the game of life

Have you ever been addicted to a video game?

A role playing game, perhaps? Or a difficult action game? You want to
solve it perfectly, play it perfectly. Get the best score, get the
strongest item, complete the hardest quest, maximize your experience
points.

How many hours of concentration have you put in? How massively much
positive energy have you poured in? Honing your brain solving puzzles,
sacrificing dinner to play an extra 30 minutes..

Your energy for the game is nearly boundless. It is monumental,
admirable.

Yet outside the game, ordinary life, reality, sets in and disappoints.
Real life sucks, you say. Perhaps there’s too much irrationality,
arbitrary rules, pain, or emotions. Perhaps you’re broke and working a
dead-end job. Perhaps your girlfriend is ugly.

All the while, inside the game you’re able to push, in a massively
positive way, for perfection.

What if..

You found a way to harness that inner energy you have for the game,
change the energy not at all, but simply slightly change it’s
direction, it’s focal point. What if you found a way to turn your life
into a game? You start by figuring out how to score the game: more
pleasure and happy feelings = positive points, more pain and sadness =
negative points. Now your task is simply to maximize your score.

Impossible, you say? Too many things are out of your control?

But isn’t your own happiness is in your control? After all, people have learned to find happiness in much more dire circumstances than yours.

Maybe being unhappy simply means you need to go back and work on your game-of-life technique some more.

I challenge you to a game of have-a-kick-ass-lifetime!

life lessons learned playing video games

An interesting conversation with a friend in which I find myself defending the position of video-games-are-ok has prompted me to reflect on the question of what video games have done for me.

  • lesson 1: practice makes perfect. This is a lesson I’ve learned/had reinforced doing lots of things, among them playing video games. For certain types of games, I can really see a difference from day to day in how well I do. One example is Ikaruga, a space shooter that’s both super awesome and super hard. I’ve also learned that sometimes it takes a while for the learning to sink in. Play for an hour, then stop, get a good night’s sleep and come back the next day and I’m better at it, guaranteed. This is true for many things in my life.
  • lesson 2: persistence pays off. This is a bit of a variation on lesson 1. If I make a goal, say, finishing a game, or beating it on hard, or whatever; if I persist I will attain my goal. Depending on how far I am from the goal, it make take more or less time. Persistence works, and works well, in many areas of life; it works better, I think, than most people realize!
  • lesson 3: A is A. More specifically, games are programmed to operate according to rules, and their programming is what it is. There’s no point in arguing about whether it should or should not operate the way it does (except maybe for game designers!). And the computer can’t “cheat”, it’s just doing what it was programmed to do! A is A, take it or leave it! I find this especially valuable to remember when I’m faced with a truth that’s difficult to face.
  • lesson 4: fun is only fun when it’s fun! When I find myself beating my head against the wall trying to get past a certain level, or just go a little further, it’s time to stop. Usually there’s a limit to how much progress I can make or how long I can enjoy a given game. This is true of many things I do for pleasure (i.e. just about everything!).
  • lesson 5: participation is more fun than just watching. Watching video games is ok, but playing is more fun! Watching sports is ok, but playing sports is more fun! Watching TV is ok, but living my own life is more fun! Participation is harder, but I get more out of it. There’s a limit to how far this goes, but the relative value generally holds for me.

That’s just a few, and there are other ways to learn all of these. I just happened to experience these lessons playing video games.

selling out

At long last, I’m moving on. We’ve spent many wonderful years together, gone through many ups and downs, but this is finally the end. That’s right, you guessed it: I’m selling my classic video games. Mostly. Technically, we’ve still got the gamecube and we have a couple of “classic collection”-type games for that, but it’s not the same.

Every once in a while I go through phases where I decide it’s time to get rid of stuff that has some sentimental connection to some part of my life. This time is even tougher because I actually still play the games some times. But frankly there’s a lot of other things I would like to be doing these days, and I don’t really have the time to play these anymore–yet I still find myself wasting a lot of time with them. So now they’re gone, and we’ll see what happens!

On the plus side, classic games have been booming lately so there are a lot of bidders out there. I might even make some mad bank while I’m at it!

The Sketch Guide

Super geeky, and highly entertaining:

the (final fantasy iii/vi) sketch guide!

This guy makes an entire FAQ devoted to what is basically the worst ability in the game. And he isn’t afraid to admit it. In fact, he talks about it like it’s a red-headed step child.

Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite:

See, if Blitz is the popular jock all shallow people love, if SwdTech is the bitch without any real qualities who is adored for her looks and if Rage is the scrawny kid with glasses few people like to talk to who’ll later make more money than the rest of class ’96 combined, Sketch is the poor kid who, besides being lactose-intolerant, suffering from asthma AND having the worst case of acne known to Western science, lacks any kind of charm, quality or potential.