I was never a big gamer growing up. My parents thought it would distract me from school work and now that I’m older and make the big calls in my life, I can say unequivocally, my parents were spot on!
However, I realize there are certain skills gaming would’ve taught me and online gaming especially has highlighted. This goes beyond mad skillz, hand-eye coordination and being a gracious loser. Playing sports helped me to learn about those more rudimentary things.
The following five items are things I’ve learnt playing games online that I couldn’t help but find uncannily applicable to life itself.
1. People vary in behavior when they have a lot of money
Be it coins, gems, gold or whatever the label for a game’s currency is, I noticed that some players splurge on new characters, outfits, power-ups and XP boosts, whereas others sit on tons of loot and rarely spend any of it.
This surprised me because money in a game isn’t like money in the real world. Or at least, I don’t see it that way. Money in the real world can be the difference between actually living and actually dying.
Money in the real world means education, food and shelter. Money in the virtual world means a marginally better chance at winning a game that is often chance-based.
Obviously there are spendthrifts and misers in the real world. I tend to be a bit of a miser, but I was alarmed to see how long it took me to spend something that was solely vanity compared to my friends.
For weapons or power-ups, I only bought what I thought made sense but I see people buying every weapon that they can unlock. That’s strange to me. It seems like a waste of money.
In the game, maybe you’d die easier if you didn’t spend on extra armor but we’ve all seen really skilled players with the bare minimum beat the guy who is intimidating solely on how decked out their character is.
I guess less is more to some, and more is more to others.
2. People invest time and money to be the best
The amount of hours I’ve clocked into games have made people ridicule me quite a bit. While some friends got girlfriends, I climbed the ranks in my clan quickly.
However, I’ve also invested my actual real life money in taking online courses for screenwriting, screenwriter membership fees and submitting to contests. I’ll also get some script coverage soon.
I do this because I want to be good at it; the same goes for gaming. Some games and things in life I don’t care much about so I don’t invest too much time, effort or money. But overall, I like being proficient and achieving my goals.
When you invest the time, energy and (sometimes) money into whatever you’re doing, you will reap the rewards. At that point, it’s easier to succeed than to fail because you’re too proficient to be bad.
3. Once you get a high ranking, ranking doesn’t matter.
Moreover, when you start a game and your rank is low, you wonder if you’ll ever make it to a high rank but you’ll want it more than anything.
You want the badges, to unlock the power-ups and to be as good a player as the higher level guys and gals. But when you’ve arrived, it feels good for a while but then it’s underwhelming. The fun was climbing the ranks, winning games, amassing skills, learning shortcuts and making friends.
The journey really is the destination.
Then I realized that it’ll be the same with my writing career and it was the same with my previous career as an educational psychologist. It was a bit of a slow burn with growing pains and mini-victories that led to the destination.
But when you get there, it’s… fine. You’re thankful, but it just doesn’t feel like you thought it would because perspective from the bottom is a lot different than perspective when you’re near the summit.
4. When you’re among the best, there may be an urge to start over
Seems ludicrous, right? You spend hours plugging away to sit among the best, just to do it all over again? Why? Because the journey is the destination. The journey is the point of the entire thing.
I thought I was the only one who felt this way but I recently saw some clan members saying the exact same thing. Imagine playing the game with less tools but with an elite level of knowledge! It’s exciting, and I totally understand why entrepreneurs make it big in one sector and then pivot their attention to something new.
Philosopher Alan Watts said, “In music, one does not make the end of the composition, the point of the composition.” Yes, the song must end at some point otherwise it would lose all meaning but the point is that the song was to take you on a journey and then to conclude.
It’s the same in TV shows, games and life. We all want to rush to the end to know who the killer is, to beat the game and to see ourselves as rich and successful but we fail to savor the ride to the top. As a matter of fact, it’s this aversion for the journey that make people give up.
5. Play because it’s fun, not because you want to win
Of course you want to win; of course you want to be the best. But what’s more important? If you won but didn’t have fun, it’s not even worth playing. If you lose but you had fun, then you’ll play again because you got something out of it.
Placing first and being the best are things that hold merit simply because we give it merit. It doesn’t have any inherit worth. The game gives more points to the winners and the winners have bragging rights. All of that is invented importance.
Similarly, you may be great at something in your life but if it isn’t doing it for you, then it might not be your thing. You might need to do something that you’re not naturally good at but you actually would love to try.
Sometimes these things can be heartbreakers because we love those things but we really aren’t very good at it. Even if we try to be better, we aren’t good enough to rise up the ranks. Our journey won’t end at the summit.
But the journey was still better than the summit you were on earlier.
I’ve seen a lot of my friends maintain what’s easy and known instead of going for the joy (and fear) in the unknown. As a result, life isn’t exactly fun, but I suppose it’s down to one’s priorities.
If winning is more important to you than pleasure, by all means, go for that. But if you want to enjoy life, even though you won’t know if you’ll make it (or even if you want to make it), take the leap.
Games show us that even though we may start out as total noobs, we can become masters. But more importantly, it shows us that we don’t need to take it so seriously. It’s just a game after all. Then again, does it ever benefit anyone to take life seriously?