I am unabashedly awesome at video games. I can tell who’s really gotten down in the virtual world and who hasn’t. I would like to posit the notion that gaming is just like college in America: it has great potential to teach you much, but in the end, the onus to learn is entirely on you. There are many people who became great because of the university they attended, but let’s not forget that recent history is full of successful people who did not attend college, or even do well enough in school to make it in the first place.
Video games can be a great way to learn, but the average gamer, like the average college student, would, given the option, play on easy mode with little or no interest in developing actual skill.
It’s worth mentioning that these are not lessons that I learned in life and then later realized “Hey, that’s like in a game.” No, these are truths that I learned first in video games and subsequently adopted the strategy into real life. If that sounds crazy then you should know that… it is.
1. Grinding must happen before success
I am assuming that everyone is here because they want to be successful. I could teach a week long seminar on just this one truth alone. Grind and success are two sides of the same coin—they cannot be separated.
If you are as manly as you claim you are, then this next part should be cake for you. It is the revelation that separates the adolescent from the mature. The truth is it’s not enough that we endure the grind. In order to be successful we must anticipate and seek out the grind. In many games, fighting repetitive and mundane battles is how you level up. That part becomes obvious when we get stuck, but here’s the part we too often forget:
Approximately 100% of the grind takes place outside the main storyline. The grind is the part where you don’t get paid; it’s during your off-time on the nights you don’t feel like it. Worst of all, no one even sees it. As with video games, there is no applause for grinding, only experience points.
Alas, this lesson is the most ignored. If like me you have already tried to get around this part, then you already know how it ends: any attempt to move ahead of where you are now without grinding will only result in a thorough ass-beating.
2. Timesink is a matter of perspective
A timesink is anything that takes up a significant amount of time. Over time, this has become a negative term in gaming for when the reward for achieving a goal does not seem proportionate to the amount of time it took to achieve it.
Every non-gamer’s favorite thing to say is that only people who have no life play video games. I am actually surprised when people say this about me as I have many activities outside of gaming.
It turns out that I happen to think that the worst timesink known to man is watching American Football. You don’t even get your own false sense of accomplishment and I could just as easily ask “Where do people get the time to watch all those football games?”
Some people see no point in getting to the top 250 on the Call of Duty leaderboards (Yes, I did that). I see no point in gathering around a table in Applebees to watch other men on TV be awesome and discuss what they could do better from the safety of my seat. Why brag on the accomplishments of another man?
Timesinks are relative and often a matter of perspective. Therefore, the objective is not to avoid spending all our time (it passes anyway), the objective is to find something our time is worth and double down.
Wasted four years getting an art degree? That’s a timesink.
Spent three years in a relationship with someone you thought you would marry? That’s a timesink.
Aspiring to be an actor, but instead spent 20 years in the National Guard so you could draw a retirement check at age 60? That’s a timesink.
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” – William Shakespeare
3. It’s always more fun with another person
This is really about the value of all your relationships, which I don’t confine to just a significant other. There are some incredible single player games out there with riveting stories, but there is a reason that the most popular games in the world (today) are multiplayer games.
Everyone has played an awesome single-player game and thought, “Man, I wish this was multiplayer,” but no one ever plays an awesome multiplayer game and thinks “I wish I was the only one playing this”.
Whether you want to admit it or not, gaming is social. We are all here for each other.
4. In all your winning, maintain humility
Most people are great at a single game in a specific genre. I had the privilege of being good at a wide variety of games across several genres. Call of Duty was not the only game in which I held a high position on the leaderboards, but every so often, I would run across a player who would be a challenge and we would leave the main game to set up a private match to see who was really better without all the extra interference from other players. While I won most of these matches, I do vividly remember the two players who I never beat once in my life. I just couldn’t beat them.
In life you can be considered the best in the world at what you do, but there will always be someone who can beat you. Every world record is temporary. The very best thing you can do once you’ve won is prepare the way for the next person.
My aim here is not to create more gamers. I did not seek to elevate “us” above “them”. Not at all. I only wish to offer a different perspective. I must confess that I often make fun of people who watch professional sports religiously. But I have to remind myself that we are all equal, we just have different names for the same thing.
As much as I’m not a fan of American football, I am certain that given the right perspective, I could learn valuable lessons from the right person. All of us, whether introverted or extroverted, Republican or Democrat, autobot or decepticon, have something of value to contribute. Gamers are no different. My hope now is that if you are a gamer, you would wear your title proudly in any social setting.