What skills do you carry over from video games to life? Has your play through of Call of Duty had an effect on your marksmanship? Do you learn about history from Assassins Creed, or has Destiny strongly improved your real life looting skills? The skills that we learn in games may not be transferable directly to real life, but surely there are some things that we get from this hobby of ours that impact on our regular lives. Other than the completely necessary ability to bash seemingly random combinations of buttons that is.
Gaming has helped me to attain a degree of patience and discipline. Not that it's been completely successful. In the far off future I like to envisage myself as some uber peaceful dude, dressed in slippers and a dressing gown whilst chanting and playing bongos in some complete Zen like meditative state, but I'm not there yet. I still need to buy a pair of bongos for starters. What I can definitely see though, is that over the years my experiences with gaming have helped me on my way there.
“Just one more game” is how it started out for a lot of us. The addiction. Just wanting to master this little section. Honing our skills to be so precise that we could get past this insurmountable danger. How many times have we almost completed something, knowing that if we had just a little bit more time we'd work it out. We would finish the level, pull off the trick or score the goal. Secretly we know that arcade game makers deliberately made games like this to get us to insert a few more coins to continue the game, but it's always felt like something integral to gaming.
The seeds were sown early for me. Super Mario brothers. Mega Man. Little Nemo. Cuddly classics with cute heroes and colourful graphics. But whether by design or technical limitation (and I've always steered towards the former) they all managed to provide that “one more game” feeling through incredible difficulty. For those of us around to experience it, the 8 bit era of gaming was unforgiving, and unlike today the act of completing a game was not a guarantee. One day I did manage to complete a game though. Kirby's adventure. The enormous feeling of pride and self belief was huge. So good in fact that it led me on to the damning and damaging sentiment - “Now I've got to do this with all the games”
My early teen years became a battle for dominance against my Super Nintendo. Through what was essentially bloody minded masochism I started beating all the games I played. Lives after Lives were lost. I don't think it bears counting how many times I pressed to continue. I would complete my homework straight after coming home from school to allow myself more minutes at the machine. My proudest achievements were completing Mario : the lost levels and being able to beat Killer Instinct on the toughest (seventh) difficulty level. If you've ever played the lost levels you'll know that that would have needed one hell of a lot of continues.
And then this invention called the internet happened. I thought I had won at the video games, but here came tens of thousands more competitors beamed directly onto my pc. Quake was my game. Death after death is what I suffered. I never became an extremely competent quake player. I was never enlisted in competitions or anything like that. But I was able to hold my own in matches and this was only as a result of grinding it out for a long time. And hey, when the home console ports came out I was able to annihilate my friends and that's what counts right?
As life goes on, I find myself with less and less time to play video games. Real life has a habit of getting in the way. What I can say though is that the soft skills I have learnt from gaming have a tendency to come up in my every day life. If any one here has worked in tele-sales they may relate to this. I used to work in sales and when you have a hundred customers a day to speak to and the first ten say no it is incredibly difficult to keep motivated. What you have to do though, is to keep plugging away. To keep grinding through the calls trying every time. You say to yourself “I'll get one on the next call”. And if you're having a good day you can challenge yourself to get better.
Perseverance is a strong skill for anyone to hold. Patience too. It can help you in your work life and in your personal life. If you give up on things too quickly you could miss out on a lot. I'm sure that a lot of people on Destructoid have developed a lot of patience whilst playing video games. I think it's probably one of the perks of the hobby. A lot of us will have felt frustrated, angry and full of rage at incidents which have happened in the games we play. But we get through it. We persevere. After years of beating impossible odds we will stubbornly fight and fight to get the result we want. The next item, cut scene or end screen. We want the result.
About a year ago I experienced a nervous break down. In all honesty it was a horrible experience. My nerves were shot and I found it incredibly difficult to complete basic tasks like going out to do shopping, or to visit the doctor. At times it was difficult to leave the front door without having a panic attack or breaking into a cold sweat. This would turn what was already an embarrassing situation into complete humiliation for me, and it became difficult for me to function on any level. I knew that I would have to get over this, but to start with it seemed like an impossible task.
Firstly I would have to thank the incredible support from my family and my amazing fiancée whom I am like totally indebted to forever for helping me through this time. The next most important element of my recovery though was probably my ability to persevere through several trial and error situations. Doctors told me that I should treat this effectively “mental health” condition as I would treat a “physical condition”. This in itself confused me, but I started reading into the subject, and grasping it on this level.
I employed a trial and error method for getting over the condition. I was taught to challenge my anxious thoughts which was a new concept to me, and took a long time to get used to. I eventually started working through my thoughts like this, and while it would never work at first, through persistence, trial and error I was able to challenge my beliefs and get back on two feet again. Whilst I would still not say I have fully recovered I'm in quite a good place now, and am finding things much easier. I may not yet be the chilled out Zen guy in the slippers and dressing gown that I'm aspiring too, but thanks to the perseverance and patience that gaming has instilled in me over the years I'm getting there. So in closing I would like to say thanks to all those videogames I've suffered through tirelessly. The difficult ones, the obscure ones, and the frustrating.
And thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I've been Rowdy Rhod and I'll be back soon with some more 'Reckless Raving, and Revolting Reading. Shalom.