Growing up with an older brother who gamed, it was obvious to me that I had to put down my Barbie dolls and Betty Spaghettis to check it out too. I didn’t expect from my young days of co-op campaigning with him that I would still be playing video games in my 20s, but I’m glad I did. They’ve been infinitely helpful in many part of my life. Here are 5 lessons that I brought with me as I leveled up from childhood to adulthood!
1. Being a Good Person is More Rewarding than Anything Else
Many roleplay-style games give you the option of being either good or evil and sometimes offer a neutral route. I have a huge, mushy heart, so evil routes usually aren’t my style. I’ve found that I feel hugely rewarded with the interactions I have with characters when I’m being a good guy. There have only been a handful of times where I’ve tried stepping over to the dark side in a game to see what it was like: there were no cookies as promised! All I did was insult somebody (not even murder!) and I felt horrible; totally not worth the guilt.
2. Don’t Always Believe What You’re Told
You know those creepy characters that usually beckon you into a dark alley and offer a weird quest for you to complete? The ones that will try to steer you away from the light side of the force? Yeah, no doubt you already know that the same type of people are living in the real world, too, and they’re usually not wearing hooded cloaks. No matter the reward (even if it’s a cool sword), I’ve learned not to accept what anyone says as fact without doing my research and coming to my own educated conclusions. Challenge what you disagree with, be fierce in your knowledge, and definitely don’t let others impose their negative worldview on you!
3. Look for the Best in Those Around You
Everybody has their reservations about sharing personal stuff, especially with acquaintances. If you put effort into a friendship, people will be more likely to let down their defenses and show you just how brightly their heart can shine. I’ve always enjoyed warming my video game companions up to me just to see their transformation from stoic soldier-type to, well… less guarded soldier-type who now somewhat enjoys a conversation with me. Still, it feels good to put aside judgments and make an effort to get to know a rough-diamond type of guy or gal. The most interesting characters are often the most complex; the same goes for real people, so get out your tissues and be willing to lend an ear!
4. Don’t be Afraid to Explore New Places and Opportunities
Nobody has to tell me twice to go adventuring in a video game (what’s cooler than a magic forest with unicorns?) but sometimes it can take a little more encouragement to get me to go to new places in the real world, which isn’t quite so fantastical. I’ve become comfortable in what I know but it’s kept me from having new experiences. There are so many places in the world to explore, so many people to meet, so many things to do! It’s normal to be hesitant about newness and change, but I try not to let my anxiety keep me from experiencing life like my soul is begging me to do. Things like giving an empowering speech or applying for a leadership position on campus can be one of the best things for you to do to grow; it’s always the scariest caves littered with skulls that have the rarest treasures hidden inside.
5. You are Somebody’s Hero
A lot of us have trouble feeling pretty small in the grand scheme of the universe. Where do we fit in? What can we contribute to this world? Are we even important? I quickly discovered that just as I’m the protagonist in a game, I’m the protagonist of my own real life story. With some hard work on my end, I can be any kind of person I want to be. Doing the best for yourself and others shows the true light we carry inside of us, which has the potential to make you a role model for those who still have a lot of work to do on themselves in that area of life. We each have a unique trait that helps us stand out from others, something we do so well at that even a stranger observing us would take note of it. Although my kindness can be seen as a weakness, I view it as a strength. We can serve as our own inspirations too.
Many people think video games encourage violence more than anything else, but they’re actually doing the opposite! By showing me scenes about empathy, perseverance and wanderlust, the games I play continue to shape the way I understand what kind of person I want to be (the biggest question of our time: warrior or mage?) and how I want to influence the world. Keep on gaming – it’s a surprisingly good teacher!