Kevin Burk Invites us to Play The Human Game | Episode 330

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Kevin B. Burk is the Headmaster of The Real Astrology Academy and the creator of the Human Game and the Human Game Experience. He has been counseling and coaching as an astrologer since 1998, teaching astrology since 2000, and is the author of more than a dozen books.

The Human Game is a philosophy based on the idea that the Universe is made up of stories. The story is the smallest practical unit of reality. If everything is a story, when you understand how a story works, you can understand anything.

The Human Game Experience is an astrology-based reality role-playing game that can give you creative control over The Story of Your Life. It’s an 8-week online program that helps you experience the potential of the Human Game philosophy with video tutorials, a comprehensive Player’s Handbook, personal coaching, and the support of a growing community of Human Game players around the world.

 

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Full episode transcription (AI Generated)

Rob:
Hey, engagers, and welcome back to the Professor Game podcast. We have Kevin with us today. But Kevin, before we start, we need to know, are you prepared to engage?

Kevin:
I am prepared to engage.

Rob:
Let’s do this. We have today with us Kevin Burke, who is the headmaster of the real Astrology Academy and the creator of the human game and the human game experience. He has been counseling and coaching as an astrologer since 1998, teaching astrology since 2000, and is the author of more than a dozen books. Human game in particular is a philosophy based on the idea that the universe is made up of stories. The story is the smallest practical unit of reality.

Rob:
And if everything is a story, when you understand how a story works, you can understand anything. The human game experiences an astrology based reality role playing game that can give you creative control over the story of your life. So, Kevin, that’s your intro. We’ve said plenty about you, but is there anything that you want to make sure that we mention before we get started with the questions?

Kevin:
I think we’re ready to go. That covers everything.

Rob:
Let’s do it. Let’s do it. So, Kevin, we like to humanize our guests in many ways. And the first one is to understand what does a day with you look like and see how very human all the things that you do are. Even if you are super organized and doing a million things, you’re still human.

Rob:
And we can see part of that in your day. So what does that look like? Kevin, what can we see you doing if we were to meet you in a day like today?

Kevin:
Well, were it not raining in Houston this morning? I have realized, having realized about a year ago, that I am a philosopher, and therefore thinking is actually my job. I get a lot of work done walking around my neighborhood. So I do about a five mile walk around my neighborhood most mornings. And the exercise part of it aside, which is a nice thing, I get so much work done there because moving my physical body just lets me play out.

Kevin:
And I’m talking to myself a bit, sometimes out loud, sometimes not. But I work out all of these concepts. I get so many ideas and so much inspiration on that walk, and it may take weeks before those things actually make it to a piece of paper, but I categorize that as my workday because that’s what gets things. And then I have other things that I do, depending on where it is in the month to pay the bills. I do some graphic design.

Kevin:
I have some production clients with some graphic design stuff that I do. That’s a monthly thing. But generally it’s coming up with the stories, coming up with the ideas, and classifying myself as a writer. I will also say that what most people don’t understand is that a great deal, to the outside observer, a great deal of the process of writing looks like not writing. It looks like playing candy crush for me a lot of the time, but it really is.

Kevin:
I sometimes need to distract myself so that I can encourage those shy little ideas to come out of hiding and I don’t scare them off before I can pounce on them and do something with it. So that’s the most I said, there’s an awful lot of time that seems to be spent doing nothing. That really is letting the ideas kind of process in my subconscious until I.

Rob:
Can do something with them makes sense, actually. It does make a lot of sense, at least to me, Kevin, but.

Kevin:
Oh, good, thank you. Validation on that.

Rob:
Let’s take that and actually go for a story. You talk a lot about stories and I’m sure that makes a lot of sense to you. So let’s go for a story about a time when, especially in this world of creating games, you’ve had some experience in that as well. When things didn’t go your way, that fail moment or first attempt at learning. We want to experience it with you.

Rob:
We want to live that story with you and take away some of the lessons that you learned.

Kevin:
The biggest, and it’s a repeated, repeated fail, is there’s this gap between world building, between mapping out all of the possibilities and all of the rules that make up the game and actually being able to play it. And I enjoy exploring these ideas, but especially when I started discovering, oh, there’s a game in here with the astrology. I started by working out, I guess, in DND terms, I started putting together the dungeon Masters handbook. And so just this incredibly detailed stuff and all of these what the houses mean and how certain things function and how you’re dealing with fuel and the different elemental aspects of fuel and going down these rabbit holes that were fascinating to me and underpinnings of what’s going to make this a functional thing. And then this is all happening while I’m running a training program that became about something else.

Kevin:
So I’m sharing these ideas with the students in my program because they need to get something and they’re getting overwhelmed by it. And I’m realizing, oh, this isn’t practical. This is years away from practical. And it takes so long and realizing there is the difference because yes, I like the idea that there is a rabbit hole down which someone can go and you can be supported in that. But I’m sorry if it takes 6 hours just to understand the basic rules of the game, it’s not going to be a lot of fun to play.

Kevin:
What were the simple little things? Figuring out how to convey the game element of this without requiring two months of training and tutorial because it’s not fun for everybody. And even if it might be fun for you, it’s not where you want to start. And I continue to struggle with that gap as I’m developing this because I was like, oh, there’s all these things that this can do and these new modules that I want to explore. And it’s like, okay, yeah, that’s great, but I can’t really talk about these things yet because people want to know details.

Kevin:
And then I get into the really technical details with the rules and then their guys glaze over and it’s not useful.

Rob:
Amazing. So not diving too much into the rules, at least initially. And how would you approach it differently now that you know this? I know it continues learning, but from the lessons learned in that, how do you approach it differently now that you’ve experienced this?

Kevin:
I don’t share most of what I’m doing. I have learned to appreciate how long the arc is of the development process and to recognize that on a personal level, I want to be able to share my new idea. I don’t want to have an idea and then have to wait two and a half years before I can share it. And so I have a few people that are enough involved in this and know me well enough that I can share random little ideas and they can appreciate, oh, that’s going to be interesting once I figure out where that fits in, in the bigger tapestry of things, because this is the development process of these things. And I know how big the potential is of all of the things that the human game does and can do and will do, and my eagerness to get things out there, the initial launches of various iterations of this, I can’t even call them beta version, they were kind of alpha.

Kevin:
They were like, oh, you’re going to road test this for me because I didn’t know what it was, I didn’t know where it was going. I thought, well, this makes sense to me. So clearly to me, no, there’s a gap in that process. And so that’s what I’ve learned is I’ve got a new set of criteria that something has to meet before I’m willing to put it out there in the world to people that have no idea what I’m talking about. And that was a difficult lesson because there was about a year and a half of this that I’m putting this stuff out there, and people are just.

Kevin:
Some people are kind of getting it and most people aren’t. And it’s like, okay, let me figure out why they’re not getting it because clearly I need that feedback. But it’s frustrating, for sure.

Rob:
So let’s turn this around and actually go for a story of success, something that actually didn’t work. Again, on the first attempt or the nth attempt. It doesn’t matter. We want to be there with you and maybe take a few of the success factors that you would call out of this experience.

Kevin:
When I continue to discover deeper and deeper and deeper levels of what it means that everything is story, I mean, this isn’t. It’s an interesting sort of peripheral idea that, oh, the universe is made up of stories. And it’s from a line from a poem from the 1960s or something. I came across it as a Facebook meme, but I just said, oh, let me build out this thing. And so I realized that because everything is story, because human beings understand the universe in terms of story, that my job was to tell better stories about the stories that I’d been telling, because when I was telling a better story, then people would understand stuff.

Kevin:
And I’ve been working with some of these concepts for more than 20 years. I’ve been working, for example, with the idea of safety needs and validation needs and safety need bank accounts, and validation need bank accounts in terms of relationships and in terms of other things. And it’s a big part of the human game as well. And I realized I needed to really tear that story down because the story that I’d been telling for 20 years and was used to just wasn’t connecting as well. I mean, there were things that it wasn’t landing.

Kevin:
It was an interesting, abstract kind of thing, but people couldn’t use it the way I wanted them to be able to use it. And so rewriting that chunk of the story and really defining, okay, how do safety resources work? Why do we care about this? Filling in some of these gaps and then telling that story to a long term client, somebody that I’ve been working with for. Probably been working with her for 1012 years, maybe longer than that.

Kevin:
She’s been through a whole bunch of different programs. She’s heard the whole safety need thing. She’s worked with it to the best of her ability. And then telling this new story and all of a sudden it made sense. All of a sudden it’s like, oh, now I get it.

Kevin:
Now I understand why safety needs matter. Now this is something that fits in to my. Now I can do something with this. And that was such a revelation, just realizing where I needed to fill in the gaps and for the bigger process of the human game. How do I tell the story that takes you by the hand so that you can step into the story and actually realize this isn’t just something entertaining you’re watching, this is something you can actually live.

Kevin:
But I needed to find the proper trail of breadcrumbs. I needed to be able to assemble something that was a bridge that people could actually cross. And when I finally did that in this one section, that was everything, because this is somebody that has gotten a lot out of working with me over a long period of time, and something that she was kind of understood suddenly snapped into place.

Rob:
Interesting. And talking about process, because that’s the next question we tend to discuss, and it’s related to what you were just discussing. If you were to help somebody build a story like this one, or have that narrative and help them find that thing that actually makes it click, do you have some form of, again, call it process ideation? I don’t know. How would you approach this if somebody was asking you, help me do that thing that you have managed to do yourself?

Kevin:
Well, and this is broadly what the human game is and what the coaching process of the human game is. And it’s about changing the realizing your life is a story, understanding how the different levels of story work, and then getting your priorities straight, because most people view life as a series of problems. And if life is a problem, the question you ask is, how do I fix it? And sometimes we just view life as a series of obstacles. And if you encounter an obstacle, the question you ask is, how do I overcome it?

Kevin:
But if life is a game, the question you ask is, how do I win? And that’s a totally different question, and that’s where things broadly begin. How do you win? What do you win? You win by feeling good.

Kevin:
All you care about is feeling better. I’m playing with. And again, this is one of those things that I don’t generally put out into the wild, because it’s not a cogent enough story. But I’m working on something that I’m currently kind of calling the human algorithm, because I don’t think human beings are that complicated. I think we’ve got about ten lines of source code, and everything else just sort of is based on that I don’t think when you can pare down what motivates us, what do we really care about?

Kevin:
And get rid of all the external plot level details. It’s about feelings. It’s broadly, avoid pain, pursue pleasure. Survive, avoid pain, pursue pleasure. Operationally, I win if I can feel a little better than I do right now and realizing all you care about is feeling better.

Kevin:
So this external goal may or may not do that. The external goal is fun, no reason not to go after that, but that’s not necessarily going to win you a prize of feeling good. And so, so much of what I’m discovering with this and exploring with this is what are the basic parameters of human motivation? Because you get down to what you care about and then sort of how the programming is intended to work and where it goes wrong. And then a lot of this is, I’m kind of thinking in terms of we’re updating stories and changing stories, and these are kind of software patches, because sometimes your code drives you into a little cul de sac and you can’t, I mean, the roomba is hitting the wall and it’s like, okay, we need to reset.

Kevin:
So, yeah, I totally lost what the question was.

Rob:
Yeah, how do you get there? Like finding that story that you were mentioning and maybe how you got there. We got a bit of that. But if you were to try to do it again or help somebody get.

Kevin:
There, well, broadly, the question that we start with is, how do you win? And to get there, I mean, I have a part of the human game experience. One of the tools is something I call the value compass. And the value compass is kind of a flowchart that takes you through all three levels of story. So it starts with the question, what do you want?

Kevin:
Because most people are dealing with an external plot level goal. So what are your goals? What do you think you want? And then the next question is a character level question, which is, why do you want it? Do you want this because you think it’s going to meet your safety needs?

Kevin:
Do you want this because you think it’s going to meet your validation needs? You clear those out, because that’s the happiness problem. And then when you’re done, when the reason you want something has nothing to do with safety, nothing to do with validation, what you’re left with is something you value. And when you figure out what you value, then you can get to the bigger question, how do I win? Because I don’t care about the external goal.

Kevin:
I don’t care about being able to buy a new car. I don’t care about this relationship. I don’t care about that job title. What I really care about is how I think that’s going to make me feel. And broadly, to give it meaning, what do I really value?

Kevin:
How do I align with what I value in terms of that? And so this is how you win. You win by reliably tapping into really good feelings. You win by building a foundation of happiness. So whether or not you achieve a goal in the external world, it doesn’t mess with your happiness.

Kevin:
You can’t lose. So you’re able to play with anything. Because games are only fun if you can’t lose. The stakes have to be low or the game stops being fun. Define how you win is really the question, and it’s a question very few people ask because we don’t think of life as a.

Rob:
Interesting, interesting. I think that there’s a lot of deep thought on that one and plenty of philosophers. Food for thought on that one. No, for sure. There’s a lot of food for thought on that one.

Rob:
Kevin, we have to get to a difficult question for most of our guests, and that question is, what would you say is your favorite game?

Kevin:
My favorite game?

Rob:
Yes, sir.

Kevin:
I’m going to go, and again, it’s not like I’ve spent a lot of time playing it, but I’m really going to go with dungeons and dragons because that’s the model that inspired the human game for me. The idea of this fantasy role playing game, where you’re pretending to be a character and that character has attributes that you develop, and then you’re overcoming these challenges and gaining experience. And it’s a story, and it’s a sort of choose your own adventure kind of thing. And that’s how I live my life with the human game, because I call the human game a reality role playing game because the character you play is the person pictured on your driver’s license. In this game, I’m playing the character of Kevin B.

Kevin:
Burke, and that’s always been the model. And again, I never really played that much of dungeons and dragons, but I loved exploring the idea of the game. And I had all the books, which will be worth a fortune if I kept them, because they were all first editions, because I’m that old. But the idea of that and then realizing it’s because you’re engaging in a story and it’s like, this is how we can live our lives, but you can, there’s no reason you can’t become the hero of your own story. There’s no reason you can’t take this model of what are my character attributes?

Kevin:
What can I do with these particular scores? How can I raise these? But you can. In terms of favorite game, in terms of what probably has done more to influence my philosophy and my life, dungeons.

Rob:
And dragons makes a lot of sense. Thank you for that answer. And in this creating stories and storytelling world and all that stuff related to it, what would you say is your superpower, that thing that you do at least better than most other people?

Kevin:
I can find the quibble. This is a really advanced human game skill, but it’s what I find the most fun about it. It’s where you challenge the fact that, okay, well, reality is a lie. I’m accepting that there’s a whole lot of stuff that I know is objectively a lie, but that doesn’t. Reality is subjective.

Kevin:
It doesn’t need to be true to exist. I mean, any kind of the illusion of separation, the idea that you and I are separate people, is a lie, because there’s no such thing as infinity plus one, if there is infinity, just the spiritual math on that is you can’t add, subtract, divide, or multiply it. So everything must be all. And that’s clearly not my reality. I feel like I am separate from.

Kevin:
And so, okay, well, that’s not true, but it’s real. So for the time being, I can quibble, I can leverage the lie. I can say, well, if this is the case, then I’m going to do x, y, and z, and then the ball is, as it were, in the universe’s court. The universe can either let me get away with that or disprove the lie. So I talk about this sort of as in the game of three card monty.

Kevin:
Are you familiar with that little street level con game? Basically, you’ve got a huckster on the street, and you’re betting, you got three cards, and it’s find the lady. You’re looking for the queen, and they’re shuffling the cards, and you bet where you think the queen is. And it’s a scam game. But my philosophy with this is you can’t cheat a rigged game.

Kevin:
So you can play three card monte, ostensibly by the rules, where you put money on us. I think that card’s the queen and it’s not, and you lose, or you can go, well, I’m sure this card isn’t the queen. And turn it over. And it’s not. And I’m pretty sure this card also isn’t the queen.

Kevin:
So this last card must be the queen.

Rob:
Got you all right.

Kevin:
And you can do this with so much. And that is absolutely my superpower because I love finding that in almost any situation. Where’s the fine print? Where’s the loophole? How can I live by the letter of the law and really mess with the spirit of it?

Kevin:
Because that makes for a better story. Because that’s a lot of fun. Because that’s how I can win without.

Rob:
Know playing a rigged amazing, amazing sounds like an interesting and fun superpower for sure. Kevin, we’re running out of time. So before we take off, is there any place where we can find out more about you, where we can find you in the world of the Internet before we say it’s game over?

Kevin:
Yes. If you go to playthehumangame.com, that’s the main page that’s got information about the human game experience. It’s got a little video that talks about the happiness problem. You can register for the human game experience or register to know when the next session of that is open. You can register for the free human game introduction class, which is broadly my version of a blog, which is very infrequent.

Kevin:
But there’s about twelve videos right now, different little concepts about human game and story and how you can have fun with this and how you can play with it. So it’s an easy way to sort of become familiar with things and then there’s options to dive down the rabbit hole a little bit more if you decide, ooh, I want to play.

Rob:
Amazing. Thank you very much for that. Kevin, thank you for being today with us, sharing your knowledge, especially your experiences as well. However, as you know, and the engagers know as well, at least for now, and for today, it is time to say that it’s game over. Engagers, thank you for listening to the Professor Game podcast and I’d like to know if you have any questions to ask other guests in the future.

Rob:
If you do, please go to professorgame.com question and ask that question. If and once selected, it’ll come up in a future episode and you will get your answer live by one of our guests. And remember, before you go into your next mission, please remember to subscribe or follow whatever that looks like in your favorite podcast app the way you are listening to us right now. Click on that, it’s completely for free, and listen to the next episode of Professor Game. See you there.

End of transcription

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