Well hello, you. Would you stay a while and listen?
Because as someone who’d grown up with video games, I feel that I have an interesting article for you today.
I used to think that mindlessly hacking away at fake monsters was a waste of time. But now I see the purpose of all those hours sunk into the old DOS games like Flashback or Heroes Of Might And Magic.
It’s so that I can now write you a listicle. Let’s start with the first item on the list.
Imperfect gaming teaches you to finish what you start
If you’re an RPG enthusiast, you’ll probably recognise these steps all too well:
- Create a character, preferably your beacon of paragon.
- Choose a class. You’ll be the best thief ever.
- Come across a rare item that thieves can’t wield, so you decide to build a warrior instead.
- Learn that warriors suck at fighting mages, so you try creating a mage killer.
- Rinse and repeat without actually finishing the game.
Compare this to the imperfect run: You accept the highs and lows and just chug more health potions or hide behind barrels to get through the tough parts.
You plod along, knowing that your righteous paladin doesn’t have the answer to every situation. That’s imperfect gaming.
Weirdly enough, I’ve completed more games being an imperfect gamer than by aiming for a perfect run.
That’s life though, isn’t it? Sometimes we muddle our goals with the desire to do things perfectly. Then we end up not completing them, ever. That’s exactly why we need to accept imperfections in this game we call life.
There are no save points in life
One plus side to real life is that we can’t save-scum our way through it. There’s no making a bad decision, then rolling back to a previous save to choose a different option.
That means you’ll have to take ownership of your actions. You’ll need to live with not knowing what would’ve happened had you done that other thing.
This alone should hint to you that life was made for us to stumble through. We might not even make sense of it when it’s game over. And that’s the fun bit.
Maybe you fall sick when training for your marathon. Or your car breaks down when you’re already late for your meeting. And when that happens, you’ll always feel as if your solutions were haphazard. Like you’re simply winging it.
Let’s say book a Grab to the office, or make up for your training by running to work. You might employ those solutions while feeling as though you could’ve done a better job. But that’s the point. You need to let go of the idea that there’s one best way to deal with your problem. Because there never is.
Levelling up is never easy
Have you ever played a game where the sole mission was to veg at home? I know I haven’t.
Oftentimes, you start right in the thick of things. There’s a dragon to slay and you’ll need to work on archery skills. The world’s ended and you need to leave the bomb shelter.
You don’t go into games expecting your character not to step outside their comfort zone. Even chill games like Stardew Valley require you to slay monsters for them blings.
The lesson here is pretty straightforward: You don’t level up by sticking to the familiar or easy tasks.
It’s the same with life. Most of your levelling up is going to happen during moments of discomfort. In fact, I don’t think anyone has ever grown through watching Netflix or eating a doughnut. I mean, I guess you could argue the latter, but I digress.
One percent better
The good news is that you don’t have to take on the final boss right away. Games show you the path of incremental growth by putting you in situations you can barely handle. Not too hard, not too easy. That’s where you get the most experience points for your current level in the game.
Similarly, you always have to take stock of where you are in life and adjust accordingly. Already comfortable running five kilometres every day? Aim for ten. Easily publishing one blog post a week? Try two.
You need to find the dungeons in your life that give you the best experience points for your current level. It’s you against yourself. So don’t look at other people slaying dragons and feel bad when you can’t do the same.
That special moment is never going to come
Ever finished a game with a bunch of special potions you’d saved up for a big battle that didn’t happen? Yeah, we do that in real life too.
We reserve our best clothes for the special events. We save that special vintage for a future celebration. We save our best efforts for the right moment.
Well, guess what? That moment will never arrive. Because now is that moment, always. Now is where you have the most power, the only time you can take action.
Your boss battle isn’t that public speaking gig or doctor’s appointment in the future.
It’s here, now, when you prepare for that speech. It’s you making the best health choices long before meeting your doctor. It’s the mundane things in life that may culminate into one of your best moments in the future.
What’s the right thing, you ask? That, you’ll have to figure out for yourself.
Habits can make or break you
Even in video games, we tend to fall into hardwired patterns.
You arrange your hotbar a certain way. You use only a select few spells. You trade with a few familiar dealers. Why? Because we’re creatures of habit.
For instance, consider your buffing strat before each fight. You see a mob and it’s automatic: bless, haste, armour. Or if you’re a thief, it’s: sneak, backstab, invisible, flee.
Isn’t that what we do in real life too? The only downside is that it’s very possible to set detrimental shortcuts for our everyday tasks.
Alarm ring, cast snooze button. Pass a Krispy Kreme, add six doughnuts to inventory.
We function off habits because our brain loves conserving energy. That’s good for survival and all, but not so for growth. So we’ll need to remember to keep an eye on the hotbar we’re setting in our lives.
Because habits work both ways, and they can either make or break you.
You are the Chosen One
I know that it’s idealistic of me to liken life to video games. After all, some of you may be playing on Hell difficulty, and you’re looking at me saying, “That’s it? Tips for Easy mode?”
But if I were a video game character in your life, I’d be Cain from Diablo. You remember him, right? The dude who ushers you into every new game, giving you tips and tricks along the way?
Why Cain? Because I’m an NPC in your life. You’re the main character. And it’s my job to tell you to seek out your main quests and thrive. So suit up, get your axe ready—preferably one you can wield—and go fulfil your destiny, o Chosen One.
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