You have found Change!
Hack, slack, evade, run! Jump! Smash! Your princess is in another castle. I remember when that’s all that mattered. Video games, whether they like it or not are tools that teach young people that what you just did isn’t good enough, you need to keep going because something better is just over the horizon.
The landscape you quest over may change, but there’s always something better than right now. As you progress it gets ever more challenging. Games understand that after they’ve taught you a basic set of skills, you’ll hone them yourself through trial and error. They can throw bigger obstacles at you that you would never be able to defeat were you to start there. Most games begin with a character that’s not so different than the person holding the controller. You’re new, weak, armed with no knowledge of what you may become. You have to begin somewhere. You gain strength, smarts and experience as you continue. Things that were hard become easy. You find equipment along the way that helps you reach places you couldn’t before. You defeat demons and go from boss to boss, until there is peace in the land.
They’re easy lessons that can be told in a short paragraph. When you think hard enough, games teach you as much about life as any hippie uncle ever could. What they tend to not do so well is the story of failure. The dangerous thing that games have built in is forgiveness. Chance is something that exists in real life but most of us don’t get rewarded with new chances after we’ve failed. We’re met with even more challenges. We have to work extremely hard to get more chances. We pay for our failures. “Try Again” doesn’t really exist in life. People more often “Try Something Else.” Something completely new.
Also, what happens when you’ve rescued the princess? Slain all your dragons? Had your happy ending? Well from what I’ve found, you start over. You never stop being challenged. You’ve been promoted as high as you can go at your company. Do you look elsewhere or start your own thing? Which one is more rewarding? What path do you take? At the end of one path are rattlesnakes and alligators. At the end of another is a fire spitting, hammer tossing dragon turtle. Both are terrifying. But neither as terrifying as the choice between the two.
Games haven’t taught me the gravity of my choice. Defaulting on my student loans did. Being poor for 2 years did. Proposing to my beautiful wife did. Choice is tough because failure is frightening. But success, when you made the choices that got you there is the most rewarding thing in the world.
I don’t really play games much any more. It may be because the challenges I’ve faced recently have been much more interesting. I’m accomplishing goals and getting rewards in real life. I’ve found a princess and we’re working on buying our own castle. I’ve accumulated a full pack of equipment that will take me far. When you’re met with change, whether it be your station in life, in landscape, in your relationships or social status, or even something as innocuous as your taste in music, I figure you have the opportunity to either take that path, which will be met with great success or terrible failure, or you deny it, which means you’ll stay on this level, unable to move forward until the next opportunity presents itself. Change is tough, but essential to getting to the end of the game.
But, to me it’s exciting. I for one can’t wait to see what the next level looks like.