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 4: Leveling Up and Life
I’m starting to believe that the reason I liked RPGs so much was because it gave me a representation for the correct way to live life. For those who don’t know, RPG stands for Role Playing Game. You take on the role of a character or group of characters on an adventure. In this adventure, the characters usually start out really weak and puny, but by the end before you know it, they are extremely powerful.
When I first played these games (e.g. Secret of Mana), I didn’t even know the characters were getting more powerful. The change was so slow that, I failed to notice a rabite (an enemy from the game) started to die only after 2 hits instead of 3. I love the idea of becoming more powerful as a character for some reason. If only life were like that. Wait, it is!
Those who go work out at a gym (not me) knows that muscle mass is built slowly through consistency and effort. It is the same with improvement in sports, health, and even video game skill. Of course it is not as simplistic. It is often more difficult to level up yourself and often has more pain associated with it. But don’t you think that those video game characters feel the pain too? Is it fair that you get to sit and watch as the characters you control get eaten to death by a pack of hungry wolves for the sake of leveling up!? No it is not. If you want to grow in life sometimes pain is involved, but it is worth it if it means you can grow to new heights.
In video games when leveling up you may achieve an increase in stat points, hit points, magic points, and other things that increase your overall abilities. Back in the day when I was playing World of Warcraft I had a blast leveling up. Leveling up was quick and easy in the beginning. At one point things became slower; I found myself at level 22 struggling to get to level 23. Finally at level 47, I put the game down. It was too much! Many of my friends reached the highest level, level 60.
And now they have what, 80 levels!? No thank you.
Why do people commit to reaching level 80 in World of Warcraft? I’m not sure, but I know, one reason may be the certainty of reaching it. You always know where you are on that path; the experience bar tells you so. It also always lets you know the experience you need to get to reach the next level.
Life is similar. I know in reaching new levels of ability on guitar, each new level takes more and more practice. That is why there are many who can play a song 90% perfectly but only a few who can play it at 100%.
And there are many people who quit a long that road because they may become stuck at one point and not know how to bypass it.
But what if there was a little experience bar for everything you did? You are now a level 13 guitarist and you are this far away from reaching level 14 guitarist. Probably two things would happen. A lot more people would be good at the guitar and people would stop lying to themselves about how good they are at the guitar.
It’s amazing how many people I see that over-exaggerate their skill level. I used to do this constantly. I would tell myself I was the greatest Mario Kart player in the world, and then when I saw videos of people online who would crush me, and was promptly put in my place. This is level 5 pretending to be level 15 syndrome and I think we all go through it from time to time. For me right now, I’d rather just be a level 15 then have to pretend I’m one. I think that’s why it’s important to be honest about where you are at with everything. If I pretended I was level 15 when I’m really level 5, then I probably won’t take those steps to get to level 6.
I think a lot of people quit also because they see a level 60 guitarist (or anything) and they say to themselves, I’ll never be that good, might as well quit now. What they don’t realize is they can get that good; they just have to go through level 1, level 2, level 3, but people often want to go to level 60 overnight.
I have a friend who was like this. He was once complaining to me about how bad he was with women, and I mentioned all the improvements he made over the last year. “But you actually went on several dates, before you weren’t doing that at all!”. “Yeah but I’m not having sex, I’m not in a relationship, bla bla”. So I explained it to him in video game terms, “so you wanted to go from level 5 to a level 10 but you only went from level 5 to a level 6”. I think he got what I was trying to say.