Life Lessons In Video Games By A Game Developer

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Hey y’all, so I had an idea for a post about REAL life lessons from video games by a game developer. I, in no way claim, to be an expert nor to have played all of the games mentioned. With that in mind, here you go!

Relationship Life Lessons

  1. <> will remember that. This is from dating sims where if you say the wrong thing enough times, you essentially don’t get to date that person. Or from Telltale games like “The Wolf Among Us” where what you say affects the ending of the story. The same can be said for reality. People remember what you say for better or worse. 
  2. Talking to others isn’t bad. More often than not, you end up talking to NPCs to help give you tasks. You might get side quests, more information, etc. In fact, in some games, it’s how you make progress. 
  3. It’s good to help others. Oftentimes in open-world games, you have to help others to make progress. I mean you can play an a##hole in these games too but <> will remember that….plus you might even get *rewarded* for doing good. 
  4. Do your part if you are in a team. What do you do in those games when you build a team and one of those team members doesn’t pull their weight? You off them. What do you do in multiplayer games when someone is not being a team player? You off them. If only that could be done in real life…just kidding. 😉
  5. Pay attention when others talk to you. Have you ever skipped over what an NPC says and then missed the part that you needed to hear to continue? (Deponia I’m looking at you…). In games like Hunniepop, (mom I promise I’ve never played that game) the girls test you with information about themselves so that they know you truly care. Not saying people in real life quiz you but you’d be offended if someone forgot your birthday every year or if they forgot what you like and don’t like. 
  6. Sometimes stealth isn’t the best strategy. Have you ever come across a stealth section in a game that is not stealth-based and curse out the dev? Yea… some games shouldn’t have stealth sections. In real life, some conversations aren’t the best to approach cautiously. Especially some hard conversations because then they might feel ambushed or unprepared. Great for a surprise party, bad for hard conversations.  
  7. Sometimes stealth is the best strategy. Good luck playing Hitman or Assassins Creed without at least a little stealth. In real life, this can translate to constructive criticism vs criticism or things like seeing your ex in public and acting like you don’t care.  
  8. Watch out for mimics. Prey is a game chock-full of mimics and you can never tell what’s a coffee cup or a mimic waiting to kill ya. I translate this to fake people or people who don’t have your best interest in mind. Not saying everyone is a mimic but be on the lookout.

Productivity Life Lessons

  1. Sometimes doing unexpected or more difficult things can be rewarding. Have you ever done something that you didn’t think would work out game-play wise and it does? Or have you ever put in extra work or done extra special platforming to get something really cool like extra coins or a hidden power up? Sometimes, it’s the extra effort that can get you things like promotions or bonus points with your significant other. 
  2. Even mundane tasks can be fun. I think of My Sims Kingdom or gardening based games or cleaning based games. These are games that have you do something mundane but you keep coming back. Why? I assume it’s because you enjoy it to an extent and not just that you are addicted to your computer screen. So why not try to find similar joy in real mundane tasks? Play some music when you do chores. Cook with or for friends. Make it fun!
  3. Compulsion loops work for a reason. This is in mobile games. I would call it instant gratification. Creating some easy tasks you can immediately achieve is a great way to help motivate yourself, to get that “achievement unlocked”.
  4. Reward yourself for hard work, taking risks, and jobs well done. When you accomplish a task in any game, what do you get? An achievement. Beyond the recognition, some games even give you experience points, money, or other things to make the task feel worth it. So if you did really well at work this week, maybe reward yourself with a game night or a piece of cake. Something that makes you happy. 
  5. Know what’s in your inventory. It’s why we have limited inventory at times so you don’t have to scroll through hundreds of items to find the one thing you need. I find that if I organize things where I can see what I have, it makes it easier to find and use. I also label everything (but so do video game inventories).
  6. Bartering isn’t a bad thing. In a lot of games, you get to choose your weapon or kart in Mario Kart. You may be faster but can you accelerate? Or you may do more damage but have fewer hits. You internally barter which one will suit your play style. I think this works similarly when buying a car or trying to find a new house.
  7. Spend your money wisely; it might be better to save now so you can get a better upgrade later. This is from management based games like Fallout Shelter where it’s way better to have the NukeCola Station because it gives both food and water but it’s also expensive and you have to do a lot to get those so you have to save and gradually upgrade all your stuff. 
  8. Debt is not fun and is satisfying when paid off. In Animal Crossing, did anyone get stressed accumulating all that debt and being forced to pay it off? At the same time, wasn’t it satisfying to pay it all off? 
  9. Knowledge is power. In many games, they have skill trees (I call them knowledge trees). You don’t have to be proficient in every branch of the tree but the more you know the more you can do, like in Oxygen Not Included
  10. Cooking is a great skill to pick up. Some games require this as a gameplay mechanic. In others, it’s essential for your survival in other games like Try Not to Starve and Raft.
  11. If you want to go on adventures, it might be helpful to stay or get in shape so you have the stamina to do so. I mean look at Link from Legend of Zelda or Mario or Sonic those guys are running, jumping, climbing, etc all over the place. (Also notice the variety of body types they have. They look nothing alike so focus on what your version of healthy looks like.)
  12. It’s ok to adjust your strategy to get better results. Sometimes you are using the wrong tool for the job; try a different one or picking up a new one. As individuals, we are all given unique talents and gifts and sometimes we might need a different talent to tackle the problems we face. 
  13. Your drive determines success, if you quit in the beginning, you may never get the full experience. A lesson I learned from Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy and other rage games. Yes, they suck but if you keep at it, it eventually leads to progress even if you unintentionally backtrack a few times.
  14. Things that start out hard may get easier over time. When you start an RPG and come across beginner enemies, they are hard but as you level up and get better weapons, it’s a piece of cake, isn’t it? Much like how in reality, I used to think math was hard but now I can do integral calculus no problem. 
  15. You may have different skill sets than your party but that’s ok. In games where you build a party, do you pick all brawlers or do you pick a balanced team? In Overwatch, there’s a reason why they don’t let you have 7 D.Va’s on the team.
  16. Bigger budget doesn’t mean better. I’m referring to AAA titles vs indie titles. AAA may have more budget to work with or a bigger team but if you want the really creative stuff, go indie. Look at Undertale or Detroit Become Human. These are two indie games that revolutionized how we look at certain genres of video games. Compared to Nintendo who has a bunch of Mario, Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, and Animal Crossing games. (Not that branding isn’t important, it would just be nice to see some variety).

Personal Life Lessons

  1. It’s good to rest to regain stamina. Some games limit how much stamina you have (I’d say it’s mostly phone games so they can convince you to buy more but waiting works too). I see this as a lesson to not do one thing all day, to try and give variety to your routine. 
  2. If you push yourself too much, it might cost you so know your limits. In Stardew Valley, if you run out of stamina working too much on your farm or other tasks, you pass out and wake up with a hospital bill which is kinda how it works in real life. 
  3. Sometimes you should try looking at something from a different perspective when tackling problems or issues. I think of puzzle games like Portal for this one where sometimes you have to really bend your perspective to make progress. In reality, it’s good to listen to others with a different perspective and learn where they are coming from. You don’t have to agree with them but it might help you to understand them better. 
  4. Mental illness is real. How many games are there about depression, anxiety, and traumatic experiences?
  5. Perfection doesn’t exist. Have you ever played a “perfect” game? They don’t exist, sorry. Or have you ever played a game perfectly? Probably not. To err is to be human. Expecting perfection out of yourself and others is pointless.  
  6. Oftentimes, you don’t have to play alone. Many games these days are multiplayer. Minecraft is an excellent example. You can play that game single player but it’s not as fun is it? Similarly, you don’t have to do life alone.
  7. Things aren’t always what they seem. Doki Doki Literature Club seems like a cute dating sim, not a horror game. Similarly, circumstances aren’t always as they appear. 
  8. Customize your character to your liking but know that sometimes you’ll need the “right” attire. For example, an easy way to get a moon in Super Mario Odyssey is by donning the proper attire to enter special rooms. The rest of the time it doesn’t matter if Mario wears his underpants. Similarly, for things like job interviews or first dates, donning the proper attire may help you along with being yourself. 
  9. Frustration may be part of the process, lean into it instead of rage quitting. Have you ever been frustrated by puzzles in games like The Bridge or other point n click games but feel satisfied solving the puzzle instead of just quitting? Similarly, in reality, you may have frustrating math homework or situations you can’t easily quit. So I encourage you to lean in.  
  10. Sometimes weird stuff happens that has no logical explanation and you just have to roll with it. Did anyone see the ending to Life is Strange coming? What about Oxenfree? In reality, learning to roll with the punches is a part of growth like when everything seems to line up perfectly or everything goes sideways. 
  11. Life can be scary sometimes and that’s ok. Basically any horror game ever. Or any game that gives you an intense adrenaline rush. I mean have you noticed all the scary things happening in 2020? But much like you can’t quit your objective of surviving until 6 AM in Five Nights At Freddy’s, you must continue on. 
  12. Life can make you cry sometimes and that’s ok. To the Moon made me cry but it’s healthy. Grief and loss are a part of life and if you haven’t experienced it yet, you will. And it’s ok. You will be ok. If not today, then eventually. It can take time and you can feel like you are having progress for a season but then back where you were in the next. And all of that is ok. 
  13. Life can be hard sometimes. Have you ever played Dark Souls or Cuphead? That is hard stuff. Sometimes, it’s friends not working out or not being able to find a job or any number of things. But man, is it so satisfying to beat a level in Cuphead, no matter the grade you get. 
  14. Some abilities require cooldown. Pulling an all-nighter for instance…Definitely don’t do that one multiple nights in a row or see the rule #2 in this subsection. 
  15. You will encounter boss fights. Not maybe, you will. It’s a good way to know if you are headed in the right direction. Also, don’t be afraid to be the least liked person if it means doing the right thing.

Misc Life Lesssons

  1. Outside is beautiful and there is so much to explore. I think of those exploration games like A Short Hike, Firewatch, or Pokemon. They often make the visuals of this game beautiful and the same can be said for the real world.
  2. Follow the lights, they’ll lead you to where you’ll want to go. In some indie games, the devs have the player follow something made of lights to make progress. It’s honestly a trope at this point. In reality, we all have aspects of light in our life. Choose to follow it and you may find your calling or a will to continue when it is hard.    

Closing Remarks

Thank you so much for reading through all these life lessons from video games. Seriously, this whole thing was like 11 pages so I truly appreciate it. Comment below any life advice you’ve learned from video games and if you want more gaming content, join my mailing list or check out other gaming content here.

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