Life is More Like a Video Game Than You Think - Chapters 5 & 6

By Joel Taveras

December 14, 2009

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 5: Video Games and Simplicity

There are some quirky video games out there. I once played this game called Orbox. The point of the game was to get your square to a red square without falling off the screen. It was a puzzle to solve and each level usually took a lot of tries. I wasn’t really happy playing it and I wasn’t really bored either. It was sort of the “I’m bored so I’m going to try this game” scenario.

Another game like this was simple internet ping pong. The mouse was used to control the paddle and your swing of the ball. Not as fun as real ping pong, but definitely good for a screen. I even played Ping-Pong without the Ping.

When there are so many wonderful video games out there, why would I play these? Well, these games are very simple, and sometimes simple can be a good thing. Final Fantasy III for the Super Nintendo was anything but simple. There were 1000s of items in the game and nearly 20 characters, yet I probably only used maybe 100 of those items and usually the same 4 characters. I made a complex game more simple.

Not everyone likes simplicity. It can be boring sometimes. People often distract themselves via TV, work, or video games, to avoid simplicity. So is simplicity a good thing or not? In my opinion, if you can enjoy simplicity, you can enjoy anything. As a kid I enjoyed simple video games and as I grew older it took more complex games to make me happy. But now I find myself going back to simplicity and enjoying it all over again.

Another game I liked as a kid was Sonic the Hedgehog. The game idea in itself is immensely simple. You have a character similar to Mario that jumps, rolls, and runs really really fast. What an exciting idea! Now build around it huge levels to make the most of those attributes and you have a great game. This game was like the next step up for me from games like Mario and Mega Man.

Chapter 6: Items, Upgrades, and Life

I loved video game items. Mushrooms were one of my favorites. Touch a mushroom and become supersized. What’s the point of being supersized? Well, in the original Mario there was no point except now it was easier to get hit as a big man. It gave you a second life yes and now you could break bricks and access the fire flower. But why become supersized at all? Why not turn a different color, and stay the same size? Why, because it was cool, that’s why!

There are also real life mushrooms, but they don’t make you supersized. Some are simply part of a healthy diet and some make you crazy. I recommend the former.

I always like video game items. Collect this and all the sudden you have a special ability. If only it were that simple in life. Well sometimes it is. If you collect a gun you can now shoot bullets. If you collect running shoes you can now run with less discomfort.

But what is the point of this chapter then? In games, items are used to become stronger and more powerful to make accomplishing a goal easier. In life too, there is no way to accomplish a goal without items. We have books, computers, phones, and other items that make our goals achievable more quickly. Ancient cave man didn’t have many items. Maybe a club for wacking things. Try getting to the moon when your only item is a club.

As technology becomes more advanced, reaching goals actually becomes easier. I remember a day when making a video game used to be accomplished only by the most experienced programmers. Now with the internet, software, cheap computers, and google, anyone with the proper motivation can learn how to program video games. I used these tools as a C++ beginner and learned how to program tetris in less then a years time, without using my college education!

Cell phones are another great example. Now meeting people is easy. Before cell phones people had to discuss an exact place and time to meet, and if any mistakes were made they wouldn’t meet and would have to go home. But with cell phones we don’t have to be so specific. “Lets meet at the mall”. “Where?”. “Who cares, I’ll call you when I get there”.

MapQuest is another great item but has its drawbacks. The good thing about mapquest is it does the thinking for you. People don’t even need to know where they are in space and time if they can follow directions accurately. But if a mistake is made by you or mapquest then you’re going to be very lost. Which is why the new use of GPS systems is an even greater item.

Items are used as a way of making our goals easier. So make good use of them in video games and in life!

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Joel Taveras

Joel Taveras is one of the founding members of DualShockers. He hails from New York City where he lives with his wife and two sons. During his tenure with the site, he's held every position from news writer to community manager to editor in chief. Currently he manages the behind the scenes and day-to-day operations at the publication.

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