How to Improve Your Life by Treating It Like a Video GameReading Time: 4 minutes
We always seek to improve our skills in video games, as well as have fun. But what if you could apply some video game concepts to real life?
You’re not going to get very far in life by scavenging for resources in nearby shrubbery like in Zelda or by pistol-whipping strangers as you walk down the street like in Grand Theft Auto V, but you might find life can be endlessly entertaining if you begin to accept challenging missions and take action toward completing them, just like in a video game.
Video games teach us much more than how to set goals. They teach how to manage resources, care for our health, solve puzzles, overcome adversity, be OK with failure, and increase our fun factor by teaming up with other people. By thinking of your life as a video game, you may dramatically improve your quality of life.
In immersive simulation games or open-world games, it’s not uncommon for you to be able to select characters that align with your preferred play style—from silent assassin to medic to guns-a-blazin’ renegade. Certain character types will have access to different abilities, tools, or weapons that will end up influencing how you play the game.
Your life is no different. Of course, you’re born with a genetically-determined face shape and skin type, and the amount of customization you can do to your physical body might be limited, but other choices, such as the values you determine to be most important, can significantly influence your life.
For example, if you decide that solving environmental problems is more important than playing sports, you may choose to become a scientist rather than an athlete. The life of a scientist will involve more time in laboratories and studying, while the life of an athlete will involve more time in the gym and training. In this way, by choosing some values over others, you set the tone of the play style of your life.
Level Up Your Skills
There are many ways to make boring simulation games fun; however, in mission-driven games, play is the most fun when you can level up and then tackle the next challenge, mission, or boss battle. Skills development in video games is often depicted in the form of a skills tree. You start at the trunk by building basic skills (e.g., walking fast while crouching) until you earn enough resources and experience to learn more advanced skills (e.g., triple-kill combos).
The kinds of skills you choose to learn are also dependent on your character type—are you the kind of player who prefers to silently hack systems, or the kind who likes to overwhelm enemies through brute force combat?
Your life is no different. If you want to become a plumber, you need to learn to fit pipes. If you want to become the next President of the United States, you might want to learn the skills required to be a reality TV show host (You’re fired!). Whatever you want to become, you need to think of your life in this way—you have a skill tree that needs developing, so start at the bottom and begin working your way up. Otherwise, you’ll never advance in your career, relationships, or life in general.
Use Resources Wisely
In video games, resources—whether in-world currency or XP points—are necessary to advance your skill set, buy new tools, or increase your weapons cache.
Resources help prepare you for the next more difficult mission and at least some accumulation of resources is an absolute requirement for beating any game. Resources are also scarce, so you need to make critical tradeoffs between purchasing a flashy character mod, or a map that reveals the location of side missions that reward you with more resources.
Your life is no different. If you want to raise a family, you’re going to need a home, a vehicle and definitely some diapers. If you want to live the lifestyle of a philandering playboy (or playgirl) who parties on Wednesdays, that’s cool too, but you’re going to need some resources.
Figure out how to earn as many resources as possible, as quickly as possible, in a way that doesn’t make you want to stop playing the game of life altogether, and don’t waste your hard-earned resources on too many superficial items that prevent you from getting more important items.
Maintain Your Health
Even if you’re playing a game where your ‘character’ is a machine, like a spaceship or sports car, you have a limited amount of health. By saving your valuable bars, you’ll be prepared for the next challenge. Further, most gamers know that one of the best ways to increase your chances of success in difficult levels or against difficult bosses is to increase your total health, as well as your ability to recover from damage.
Your life is no different. Life will throw all kinds of stressful situations your way. In fact, it’s guaranteed. So the better prepared you are to deal with emotional and physical hardships, whether the death of a loved one or a personal illness, you’re mental and emotional health will become the single greatest factor that determines how well you’ll get through it. From physical exercise to meditation, if you’re not already building your health bar in real life, you might want to start! Challenges are coming.
There are many amazing single-player RPGs, each with their own storyline, quests, and missions that define how the game is played. The entire purpose of most of these games is to ‘beat’ the game because there’s an enormous amount of accomplishment that comes with conquering an immersive title.
During these games, there are often main missions that help tell the main story, as well as side quests and other opportunities to help other characters, which often result in some of the most fun gameplay and/or rewards.
Life is no different. When you chase big, hairy, audacious goals—life missions—life simply has more meaning. You’re constantly working towards something, you have a purpose, and life is enjoyable.
Just like in games, there will be unexpected side quests—your best friend is getting married in Thailand and you need to organize an overseas stag, or your wife can’t have a child, so you adopt one from Uganda.
When you have a mission and accept lots of side quests, you’re never going to be bored or wonder what you should be doing with your life.
Start Treating Your Life Like a Video Game
Gamers are smart. They can strategize, think on their feet, and collaborate with others. They understand how to read the environment to unlock secrets and achieve new gameplay experiences.
So try thinking of your life as a video game. If you fail, start over or change the game. Just don’t stop playing.