Life is sometimes quite complex for me to grasp. Playing video games is both an escape and a form of entertainment, but it seems that even in video games I tend to still go back to what life is about. How beautifully ironic is that? Here are some of my favourite life lessons from video games:
- Work your ass off if you wanna survive. In video games as in real life, no work means no resources. For the first chapter of Dragon Quest Builders, you need to protect the city you worked hard to build literally from the dirt — with things called the Cantlin Shield. Failing to do so results in the first boss destroying everything you worked hard for. To get a hold of the Cantlin Shield however, requires quite a handful of work. You can choose not to work if it’s too much, but don’t expect to move forward and gain progress. Like in real life, if you don’t work for it, you can’t expect the things you want to fall onto your lap.
- Calculate your risk vs your rewards. Mario Kart’s maps always have shortcuts in nooks and crannies. When you’re in 1st place during the last lap, you make a call: Take that tricky shortcut (potentially hitting corners and falling off edges) and swoop straight into victory if you do make it; or just continue down the safe and easy path, which might take a second or two longer, and defend yourself from being overtaken by other players who take the shortcut. You know your own capabilities. You know what you can and cannot do, and what you think you can do if you put your mind to it. If it’s worth doing is a whole different thing altogether. Will the rewards later on compensate for the risks that you take?
- Loss is inevitable. The best stories usually involve you losing someone along the way. Your family, your loved one, your tribe, your best friend, your prized possession, or even your memory. But at the end of the day, it is this void that motivates you to fight, go further, and replace/regain what was taken away from you. In that note —
- Failing is absolutely okay. I used to think I have to do things perfectly. I pressured myself to always place 1st in video games, to the point that I feel ashamed when people watch me and I don’t do spectacular at it. One of the reasons I’ve abandoned this thinking is the Zelda series. You will keep dying, over and over and over again. (Dark Souls, anyone?) It was inevitable and it was gruesome to go through. But eventually I accepted it and I just kept trying. Which brings me to my next point —
- What doesn’t kill you really makes you stronger. You can’t just slay the Ender Dragon the moment you start playing Minecraft. It’s not even possible to find The End without dying from gravity, starvation, or enemies. But getting back up and levelling up totally compensates. The journey is just as valuable as the goal itself. Because what doesn’t kill you, you end up killing, and eventually makes you stronger.
- The biggest competition is yourself. Everything is a state of mind. In one of the companies I worked in, we had a game night where lights were off and Slenderman was on a large screen. Everyone was pissing while playing it because the environment added that extra spook to the game. One of the girls wasn’t affected at all though, and I still think it had a lot to do with how she thought of horror games. So while everyone else was unable to play, she was not bothered at all and finished the game. Long story short: if you think you can do it, then you probably can.
- You can always continue where you left off, no matter how long it takes. Link took 100 years to finish the mission he was given in Breath of the Wild. What makes you think a short span of pain, bankruptcy or unemployment can stop you from making it big in the world? Sometimes you just need to take a breather for 5 minutes — or a decade, no judgment — to pick up the pieces and continue your journey. The important thing is you did not give up on your mission.
- There’s no such thing as ‘game over’. Things are only over when you decide to accept that they’re over. If you’ve ever played in old school arcade shops, you know that for a small price, you can keep playing if you want. I think that’s how it is in real life, too. You pay a small price — usually in the form of our time and resources — and you just keep going until you no longer can. You keep going despite how many blackouts you face and take everything with you to become the best version of yourself.
There are a ton of other lessons I have taken from games, but these are some of the most valuable for me. What is your favourite video game and the life lesson you’ve learned from playing it?