So yeah, I have been a gamer for seventeen years of my life, and I am only twenty, I was playing Mario Bros on my NES before I knew how to tie my shoes (Probably did not learn because I was playing).
I have played from Duck Hunt to Portal and I´m not planning on stopping soon, but lately a little question has been haunting my geeky head… ¿What have I learned from almost 10 thousand hours spent with a controller on my hand?
I started thinking about it, and the answer was a little bit surprising, I realized through my life, Video Games have been teaching me stuff that I apply on my everyday life without noticing, and I have to tell you something, My life, well it´s pretty awesome.
I have tried a little bit of every genre, except sports (If I don´t do them on the field, ¿Why would I do them on my couch?), but the lessons that have stuck to me more I have learned from playing RPG´s.
So with no further introduction here is Humberto´s 10 step guide to live an Awesomely Epic RPG Life
1: Give yourself Purpose
The first thing that you need to have an Epic RPG adventure kind of life, is to give some purpose to it, that is the thing that will get you trough the tough times.
Be it the classic “An androgynous man with an astoundingly long sword destroyed my village, so I swear revenge upon him” or the most common “A turtle monster thing has escaped with my girlfriend so I will save it” you NEED purpose in your life.
Maybe you don´t have to swear revenge on someone, why not something more simple like “I want to start my own business” Or hey, the sky is the limit, you can always go for things like “I Want to cure Cancer”, Hey ¿Why the fuck not? If Cloud managed to beat the shit out of Sephirot, you CAN cure cancer.
We gamers are Hard Wired to want to save the world, we have a need for an Epic Purpose within our actions, after years of saving the world or the galaxy, we need to have this Epic filling, this is what fulfills us, and the best way to get, it to give one to ourselves.
You need to find the reason of why you do the things you do, you need to set yourself goals, everything has to lead to that something you have been dreaming for so long, be it money, love, or whatever the hell your geeky and sick mind has thought of by now.
I´m guessing it´s less related to this…
And more like this…
But hey, I´m not here to judge, I´m just here to give some advice, the point, find some purpose.
That is the first step to start your quest!
Well I´ll give you five minutes to think until you find some purpose…
¡Great! Now that you have your purpose in life, you need to start…
2: Thinking Long term
No matter what video game you are playing be it Mario Bros, Call of Duty or Mass Effect, you always need to think long term.
¿What do I mean by this?
Real simple, no matter if the terrorists have a Nucelar Bomb and the President whole family kidnapped, you always need to find a goddamn switch, turn off a goddamn comm-link, etc.
¿You still not getting my point?
If you want to do some glorious thing you will ALWAYS have to do the hundred little things that will finally end in that glorious thing you want.
You need to kill three thousand goblins to see if one of them will finally drop that LAST item you need to finally build your “Ultimate Armor of Ultimate Destruction” In world of Warcraft, and you know when you have that armor, finally “XxKing_DeathxX” will be a name to fear in Azeroth.
It works just the same in real life, ¿You want to be a CEO?, well start busting your ass either by starting your own company or by climbing up some corporate ladder.
The lesson is, once you have your purpose, the future, the goal you so much want, you need to reverse engineer it down to your present, by doing that you will know exactly the tasks that need to be done for you to accomplish what you desire so much.
Hey, I know, It is a pain in the ass, many things you will not like young Padawan, but in the end it will always pay off, It is as the old saying goes “The Death Star was not built in one day”
Which takes me to my next point…
3: Micro Manage your ass off !!
This is an easy one that does not need so much explanation.
In video games you are always Micro Managing your stuff and your skills, call it a skill tree, or choosing how to spend your points in Call of Duty, you are always Micro Managing.
If you want that Epic Sword in World of Warcraft it is not that hard to save money by not buying so many junk.
¿You desperately need that Thermal Scope in Call of Duty?
Well you don´t have to be Albert Einstein to know that it will take longer to buy it if you keep buying all that ugly Camo for your M16.
When playing Final Fantasy or Baldur´s Gate, almost any RPG you always need to chose how to spend you hard earned skill points in that confusing skill tree.
It´s a little bit sad, but if you want to cast Fireballs of Death, first you need to spend some points on Magic Missiles.
These are but some examples of Micro Managing in video games, by applying the same basic principles in your daily life, you will start realizing that you are saving money, and accomplishing your goals faster.
Micro Management is the perfect way to dissect your goals into simple, achievable solutions, that at first may have nothing you do with your end goal, but in the end, everything you have done is building to achieve that goal.
¿Want to take your girlfriend to a fancy place? Stop spending all your money on Video Games (Just joking, but you get the point don´t you?)
And since we are talking about smart use of your resources, let´s go to my next point…
4: Don´t Be a Hoarder
¿You really need all those tin cans in Fallout 3? ¿Why do you keep picking up all those teddy bears?
Hoarding in Video Games never pays off, first you injure your virtual back, and that is just not cool man.
And Building upon point number three, in Video Games there is always someone who will buy all your junk, and if you desperately need the money for that assault rifle, well then ¡Sell all your Junk!
I guess what you are thinking, this is to good to be true, this only happens in video games, ¿Who will buy my junk in real life?
Guess what kiddo, it also happens in real life…
At least once a year you should take out all the stuff you don´t use and sell it, do a garage sale, take it to pawn shop, sell it to some friends.
There is no need to hold on to useless stuff, you could be playing the latest console or game right now, but you decide to hold on to that old copy of “Custers Revenge”
If videogames have taught me something is that my princess is always in another castle.
But no matter how many castles I visit, I will always go to the next until I find her, games like Ninja Gaiden 2 are hard as hell to beat on the toughest difficulties, but no matter how many times we gamers fail, we will always keep trying.
This is one of the most important things I have learned from videogames, I have to keep trying; victory is just one more failure away.
Videogames train us to fail and don´t give up, and yet I see that in real life, people give up very easily.
In order to achieve something you will need to try many different ways to get it, this always happens in real life. And when you get to your goal the first time, It does not feel as good as when you have tried, failed and learned from you failure.
Be it a math test, making out with a girl or learning how to skate, it is always more satisfying when it is challenging.
As Niels Bohr once said:
“An expert is someone who has failed in every possible way on a very narrow field of knowledge”
Every time you fail, you get better at what you are attempting to do, practice makes the master.
Video games are all about practicing, using the right weapon, timing your critical hits, etc.
Real life is just like this, you need to use the right skills and time your attempts.
Just like Mario, once you are sure of what you want, you should never give up on that dream, great thing are never easy to get, but if you always keep in mind your goal, persisting should not be hard.
Your goal is what will inspire you to stand up and try again with every failure, your goal is what will make you stop and think of what you did wrong.
“Commander Shepard, we need you to assemble a team, made out of the best this galaxy has to offer, this is a suicide mission, but we know you can make it.”
“Fuck no ! I Am not going trough the Omega 6 Relay, that IS suicide”
¿How lame would it be if Mass Effect 2 played out like that?
Think about any game you like, Resident Evil, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, every game begins because the main character DARES to do something no one has ever done before, he DARES to try something all other people think is hopeless or stupid.
Games would suck if those characters did not Dare !
Life is just the same…
You have to Dare and do the thing you love, do the things you are passionate about. At least you have to try.
Yes, Sometimes we might feel insecure, but it is way better to dare and do something completely new, or adventurous than to spend all you life thinking ¿What If?
You have to try new things, to experiment, to tell that girl you love her, to leave your job and start your own business, to jump from a parachute; you need to dare to live.
Video games reward you when you innovate, when you are creative, life works the same, all those thing you want are just waiting for you around the corner, only if you dare go for them.
7: Explore your surroundings
Video games not only reward for being creative, they also reward you for exploring your surroundings.
Always be on the lookout for that strange tree that might hold something, that corridor that looks useless but will take you to a chest, exploration almost always comes with rewards.
You can always find great thing by exploring your surroundings in games, for example in Portal 2 if you are curious enough you find a quartet of singing turrets, pretty awesome indeed.
It is the same in real life (No singing turrets sorry), you will not find a chest with gold, but by exploring your surroundings you become more aware of everything that goes around you.
It also works for inspiration, when everything feels dull and monotone, a little bit of exploration is always useful to pick up the morale.
8: Ask all possible questions (Or the Curiosity pays Principle)
In most video games but specially in RPG´s information is your best weapon.
Yes you have a pretty straight forward mission “Save the Galaxy from those giant things that want to kill us all !!!”
But…that is usually not the whole story.
¿Where do they come from?
¿What are they?
¿Why do they want to kill us?
You always need to ask all possible questions in order to move forward, there is no such thing as an stupid question, so don´t worry for that.
Whatever you choose to do in your life if you want to do something new, something creative, if you want to innovate, you will have to ask all possible questions within that field of knowledge or expertise.
Not ALL information is relevant, you will have to filter trough a lot of bad information, but in order to do something that matters, you will have to ask, you will have to be curious.
And the moment you find a question without answer, well, then you have a found the right question.
9: Be Yourself
At first video games were as straight forward as they come .
But as time passed, video games got more complex, specially RPG´s.
The time of only one story line changed, to the one objective kind of game, in which you have one objective, but how you get it is up to you.
Video games started to stand in moral ground, making you chose things that at first were plain black and white, but as the time passed, the choices on video games became more grey.
Video games today reward you for playing your own style, they reward for being who you are. Yes the goal is set to be something specific, but the way to get that goal, will be my own personal journey. Games like Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Fable and the Fallout series have all taken this perspective.
¿What does this teach us? (Or at least what I got from that)
If you have your eyes firmly set in the goal you want, it does not matter which path you take, as long as that path is what you consider the right one.
There are many ways to Rome, but in the end, if we persist, if we dare, if we have goals, and especially if we keep true to ourselves, we will all end in Rome.
10: Life is a multiplayer game
No matter what you are trying to do, there is probably someone else trying to do the same.
The best thing you can do about it, work together!
Collaboration helps get things done, if you find someone with the same goal as you, don´t try and compete with them, unite and together you will achieve better things.
Commander Shepard did not save the Galaxy by himself.
Remember, you share this world with 7 billion people, and most things will get solved when we all, or at least most of us, learn how to work together.
I hope you found this entertaining and educating, If at least one person after reading this starts thinking of video games not only as just entertainment but also as a means for education and inspiration, my job is done.
After 17 years of being a geeky bastard I have realized that I owe more things to video games than what I thought.
¿Have you learned something from all those years gaming?
Share in the comments !
UPDATE: Here is my TED Talk ! 😀