People who know me more than casually know that I thoroughly enjoy playing video games. As I’ve played, I’ve learned that there are some things I’ve learned in video games that I’ve very similarly learned in life. As a disclaimer, I’m not advocating replacing real life experiences with video games. I simply want to draw some interesting, and at times humorous parallels.
Choices have consequences
Perhaps the primary lesson of life is learning that my choices have consequences. Ever since I was young, I learned simple things like touching a hot stove would hurt my hand or that not eating would make me hungry. Conversely, I learned that eating would help me feel full. As I’ve grown older, I’ve found that the consequences of my choices could be far more subtle. The college I pick, the career path I take could have far reaching consequences. At times, I find that I am faced with a number of choices that could all have positive consequences, such as picking out what to eat at a restaurant. Sometimes, the choices can appear to have little consequence, such as picking out what shirt to wear.
A funny story about that, one time I heard a knock on the door and needed to quickly put on a shirt. I ran to the drawer and picked one, seemingly at random. I found the Elder’s Quorum presidency at my door. The ‘random’ t-shirt I picked was one that I received on my mission. It was then that I learned that one of the counselors had served in the same country as me. It gave me the opportunity to connect with him that I may not have had if I had picked out a different T-shirt.
In games, players are constantly having to make choices and try to anticipate the results of those choices. Sometimes the games will encourage quick thinking, while others reward thinking things through. Some of the most complicated games involve knowing all the details of the choices and quickly adapting them to the current situation.
In video games, there is often a degree of chaos and randomness involved. Dice are rolled, card are picked from a deck. It’s difficult to predict the exact outcome of what will happen next. Sometimes, it’s downright impossible, especially if it comes to anticipating the choices of another person.
In life, many things appear to happen ‘randomly’. I am a believer that everything in life happens for a reason and that there really isn’t any chaos. Things happen either due to natural laws, or from a being with agency exercising their agency. There are so many factors that trying to predict what will happen becomes difficult. With my limited knowledge and vision, life often appears to be a random, chaotic mess.
One way of handling this is to be prepared and ready for what will happen. I’ve found that being flexible in some situations is very helpful. In others, it’s helps to have already pre-determined decisions so that my values aren’t compromised. For games, having a plan can be very important, although adapting the plan can also be extremely valuable.
Cooperation and kindness go a long way
I’ve played a number of online games and digitally ’rubbed shoulders’ with a good number of people. One of the games that I’ve spent a great deal of time on was ‘World of Warcraft’. In the game, I often found myself being placed in a group to cooperate with 4 other people in order to achieve a common goal. If one person wasn’t able to carry their weight, then the whole group could fail. I saw many times if a person was new that the other players would be very critical and negative. Many would resort to calling a person names. I have found in other situations that players were able to give out constructive criticism. Constructive criticism often encourages players to keep trying to improve and keep playing. Name-calling often does the opposite.
How does it relate to life? When I’ve received words of encouragement, I’ve found it much easier to keep playing the game of ‘life’. When I’ve been called names or given destructive criticism, I’ve found it easier to withdraw and not play.
Personally, I believe that life is meant to be a cooperative sport, and not a competitive sport. There is no way that I can get through life by myself. By being more Christlike, kind, compassionate, and understanding, I can help myself and others make it through life.
I’m interesting to hear from all of you. What some other ‘odd’ places that you’ve drawn life lessons from?