The following piece was written by Brian Wilmeth, a 25 year old aspiring author (and gamer) from Park Slope, Brooklyn. He is currently working on a book entitled “Life is More Like a Video Game Than You Think” (working title), and in it he describes many ideas how life is basically one big game and we’re all essentially just trying to “level up” in a sense. We here at DualShockers have been fortunate enough to have the author of the piece send us a condensed a version, one of which we can share with our readers. It isn’t the chapter you will see when the book is published, but more of a detailed summary of what your can expect when it is. We will run this as a weekly series, giving all of the readers out there an exclusive chapter per week. Check back often, as this young and hungry author seems to have a real hit in his hands. Enjoy the reading.
Chapter 2: Goals and Video Games
Let’s face it. Setting a goal in life can be hard. Some goals can be nearly impossible, like becoming the richest man in the world for instance. But without goals we just sort of wander around doing nothing in particular. Setting and reaching goals can be fun, challenging experiences. That’s what playing video games taught me.
So what’s the goal in Super Mario Bros? To find the princess. So you tackle the goombas, navigate the pipes and end up at the castle only to find that the princess is not there!? Then you look elsewhere. And you keep going. And you think “this is too much fun to stop, I don’t care if I fail 1 million times I’m going to find that princess!” But life goals aren’t always treated that way. You decide you want to become a millionaire. So you invest $2000 and make $3000, and then you invest $3000 and lose it all. And you say “Well, maybe being a millionaire isn’t right for me”, and you give up. If it were a video game you wouldn’t give up. What’s going on here? What’s the difference?
In this case it’s because the video game was fun and life was not. Losing the $3000 hurts. However I don’t believe it has to be that way. Have you ever played a video game that was too hard and quit it, only to come back to it years later and find that you really enjoy it? I had this experience with a game boy game called Metroid 2 : Return of Samus. When I first played it, I didn’t get it. I was walking around through mazes of torture in a black and white mess of rooms and creepy creatures. “What the hell is this?” My brain couldn’t comprehend it. I put the game down and didn’t touch it for some time. When I picked it up around 5-7 years later my brain was more developed and it became the coolest game on the planet.
I think some goals are like that. Just inappropriate for you at the time. Just as different video games are fun to different age groups. It makes sense then to set a goal you find fun to go about achieving, and this can develop you in such a way to tackle more difficult goals and still find them fun and exhilarating.
But are goals always fun and exhilarating to go after? I wouldn’t say so. It can get quite frustrating sometimes. At times I would play the same parts of Zelda for Nintendo over and over again for hours. I would hit my head against a wall trying to pass a certain part of the game. I would die and die again. And I would start over after each death. Sometimes I would finally get past the obstacle, but a lot of the time also I would die at the same part until the game wasn’t fun anymore. So I might turn the game off and play again tomorrow and suddenly, easily get past the goal I had so much trouble with the night before.
Does that make sense? Why was the obstacle much easier in the morning? What was different? I speculate that hitting my head against the wall the night before only made the obstacle more difficult. I think that’s why many people quit their goals. They believe that a goal is only achieved by hard work, perseverance, and lots and lots of struggle. So many people are playing the video game of life until they are frustrated and give up. The real solution however is to take a break! Don’t be so hard on yourself. Is it worth it to pursue a goal you hate pursuing? No. Is it worth it to give up? Well no, that’s really boring. So pursue your goal as happily as possible, don’t hit your head against a wall. Take breaks and have fun because if life isn’t fun, what’s the point?