So, the secret is out: I love playing video games. (As if those who truly know me didn’t know already.) I’d say playing video games is definitely an obsession; a compulsion of sorts. From the time I was eight or nine years old, I spent far too many hours wasting the day away playing Prince of Persia and Doom on an old Apple IIC, then spent most of my teenage years playing Super Mario Brothers on the Nintendo and Sonic the Hedgehog on my Sega Genesis. As I moved into adulthood, I frequented X-Box parties in stealthmode with my rocket launcher blowing up The Flood in HALO, pretended to live the perfect life in The Sims Online on PC and had far too much fun playing Disney’s Toon Town (RIP) while throwing pies at Boosbots and collecting jelly beans, Tetris on my Gameboy and even learned to workout by playing my Wii. Many years later, the obsession hasn’t halted and I spend far too much time playing either World of Warcraft, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls or have some downtime with Portal on PS3 or PC (just depending on the mood I’m in).
In the spirit of making connections (I’ve been making a lot of them lately), I’ve started to realize that many of the concepts I’ve found to be almost second-nature in all of these games can, and should, apply to my life as well. I’ve realized that life is but a game, just like all the ones I’ve played and I can either choose to win the games I play or I can decide to nerd rage (definition: “Indignant, hysterical, and incoherent screaming brought on by video game induced frustration”) and throw my controller against the wall. The choice is up to me, I can choose to win at this game called life or I can choose to lose. Using tools and connections I’ve made, I’m choosing to win.
This is my top 7 list of most important things in life I’ve learned from video games:
1. Creating your character (toon, avatar).
Almost every game you play in the online world, especially with MMORPGs (massively multi-player online role playing game), you have the ability to choose what you want to be. You can, of course, choose your gender; choose what you look like, choose your class and further choose the role you play in game. You can be a high-damage (DPS) character or a healer keeping yourself and others playing the game alive (I usually play a healer – Resto Druid FTW) or even choose to play a tank to keep the boss’s attention so the DPS can focus on burning it down and killing it. Each time I log into the game, I can choose what and who I want to be.
It’s the same with life; I can choose exactly which character I want to play in life. Do I want to do damage? Do I want to be a tank and take all the damage I can and hope to stay alive? Perhaps I want to be a healer and not only keep myself alive, but also those around me. Although I’ve had my share of dealing damage and taking it (both in game and out), I will stick to my healing roles. Life is about choosing who and what I want to be; what role I choose to play. I love healing, I choose to let go of the damage (dealing and taking) and be a healer to myself.
2. Trade Chat is for trolls.
Anyone that spends any time in MMOs know that Trade Chat is for trolls. I’d like to think it’s unique to WoW, but I’ve seen it in other games, such as Rift and Star Wars: The Old Republic, as well. While, Trade Chat has its hilarious moments, it’s also full of trolls – people that decide to be pricks, just because they can. While the original purpose for Trade Chat was to offer a chat channel within the game to allow a player to sell, buy and barter digital game goods to enhance their online experience, it’s become quite a bit more. Players advertise and recruit players for their guild, have general conversation, seek others to group or raid with, ask noob questions and most of all, troll. The art of trolling in Trade Chat can be as simple as someone spouting off a sarcastic remark all the way to Chuck Norris and anal jokes, yo mama jokes, arguments and outright insult.
But it’s not just in Trade Chat that this type of conversation can be found. It’s everywhere: in school, at work, in relationships, at the mall, walking down the street. At any point and time you can find a someone trolling a conversation. Unless I’ve been extremely bored, I’ve not made it a huge habit to troll in Trade Chat, or any other conversations in life for that matter. Though I do have to say, I’ve been a magnet for them. For some reason, I seem to attract people that have nothing constructive or positive to say to me, about me, or about anyone or anything else. Somewhere along the line I became incredibly sensitive to what others thought and said about me. It’s as if my value was to be found in their words and feedback. It’s as if I let them define me with what they had to say. I took their trolling to heart and let it become who I am. But none of that matters. None of what they say means anything to me – it doesn’t define me. I’m not sure how I went from being so self-confident to giving a crap what anyone had to say to or about me, but I finally got to the point, again, where I let it roll off. In game and out, I’m learning to not pay attention to the trolls in Trade Chat.
3. Looking for Group.
Especially in MMOs, it’s necessary to partner with others to achieve objectives of the game. There are dungeons and raids and objectives that you simply cannot beat by yourself – the game is designed for you to partner with others in order to complete those quests and objectives.
I remember thinking for so long, “Pssh. I’ve got this. I can do this. I don’t need anyone’s help.” But the truth of the matter is, it’s hard to do on your own. Although, up to recently, I’ve had semi-temporary bouts of depression, prior to that I lived in a depressive state for over a decade. During that time I pushed everyone away. I thought I was strong to do it on my own, which, I wasn’t really do anything at all, except for holding myself back and pushing everyone else away. And then I got lonely. And then I was lost. And it hurt.
At some point I started craving community. I started yearning for others that I can enjoy life with. I started wanting help with the problems I couldn’t overcome on my own. I started wanting to commune with like-minded people to deepen that within me that I wanted to express. And since becoming a part of a community that shares the same goals and same objectives, my life has been transformed. It was a difficult undertaking at first, my pride and ego would get in the way. I didn’t know how to relate to others; but even then, none of that mattered, because they knew that wasn’t the truth of who I was. Being a part of a community and having friendships is a beautiful thing – seek it and embrace it. There’s nothing I fear of having to face alone, and I know that I am always supported.
4. Don’t stand in the fire (otherwise known as GTFO – Get the fuck out).
In game, this is one of the most annoying things that can happen. Especially from a healer’s viewpoint, it’s really hard to keep someone in a raid (group of people with the objective of killing bosses) alive when they won’t get out of the fire. These big bad bosses throw spells at the group/raid. The smart thing to do when the boss lights up the ground under your feet with a fire spell, is to move. How many times in life have I had something thrown at me and I choose to stand there? How many times has the ground underneath my feet been consumed with fire (figuratively speaking, of course) and I let it burn me until my HP (hit points/life) dwindles into nothingness?
How many times do I have to remind myself to not stand in the fire or, better yet, GTFO!? Just because there’s fire on the ground does not mean I have to stand there or walk through it. If it burns, if it hurts, if the situation isn’t ideal, I just need to remember to not stand in the fire – GTFO. Move on with life, move on to things that serve me and let go of the things that don’t.
5. Don’t pull.
So here’s the scenario: I’m in a raid with several other people. We’re all standing (somewhat) patiently waiting to pull (engage) the boss. We’re all applying our buffs and eating our buff food to make us stronger and some nitwit DPS decides to be funny and pulls the boss when no one is ready. Here comes this big bad boss, the tank can’t aggro the boss (“Holding aggro is done by (usually) one person (the tank) who uses his abilities to make the enemy attack him and no one else”) because he is AFK (away from keyboard) and obviously not aware of what’s currently going on. The boss starts raging uncontrollably on every one of us – spells here, debuffs there. The next thing you know, with our adrenaline pumping, pounding away on our keyboards, screaming into our mics at eachother, praying something will save us and we will actually win when all the sudden the boss kills each and every one of us. We look at the screen and all you see are little avatar skeletons strewn about the place and the boss laughs at us and mocks us because once again we lost.
The lesson here, don’t pull. Don’t pull that nasty boss; don’t engage in the things you know will hurt you. Emotionally and spiritually, what good does it do engaging in the things in life that bring pain? What good does it do to aggro those things in life that keep you from winning (from being the person you’re intended to be)? Why do we stay in the relationships that hurt us? Why do we consistently engage in activities that bring us down? I’ve had to learn the hard way, not only in game but in real life, to stop engaging those things and people that no longer serve me. Let those things go, even when they taunt you, don’t pull.
6. Just wipe it
You’re fighting a 25man Heroic boss. Most of the raid is down; there’s one tank left, a handful of DPS and you’re the lonely healer trying to keep everyone alive. The fight has gone on for a very long, excruciating 10 minutes or so, you’ve popped all your potions, your trinkets are on cooldown and you’re OOM (out of mana). You’re nowhere near killing off this boss. Even though they’re angry, even though they’re being screamed at you with no patience, there has never been such comforting words than now, when you’re raid leader yells at you, “Just wipe it.”
In the gaming world, this is an indication that you’re surrendering. You’re letting the boss kill off your raid members. But why? So you can go back in, reset the encounter and try again. Granted, depending on the competency of your raid team and the difficulty of the boss, you might be wiping for days. (I remember we wiped on the Lich King for 11 days straight, at least 14 hours a day, before we got him.)
That’s the beauty of wiping it. You get to start over, you get to try again. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve tried. It doesn’t matter how low the boss’s health (or yours) is right now. You can always decide to wipe it and start again. What matters is right now, and if it’s something that you want badly enough, you always, always, always have the opportunity to start over.
7. It’s just a game.
How great it is knowing that all life is just a game. None of it is real, none of it truly matters. The bosses we have to defeat, the quests we have to complete. When it’s all said and done, none of it really, truly matters. Times may be hard, but it’s usually fun. You win some, you lose some. You live and learn. It might be trying, it might be challenging, but again, in the end it was nothing but a good time.
Get as many achievement points you can, get as much gold you can, help others that need it, don’t forget to ask for help yourself. Sometimes you have the best gear, other times you don’t. Just enjoy life for the game that it is.
Live and have fun. Take the ups and downs, your wins and losses, be grateful for them. Play the game.