The interesting part about video games is that they are constructed to guide our thoughts concerning the subject matter, but not to bring us to a specific conclusion about its plot or characters. Think about it. How many times have you played a game where you believed one thing about the story or a character but thought something completely different by the time the game was over? It happens this way more often when the games are presented in a series format. I mean, look at the way the characters in games like KOTOR and Mass Effect are presented and then steadily morphed throughout the series into something else by the end. Just like an ancient Buddhist proverb, we are allowed to come to our own conclusions and interpretations of games and their themes. So that being said, here are some things I’ve learned about life from playing video games.
Once More, With Feeling
The old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” completely applies to video games. In fact, they give us the one opportunity that real life can’t. Take Borderlands for example: it allows us to replay a scenario or situation or level over and over until we get it right or until we have found the object of our desires. Whereas in life, we are doomed to go through a situation only once, with the outcome unknown to us from the outset. And while a great many things in life are predictable, they are rarely controllable, at least not the way they are in games.
In games like P.T. , you have to seriously pay attention to things around you. Often seemingly insignificant details can become a life or death matter. So one of the things that gaming has taught me is to pay attention for things, like those little pieces of a photograph strewn about the hallways of that house. Things like looking up when the window shatters above your head to see the frightening visage of a damned soul slinking into the shadows. And even things like the talking bag of blood on the table in the room where you awaken. Quite simply the lesson is: pay attention, you’ll live longer.
Hit It Again
This lesson is one that is hard learned for most of us. We like to trick out our weapons and gear the best we think we can. Then we go out there into the wild of games like Call Of Duty: Ghosts . That’s when we realize that there are players out there that live only to play CoD online and that no matter how many hours we put into the game, we will never achieve their level of insanity and will most likely never find their kind of firepower. How do we find this out, you ask? When every time you spawn online and move in for the kill, you pump some guy full of bullets and he just keeps coming until he gets close enough to blow your head off with his shotgun, or worse yet…knife you.
The Moral Imperative
Games have also taught me that playing for the side of good may not always be the best course of action for the greater good of the story. Being the consummate good guy may not always be what’s best for everyone around you. Sometimes you have to bend or break the rules. And sometimes you have to just get evil on someone or something to ensure the best for all involved. Take games like Last Of Us . You become so emotionally invested in characters that when it comes time to choose who lives and dies, you seriously have to weigh the options. Do you save the last of a degenerate and deteriorating society but allowing the death of a young girl who you’ve come to care for? Or do you spare her life and let the travesty that humanity has become fade into oblivion?
Maintain Your Equipment
Has this ever happened to you? You are rolling through your game and busting some serious heads. You are making your way to a goal or piece of loot or gear that you really need and you are nearing the end of your journey. Then you get to the final enemy before the prize and your weapon breaks? If that’s never happened to you then you are a vastly more patient gamer than I am. In Skyrim , this happened to me more than once. So I had to learn that whenever possible, I needed to repair and maintain my equipment and arms and not be so hasty to rush into battle half-assed.
Stop And Smell The Roses
Often times a game may not be super awesome, but the people that created it spent a ton of time putting details into it that are worthy of note. While Rage may not have been the greatest game that iD software ever put out, it is definitely one of the best looking games I have ever seen come from them. It’s a game where you really need to take a moment every now and then to take a look out from your position and see the incredible intricacies that abound within the well-created landscapes that you find yourself in. Things as simple as trash blowing in the wind while you are in town. Or my favorite, trying to see the differences in the types of people you see from town to town. Or even reading signs, like in Subway town’s mayoral office. It’s pretty amazing when you think of the effort that goes into it.
Exercise Is Important
So I am sure that most of us have played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas . And though this may not be the only game where the fitness of your character affects his stats, it is one of my favorites because you can go either way with him. You can turn him into a muscle-bound, Terry Crews looking kind of guy. Or you can let him go and he’ll end up like Fat Albert. But either of these choices affects how your character reacts in situations. Your fatty naturally can’t run as far or as fast as a healthy character, nor can he navigate the world via bicycle very well. So when ‘on-foot’ options become necessary, and the heat is coming down on you, it’s always best to be in shape. A great lesson for life as well.
Take It All In
One thing I have learned from video games is never burning through a level just because you want to hurry up and finish. Slow down and search the area, you never know what you can find. For example, in the Mass Effect series, the more you search, the more you get. Whether it’s finding ore and materials by surveying planets or scouring on-foot missions for gear that others have left lying around in past battles, it always pays to stop and search your area. You’ll most assuredly find weapons, armor and upgrades that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. So the next time you are trucking your way through a level, remember to take a short break and search the area for loot, it almost always pays off.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
One thing that games like Halo have taught me is that the largest enemies can often be taken down by using strategy and timing and a smaller weapon, rather than wasting tons of ammo and time trying to take them down. Take the first time you ran into a Hunter. What did you do? You most likely did the same thing I did and strapped up with the biggest gun you had and ran at him headlong, blasting away. But if you did this, I am also certain that you discovered–as I did–that this was not the best course of action. But now we all know the truth of it. What’s the best way to bring a Hunter down? Circle behind him and shoot him in the small, exposed space in his back with a pistol at close range or a sniper rifle from far away. Again, proving that strategy and timing are sometimes better than overwhelming firepower.
A Little Help From My Friends
One of the most important life lessons I have learned from video games is that no matter what, any situation can be overcome with a little help from a trusted gamer buddy. Now I am not talking about grabbing some hack that runs around blowing sh** up and getting you killed at every juncture. Not even the random noob you get spawned into a match with while playing Destiny . Even though they can be somewhat helpful, they will never be better than a trusted friend who knows how you play and knows what decisions you are going to make without saying a word. Someone you know has your back in any situation, no matter what. This is definitely the most important thing that gaming has taught me.