What if there was a theory that explained the way people are? What if this theory just happened to borrow heavily from a popular video game franchise? Well, if such a theory existed it would probably be called, The Madden Customization Theory, and it would probably blow your mind. I’m not sure if John Madden’s video games were the first to introduce the concept of character customization, but they were certainly one of the earliest and most popular. It is possible that some of you don’t know what I am talking about. You’ve never played a video game, or you’ve never had the experience of customizing a virtual character. Do not fret, explanations are coming.
We don’t have any control over when we’re born, who we’re born from, or even if we’re born at all. It’s really a sobering truth if you give it the thought time it merits. There is an infinity that came before you, and one way or another there is an infinity after you. If that’s not humbling enough, some really smart people believe that you don’t even have free will in this brief life. Either your circumstances, or genes, or God determine your every choice from cradle to grave. Wow, that’s a lofty concept, and I’m willing to bet humanity was never meant to fully understand it. Regardless, it is important to recognize these philosophical and religious concepts of time, will and eternity if we are going to have a foundation for this incredible theory.
In the above image you see numbers and categories. The numbers, or points, range from 0 to 100, with 100 representing the maximum skill in that particular category. Aaron Rodgers is a real football player, so his statistics have been set by the programmers of the game. The custom character screen is similar, except that you can choose how to disperse the points. So if I wanted a player to be fast, I could put most of the points in the category of speed. The catch is that you’re only given so many points to spread around. You have to decide what kind of player you want him to be. Sacrifices must be made. Priorities must be set.
What if we had the ability to somehow determine the kind of people we would be, before we were even born? It would only be fair that each of us would have the same number of “points” to disperse as we deemed appropriate. So, if I wanted to be book smart I could put points towards that, and might have to sacrifice some athletic ability. Or, if a woman wanted to be more attractive she could overload her points in the beauty column and sacrifice common sense. It is a rare person who excels in most categories. For many of us, there are clear strengths and weaknesses, which often appear to be random. The Madden Customization Theory offers an explanation to account for the big guy without a brain and the scrawny guy with an I.Q. of 150. We all had the same number of points, but we all have different priorities.
The Madden Customization Theory probably wouldn’t stand up to rigorous scrutiny from serious thinkers, but I’m willing to bet it struck a chord with you. It’s appealing to imagine that somewhere in a time long ago we had the power to choose who we would become. Maybe the best aspect of this theory isn’t what it assumes about the past, but what it says about the future. We are largely the result of our priorities. It matters who we want to become. That’s how real characters are created.