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5 Unique Life Lessons Video Games Have Taught Me 

Dr. Charles, an avid gamer and medical doctor shares 5 unique takeaways he’s gotten from playing video games.

Ready Player One – Welcome to my life! I am 25, probably younger than you and slightly older than your castrated German Shepherd. And I perfectly agree – I am probably not in the best position to give life advice. But then, screw that.

Let’s just say I do something you probably haven’t done in your lifetime besides a beer and a deep snore – video gaming!

In my next life, I will probably be a professional gamer with 1,000,000 geeks cheering me on at a National World Gaming event (if it hypothetically existed). And after twenty-three gruelling hours of non stop clicks, a wet soaked butt, shoots, kills, and secure the flag, I am crowned Best Gamer of The Century!

Jeez! I am literally shaking at the thought of this! But then,that next life hasn’t come – yet. You are still reading this. So I guess not all dreams do come true. Today, I want to share with you my top 5 unique life lessons video games have taught me.

1. Life is an Unforgiving RPG

If you aren’t a video game fanatic, you’re probably lost reading this. Hold on tight, I promise to rescue you. An RPG (Role-playing game), is a genre of video games where you control the actions of a character, interact with other characters called NPCs (non-playable characters) in an immersive, well-defined world. Games like The Witcher, Mass Effect, Dishonored and Telltale’s The Walking Dead rank up high there as some of the best RPG games ever created.


Fun fact: Aurion Legacy of the Kori-Odan (cover image) is Africa’s number one RPG.


Player actions have consequences. Sometimes irrevocable on how the ending of the video game pans out. In essence, there are multiple endings and where a player ends up is a sum of all actions s/he took. You write your own unique story.

In real life, this resonates with one of the Universe’s most important laws: The law of cause and effect. This states that:

  • Every effect has a specific and predictable cause.
  • Every cause or action has a specific and predictable effect.

In essence, you are master of your own destiny. Whatever condition/situation you are in (effect) now, is as a result of certain actions you took (cause). If you are currently single, you probably have decided to prioritize binge-watching Netflix shows in your couch over going out there and socializing.

If you are a deadbeat husband, you just decided family comes second to alcoholism and being a shameless infidel. You are making choices, these are your causes! Your social life sucking or you being unemployed isn’t the fault of the government or being black. You just aren’t making good causes. In hindsight, predicting accurately the effects arising from your causes is a lost cause.

If you are reading this, get this firmly drilled into your skull: some effects from the causes you make can be devastating and can flip your world upside down. You probably know someone who made a string of bad decisions and messed up big time.

It is an unforgiving world, take claim of your life. Become the master of your own destiny.

DrC

Spoiler Alert

After being a “nice” guy to Ciri in Witcher 3, she ignored my command when it mattered most. She died (effect). I was so angry. Then I realized all along, I was being a horrible dad and not being hard enough on her (cause). Did I have any idea what the consequences of my actions were? Hell no.

2. A Unique Default Setting

Wolfenstein difficulty menu

One of the very things you do when you start a video game is to select a difficulty setting based on your skill level. Play Amateur on FIFA 19 and you are bound to score 10+ goals against AI. Choose über (most difficult level) on Wolfenstein: The New Order and you won’t survive for 2 minutes.

Welcome to life!

Unlike in video games where you choose your starting difficulty settings, things are out of your control in the beginning. You don’t choose your race, color, genetic combinations and family. Not everyone is lucky enough to be born to Kanye West as a father who can afford a golden-plated toilet seat for a 5-day old baby. What are the chances of that happening for you? 0.00000001%.

Truth is, if you are unlucky to be born into a very poor family, life could be similar to starting at an uber- like level in Wolfenstein. You probably won’t survive serious illnesses, get quality education and quality feeding.

If you are short, chances are you will find it difficult wooing the girl of your dreams who’s obsessed with gladiator-esque muscular men. Being dealt a bad hand in the beginning as much as it sucks, is out of your control.

But hey, people have beaten the odds to make it in life! People have gone from novice to pro-gamers, from grass to riches. You just have to get good at beating life at its game. Improve at something. Give yourself a better chance at making it.

Add value to your life.

It might suck in the beginning but trust me, be persistent enough and you will get to a point where it will feel like playing amateur on FIFA.

3. Persistence is Rewarded

Ask any gamer the most difficult games they have played and I bet 9 out 10 will mention Dark Souls. The game is incredibly difficult. Check out this chilling stat!

Q: How many Dark Souls II players die every second?

A: Console gamers die 150,443 times per hour in Dark Souls II. That’s 2,507 deaths per minute, or 42 every single second.

Venturebeat.com

Now that’s 23 times faster than the real-world death rate (as of 2011)! Why do players persist to beat the game if it’s that hard? The answer to that question was discovered in 1954. James Olds and Peter Milner co-discovered a part of the brain called the “Pleasure Centre” while experimenting with some rats in the lab. Only this time, setting wasn’t in outer space and didn’t feature Dwayne Johnson (rampaging – pun intended)!

Dopamine pathways video games

They realized electrical stimulation via implanted electrodes in the septal area of the rats’ brains triggered dopamine releases in the nucleus accumbens. That’s the same chemical involved when it comes to addiction to hard drugs, sex, alcohol. This made the rats continue to press a lever incessantly even at the expense of eating and drinking for sustenance.

Dark Souls gamers have activated their Dopamine pathways, they are persevering with the aim of beating the game. You get good at something if you persevere hard enough. I am talking obsession level kind of perseverance.

Don’t give half-ass efforts if you want to get good at something.

Cristiano Ronaldo freekick via Dan Leydon

Cristiano Ronaldo’s teammates rave about how obsessed he is with getting good at football. And with five Ballon d’ors to his name and in my opinion the best player in football history, his persistence has paid off. Hasn’t it?

Maybe it’s about time, your dopamine pathways got hooked to something productive other than social media, texting and getting hooked to porn. Be obsessed. And even when you fail over and over again, be like the Dark Souls player, don’t ever give up.

Your persistence will be rewarded in the end.

4. Flip to Walkthroughs

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice gameplay via Kotaku

For 3 hours, I was stuck trying to crack a puzzle in Ninja Theory’s aesthetically stunning video-game, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. I got so pissed, I smashed my X360 controller against my bed (No one got the luxury to do TV smashing.Lol).

Fast forward 30 minutes later, I met a friend who claimed he had beaten the game in 6 days. The hell?! I was at this game for two and half weeks. “How did you do it?” “Oh, I watched Youtube walkthroughs”.

Whaaaat?????

If you are new to the gaming world, there are gamers on Youtube who beat games in the shortest possible time for a sport. They upload the videos for other’s viewing pleasure. They call these videos “walkthroughs”. These guys have gone through the pain to teach you the ways to beat the game if only you will throw your pride away to watch them.

In real life, you really don’t have to know everything. You can be the most brilliant surgeon yet suck as a dad. That’s the shortfall of our lives as humans. You can’t have it all. But there comes a point in your life, you have to give up on your ego and ask for help. Walkthroughs can come in the form of parents, teachers, books, seminars among others.

Going through a massive mental breakdown? See a psychologist instead of trying to figure out shit on your own. There are a 1001 self-help books out there than can teach you invaluable life skills. All it requires is, to have a ” I don’t know shit, teach me more” mentality.

Just as there is a beautiful saying “There is nothing new under the Sun”, whatever you are going through, someone has been there and done it. You just need to find them and extract the juicy info.

Experience they say is the best teacher, but in the game of life, you might not come out alive.

5. Only the Creator Knows the End

Sucks but we have to admit it, no matter what we do, only the game developer knows the true consequences of our actions. Only s/he knows the perfect ending effect and knows the precise causes that can lead there.

I do believe God or whoever you serve, knows the perfect ending and for all the actions we take, knows the ending that pans out. It is the limitation we have as humans. If that is the case, what is there to lose?

Be ready to take chances, and live with the consequences. That is the crappy part of our lives we suck at – taking responsibility for our actions. No one wants to admit they were wrong. No one wants to be seen as a loser. When shit hits the roof, play victim and draw the crowd to your side.

But hey, this is why I sat down to type out this long post for you to read.

I want you to take charge of your life, and believe you have nothing to lose in the end. In the end we all die. But between now and then, take a step and be ready to live with the consequences.

Live, enjoy Life while it lasts and believe you are the maker of your own destiny.

DrC

Hopefully after reading this, you let go of the “video games are for kids mentality”. Gaming is more than just entertainment! (origin id: charlieb_maxx)

Have any lessons to share, drop it off in the comment section. Catch you soon. Cheers.


About Dr. Charles

DrC, is a potty-mouthed hardcore gaming doctor on a journey to physical, emotional and spiritual enlightenment. He shares crappy life advice that could change your life. Join in the adventure on his blog, Life Hacks With DrC. Connect with him on Twitter @charlie_drc


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