Originally posted on: Seb's Gaming World
In the spirit of Christmas and reflection, today I’m going to talk about five things that playing games have taught me about life.
1. You can only improve at something if you keep doing it – Whether it’s playing an instrument, doing a job or many other things, the only way you can get better at something is if you keep practicing. When you first start playing a game, more than likely you aren’t going to be very good at it which will often result in an early death or coming last. When I first started playing Mario Kart 64, I kept bumping into walls and had no idea how to use items or use speed boosts. But over many hours of playing the game I eventually learnt that I could drift around corners and that I could keep items behind me to block incoming shells from other players to improve my chances of winning. You will never be an expert or good at something unless you put in the effort to learn.
2. In certain situations, risks pay off – In these uncertain times, one sometimes needs to take a risk to get ahead and if you’re lucky it will pay off. A few years back when I was playing through Fire Emblem Awakening, I was in a situation where my opponent was going to kill my sage regardless of whether I attacked or if I tried to retreat and unfortunately losing my sage would mean losing my ability to heal my team which in this particular skirmish was important. I found though that one of my characters had a 20% chance of scoring a critical hit which would ensure that my sage would stay safe and put a significant hole in the enemy formation. I proceeded to attack and the critical hit activated and I then proceeded to wipe the floor with the enemy. In this situation my risk had paid off. While I certainly don’t recommend taking risks all the time, sometimes they can be necessary and can put you in a much better position than you were in before.
3. Don’t just rely on one option to get you through – Sometimes doing the same thing in the same way can work against you. This is especially true in the Pokemon games where if you just rely on your starter Pokemon you can very easily get slaughtered by the opposing Pokemon trainer’s team. I had this issue in Pokemon Yellow where just using Pikachu wasn’t getting anywhere so I had to gradually train up a versatile team to get through all the battles which paid off towards the end of the game against the champion. Always try and be versatile in your approach to anything, it will end up yielding more positive results in the end.
4. When things get too overwhelming, try to take a break every now and then – Sometimes in life things get a bit too much to cope with so it’s important to take a break occasionally and come back to something with a fresh mind. I recall playing through a few levels in Conker’s Bad Fur Day where no matter how much time I spent on them that I couldn’t finish them. This was especially true for the countdown level towards the end of the game. I would spend hours getting through the first half of the level trying to duck and dodge through all the lasers without dying and failing miserably. After about an hour or so I would get so frustrated that I would make clumsy mistakes so after an “attempt session” I would take a break from that game for a week or two to calm my nerves and as I did this I would get further and further in the level every time. After a few months of doing this, I finally got through the whole level and progressed through to beat the game shortly after. Taking a break to calm the nerves can mean a fresh perspective the next time you come back to a task or situation and could make all the difference in finding a solution to a problem.
5. It’s the journey and not the destination that matters – Sometimes we are so focused on getting to the end goal that we forget to appreciate the steps it takes to get there along the way but once we get there this changes as we are more likely to reflect on how far we have come than where we are at that point in time. This is especially true in games like Bravely Default where I remember grinding through all the dungeons and meeting all these interesting characters along the way rather than just remembering the end of the game. It’s also how MMOs like Runescape (see review here) and Elder Scrolls keep our attention. Sharing and remembering the stories of how we get to where we want to go in life is often more rewarding than the destination itself.
Games have made a significant impact on how I perceive the world and how I respond to life’s challenges and will probably continue to do so. Feel free to comment below what lessons games have taught you about life. I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Hope you are all having a great holiday season and I wish you all the best for the New Year.