This thought dawned upon me while I was playing a game called Sunless Sea. A terribly depressing game about how life would’ve been if London became a subterranean sea called “Fallen London” with weirdo lingo like “The Unterzee” “Zee Monsters”, scary-looking sea monsters and things that look like Cthulhu came and made a quick visit with the ladies, unidentified malevolent gods, cryptic messages, suspicious townsfolk and of course, talking rodents.
Now scary monsters in a setting where the sun literally doesn’t shine at any time of the day is fine and all but that’s not what we’re talking about here.
At some point while I braved the dark and terrible seas I came across a sea port far off north where it’s awful cold and rare it is that you’d find another ship there. Now every port I’ve come across is unique. I’ve been in a port where you literally have to wear a mask just so you could enter town and you have to “play a part” or something. I saw a port right next to a gigantic unidentified gyroscope-like puzzle filled with rings spinning so fast and crazy that you could practically turn a whale into finger-sized sashimi. Hell, I’ve seen a port filled with those rodents I mentioned earlier, fighting amongst one another for a kingdom.
Meet Guinea Page of Pigmote Isle.
But in all the ports that I could trade supplies with, this one in particular was special. Why? Because they don’t use Echos (what passes off as currency in there), they use stories. Two stories about the sea, for one crate of supply.
Sounds simple enough right? Two stories doesn’t sound like much, but I don’t brave the seas as often as you think so I don’t get the “x1 Stories of the unterzee” as a positive check on my character. I play by the book, I stick to the walls, I play it safe. I see a monster I’ve never seen before? I run as fast as my engines can take me. This game doesn’t joke around when it comes to death, and you can die in a lot of ways here.
Stories. Interesting stories. They don’t seem like much when I first “obtained” one in the game, but it turns out they’re quite a valuable resource here. Not just here though, as I eventually realized, but also in real life.
A conversation will run dry if you keep talking about the same things over and over again, until people get bored with you. That’s because your resource for stories is low. Unlike the game though, it’s easy to make or look for a story, and to make yourself interesting. A story that will interest a person will make the person have an interest in you. If you tell it well enough that is.
It’s also surprisingly easy if you keep track of what stories you’ve told to other people already. All you need to do is just rewind your life a couple of days, weeks, months, years or if you’re old enough, decades. Look back at the interesting things you’ve experienced in life, the things that light up when you think of a particular year, era, a phase through your life, anything. You will definitely remember because you can’t really forget.
My very first contact with video games was when I was barely young enough to put together sentences, but I still remember that room very vividly, watching one of those fat monitors for computers back when monitors were still fat, in that strange-looking yellow table with the lights out. My brother left the computer on, and I heard something strange with the door open. I heard the opening song for Chrono Trigger, then I saw the epic intro for it. The colors, the fighting, the artwork, the flying airship, the other flying airship. I remember I watched that thing so many times until my brother came and showed me how the game works, and I remembered so vividly that I couldn’t understand shit.
…and boy did I panic when I somehow got to the end boss with just Crono.
Of course you also gotta understand that what may pass off as interesting to you might not be interesting to the person you’re telling the story to. When took a gooood look at my character to see if she gots any good stories about “zee unterzee”, she actually got quite a few, on things unrelated to the unterzee. The shop specifically asked for stories about the unterzee, and I can’t just tell him a story he doesn’t want to hear because that’s not how the game works.
Before you tell a story, know your audience. You can’t really spin a tale about humorous racism to a sensitive crowd like feminists or SJWs, you know they’ll flip their shit and call you out on it the moment they got shit on you. You also can’t tell your grandma about how you banged this hot chick the other day, unless you know she’s the cool grandma. Yeah, actually it’s still inappropriate. Why the hell would your grandma need to know shit like that?
So a life tip. Make yourself interesting, by stockpiling on them stories. Feel free to spin a tale with me though, I could use some stories to tell other people.