the subject we learn in school have direct application to what we do in life. Hey, I’m a military officer, philosophy and political science?

Anyway, even so, what we learn and what we read in our formative years plays an important part in shaping our mental models and the way we think. Given that, I would much prefer to be a generalist and explore many aspects of life (fox) than be a hedgehog, living in just one area of expertise and hope that it remains valid…

India and China, Mahan vs Mackinder Points of View

Another good article from the Diplomat on the India China geopolitical situation, Mr Abhijit Singh summarises Mahan’s thoughts very clearly as highlighted by Mr Zorawar Daulet Singh’s article in Journal of Defence Studies available here.

At the end of the day, while Mahan’s theory on sea power seems archaic in the age of computer warfare and longer landbased missile reaches, the dominance of sea power still hold sway as the trade routes of the world are still 90% at sea. Without going over the line into hostilities, both sea power and land forces are tools by which the nation can utilize to make its point across. These are simply ways the nation’s leaders signal intentions to each other as well as to their own domestic populace. Clausewitz? Maybe. Perhaps a little of SunZi as well, as each leader tread the line carefully, knowing full well that true victory is gained without going to war…

A twist of rabbit and turtle story

This is a story about the Rabbit and the Turtle and their famous Race. I rewrote the story based on a video I saw on the Internet for my son’s school project which he never used…


Narrator 1 : One day, Rabbit and Turtle decided to have a race to finally decide who is the better runner.

Rabbit and Turtle walks in from the left and starts to stretch themselves, getting ready for the run.

Narrator 2 : Once they have decided on the finishing point, they counted down and off they went!!!

Both Rabbit and Turtle runs on the spot but Rabbit ahead of Turtle.

Narrator 2 : Rabbit dashes ahead of Turtle and was leading wayyy ahead of the race. After a while, seeing how far he is ahead, Rabbit decides to take a rest before finishing the race.

Rabbit sits down and takes a nap.

Narrator 1 : Without realising, Rabbit fell asleep while Turtle slowly but surely overtook the sleeping Rabbit and won the race.

Turtle sneaks pass the sleeping Rabbit and reaches the finishing line, cheering away…

Narrator 2 : When Rabbit woke up, he realised that he lost the run and was very upset with himself

Rabbit wakes up and was very upset…

Narrator 2 : The lesson from this race is Slow and Steady is better than Fast and Inconsistent. Rabbit though about the race and decided to challenge Turtle to a race again.

Rabbit and Turtle walks in from the left again and starts to stretch themselves in one corner of the room, getting ready for the run.

Narrator 1 : This time, when the race started, Rabbit did not stop until he reaches ALL the way to the finishing line, completing the race wayy ahead of the Turtle

Rabbit and Turtle runs off, but Rabbit reaches the right side first and started cheering.

Narrator 1 : Turtle lost the race and it was his turn to be very upset. The lesson from this race is Slow and Steady is good but to be Fast and Steady is better.

Narrator 2 : Turtle decided to challenge Rabbit again, this time changing the road of the race. Rabbit agreed, thinking that he can beat Turtle as long as he is consistent.

Rabbit and Turtle walks in from the left again and starts to stretch themselves in one corner of the room, getting ready for the run.

Narrator 1 : Just like the last time, once the race began, Rabbit dashed off like a speeding bullet, leading all the way ahead of the race.

Rabbit dashes off but stops in the middle of the room

Narrator 1 : However, he soon reaches a river and was unable to cross it as he does not know how to swim. Soon Turtle caught up with Rabbit at the river and swam across the river to reach the finishing line at the other side.

Turtle reaches the middle of the room, swims across the river and wins, cheering at the other side.

Narrator 1 : The lesson from this race is Know your strength and choose the competition according to your strength.

Narrator 2 : By this time, Rabbit and Turtle were good friends and both felt that the last race could be done better. So they decided to run the last race again, this time as a team.

Rabbit and Turtle walks in from the left again and starts to stretch themselves in one corner of the room, getting ready for the run.

Narrator 2 : When the race started, Rabbit carried Turtle on his back and started running all the way to the river.

Rabbit holds Turtle’s hands and runs to the middle of the run, stopping at the river.

Narrator 2 : At the river, Rabbit hopped onto Turtle’s back and Turtle carried Rabbit across the river. Both reached the finishing line together, faster than either of them could have done it themselves.

Turtle now holds Rabbits hand and pull him across the river to the other side. Both cheering when they reached the finishing line.

Narrator 1 : The lesson from the last race is It is important to know your strength and to know your team’s strength. Together, a team can do so much more than any person alone.


China and Clausewitz

Referring to the Diplomat’s China’s “Warfare” Strategies and Tactics, Norton talks about understanding China in order to deal with China’s growing military

Chinese leaders generally employ military actions in order to achieve political outcomes with little intent to escalate the conflict militarily. Only if the political outcome is not achieved, may the Chinese leader heighten the military actions. It is, thus, important to read the Chinese intent clearly and, either to meet their demands, negotiate for another solution or refuse to meet the demand entirely.

The message sent out may have different audiences in mind as well, either domestic, international or specific countries in mind. These messages must also be seen through China’s bureaucractic lens, where things may even get muddled up with the different layers of interpretation.

Nevertheless, as per the movie on the Cuba Crisis, military actions are simply a way of how the Chinese Leadership communicates with the outside world. This fits in nicely with Clausewitz’s famous line that, “War is merely an extension of policy”.

Thus, to read the Chinese mind behind the military action, is to read that there is another meaning behind the actions…

South Korea’s Education Culture

Sometimes, when I see how my sons have to study to be moderately successfully in Singapore, I am quite worried for their future. The amount of work they have to go through and at such a young age, is probably something I won’t be able to handle when I was at their age. Then I read about South Korea’s education system. Kim, in the Diplomat, writes about the Cram School system, or the hagwon.

Frankly, the school after school system is nightmarish. As the society progresses and increases its social pressure on its younger population, demanding them to crunch more numbers and do more with shorter time, something will give. As Kim points out, they churn out standardized high performers in exams, but what do they really learn?

Singapore also faces such problem. As the Ministry of Education revamps over and over again, the parents of Singapore are not giving them an easy time too. Demanding that the system prepares their children for the future and yet have a holistic education. I can only pray for my sons and hope that they find a true interest in life and devote themselves to it before they get sucked into the race rat…