Your Life as a Video Game
I loved this post on Lifehacker about looking at your life as a video game. It’s a fitness post, but it’s applicable to everything in life and I also think it speaks volumes for why people grow bored or feel bewildered with the happily ever after.
I love level 4 of every video game. The first 3 levels, you’re finding your footing, but by level 4, the game gets serious and drops the hand-holding, expecting you to apply what you know to solving the puzzle or moving ahead. Level 4 feels amazing, and that is the point where I make declarations like, “I love this game! I am going to play this game forever!”
And then I invariably hit a difficult level that makes me frustrated, or I realize that I have to wait a long time for a task to be completed in the game. I experience a dip that I eventually get through, solidifying my determination with the game. I am all-in. I am going to level up and up and up.
And then I hit the game’s level 50 — not the actual level 50 but that level the author discusses in the Lifehacker article. That point that you’re working towards. I reach that point and while it feels amazing to be there, it also feels a little… I don’t know. Not empty. Not a let-down. There isn’t a word for it, but I think you all know exactly what I mean. That moment where you’re not working towards anything because you’ve gotten there. And suddenly you’re like, “Wait, what is my focus? I’ve been so busy trying to reach here, and now I’m here. Where do I go?”
You don’t go anywhere. You stay there. You enjoy your hard work.
That is life. Life is about being happy in the Level 50. Life is about finding small quests that you can do in Level 50 that keep you interested and engaged. Life isn’t about restarting the game and trying to get to Level 50 again. It isn’t about chasing the next great life or scanning the app store for recently released challenges. It’s about being happy with the life you downloaded and worked hard to build.
I was thinking about this recently because I was playing A Dark Room. At first, it occupied every waking moment because getting wood, getting scales, getting fur — it was all such a struggle. It took so long. But then I got to a point where every point on the map was open and I had a shitload of steel swords and so many teeth that I could build a small castle out of discarded animal fangs. When I got to that point, I started putting off playing because there were so many games where I was still working to level up. But I didn’t want to close the game either. I left it open, clicking over from time to time, but my heart wasn’t in it.
I struggling with this less with life: I like my Level 50. This is where I am and I assume that it’s where I need to be. I’m okay with only working the small quests now and not dealing with the excitement that comes from leveling up. Because… you know… leveling up is a struggle, too.
Maybe that is why I like leveling up in games. Whether I play or don’t play… it doesn’t really impact anything. But not hitting the levels I wanted to in life? That hurt. That knocked me to the ground.
I don’t know. It was food for thought.