LEV: The Game is a work in progress, whose potential to spread the message of indefinite life extension to the general public encourages me greatly. Developed by a team from Belgium – consisting of Anthony Lamot, Mathieu Hinderyckx, and Maxime Devos – this Android mobile game is currently in its Alpha phase. The creators have initiated an Indiegogo fundraiser to raise 6000 Euros (approximately 8100 US dollars at July 2014 exchange rates) in order to greatly expand the game and add its most complex and engaging elements. You can watch their video introduction to the game and the fundraiser here.
The premise of LEV: The Game is the same as the aim of those of us who wish to extend our lives without end. One’s character is challenged with living for as long as possible and attaining longevity escape velocity by reversing the damage of senescence at a faster rate than it accumulates. Every year in the game, the character receives an allotment of energy points with which to purchase power-ups, such as stem-cell therapies, applications of nano-medicine, cybernetic enhancements, or simple increments of diet and exercise. Each power-up can either increase the remaining expected lifespan, increase the rate at which energy points accumulate (called “productivity” in the game), or reduce the character’s rate of bodily decay. The player needs to achieve a delicate balancing of these power-ups to avoid expiring before he/she accumulates enough energy points to purchase the next life-extending advance.
Becoming an Alpha tester of LEV: The Game is absolutely free, and I was pleased to be able to participate in mid-July 2014. After eight attempts, I succeeded in getting a character to reach the age of 200, which is the game’s current victory condition. If the developers can raise their desired funds, they anticipate extending the gameplay to enable one’s character to reach the age of 1000.
To become an Alpha tester, you will need to join the LEV: The Game (Alpha) Google Group, using a Google account that is also linked to a mobile phone or tablet that runs the Android operating system. After you join, you can download the game from the Google Play store here. Remember to click the “Become a Tester” button to enable the download to work. When testing the game in this early stage, make sure you un-pause it first using the speed settings in the top-left-hand portion of the screen, before navigating to any of the other available windows.
Why LEV: The Game is Immensely Important
Our ability to achieve indefinite life extension personally will depend on the amount of resources and support from the general public invested in the overcoming of age-related bodily damage. Most people, unfortunately, continue to either be resigned to the inevitability of death, or to argue against the desirability of indefinite longevity due to extremely basic misconceptions. Even apart from the absurdly false boredom argument, overpopulation argument, and “playing God” argument, there is a more basic fallacy – the Tithonus error, which posits that becoming chronologically older necessarily means becoming biologically more decrepit. Yet the only way indefinite longevity could be achieved would be for people to remain biologically young, so that their susceptibility to deadly diseases does not increase beyond that of people in their twenties today. How could longevity advocates get the general public to understand this? Convincing people through arguments alone may often fail, simply because the Dragon-Tyrant of death is so ubiquitous and so overwhelming that many people will grasp at any straw, no matter how flimsy, to avoid being confronted with the grave injustice of their current predicament.
But a game gives a fresh, different, and engaging way to see and experience what indefinite longevity would truly entail. Anyone playing LEV: The Game would quickly see that becoming increasingly frail is no way to increase life expectancy. Your character will die if he/she experiences sufficient biological decay. You will be able to see a graph of the character’s remaining life expectancy and the rate at which decay is expected to proceed during the years they have left. If you apply the most effective combinations of power-ups, you will also see the life-expectancy curve shift upward – sometimes slightly, at other times by massive jumps. The latter situation reflects what can happen once humans begin to undergo periodic rejuvenation therapies to remove age-related damage, as posited in Dr. Aubrey de Grey’s SENS approach.
Furthermore, LEV: The Game encourages its players to engage in paradigm-shifting thinking about their own future trajectories. Instead of planning for gradual debilitation and eventual death, as most people do today when projecting their careers, retirements, finances, and family lives, a strikingly different mindset can take hold – the quest for perpetual maintenance and a return to youthfulness that may be possible at any chronological age, with sufficient technological advances and vigilance regarding one’s health. I admire the integration in LEV: The Game of biomedical treatments, cybernetic enhancements, and simple prudent habits – such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, cognitive activity, and access to relevant health information (even “Quantified Self” is a power-up that one can purchase). We should all strive to live the most informed and healthy lives possible, given present technology, in order to maximize our chances of surviving to the next wave of breakthroughs on the way to longevity escape velocity.
Not a day passes when I do not think about innovative ways to reach the general public with the message of indefinite life extension. For years, I have advocated the gamification of this literally vital idea as one of the most powerful ways to catalyze cultural change on this issue. I am immensely pleased to now witness such an effort taking off, due to the excellent work of Messrs. Lamot, Hinderyckx, and Devos. I donated to the Indiegogo fundraiser to help propel LEV: The Game to its hopefully world-changing final version. I hope that all readers of this article will be able to do the same.