Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Everything I Learned in Life, I Learned From Gaming.

After all the years of schooling, careful parenting, and going to (and dozing off in) church, it turns out that all of my life lessons ended up coming from video games. Aside from the usual “don’t stand in fire” and “turtles are jerks,” there have been more than a few jarring epiphanies leading to advice that helped me immensely in academics, work, and social life. Plenty of other people have listed their lessons learned from raiding and gaming. My list is better. It has Magmaw on it.

1. If I want something done and done right, I have to do it myself.

I learned this while raiding. Sure, I had to trust my team and work as a cohesive group from week to week, but when it came to killing an add or fearing it away, I learned not to wait for someone else to do it while the raid lead yelled that we were going to die.

This advice has worked for me IRL too. At a job, all of the employees work together toward a common goal, whether it’s customer service, meeting a deadline, or building something. But if it’s a choice between focusing on my job and letting something important in the office not get done, and taking a few minutes out of my time to ensure the continued smooth operation of the workplace, I tend to choose to take initiative for the good of the team as long as I’m not neglecting my own duties.

2. If I don’t work towards fulfilling dreams and life goals, I will eventually go crazy.

The original The Sims games were great, but when The Sims 2 introduced the aspirations system, it became a work of microcosmic genius. Fulfilling minor wants like kissing a significant other or gaining skills improved one’s mood, which in turn gave the extra boost required to do jobs well. What really spoke to me was the “Lifetime Want,” a life goal that, once achieved, would put a character in a perpetual good mood state for the rest of its virtual life.

And when a Sim went through day after day not fulfilling any of its desires, the poor thing would actually get depressed, sob randomly, and eventually have to see a shrink. It’s like the Sim is me! I could spend the rest of my life getting by with achieving minor wants, or I could set a (realistic) life goal and work towards a more lasting happiness. Oh the choices in the life a Sim… er… human.

Another thing I learned from The Sims was that ordering Chinese takeout and pizza is expensive and fattening (link fat sim), but that was a little less poignant.

3. Some things are more important at certain times than other things.

Despite the confusing wording, this was a pretty harsh lesson for me. I used to WoW like it was my job. Honestly, I still play a lot. It's pretty difficult to be a raider and not play an amount that normal people would consider excessive. But during the last couple years at my first university, video games were trumping every priority I previously had, including class, homework, and hanging out with the friends I used to see every week. It wasn’t until I dropped out of school and had to get a full-time job to support myself that I finally cut out WoW, because I didn’t have the money for it.

Above everything, the big lesson here was to manage my time. Now, I’m back in school, working part-time, and still playing video games a good deal, because I know that at certain points in the week/semester, assignments and exams will have priority, and at other times when I have a little room to slack off, I can jump around Stormwind without guilt.

There are plenty of other things that I learned from raiding, mostly about fire. They'll have to wait for another time. Come back for more silliness!


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