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Games can teach us a lot of things like the distance between Independence, Missouri, to Oregon’s Willamette Valley or the history of ancient Egypt or even how to play the guitar. If you look closely games are packed with lessons including ones on how to live a better life. Here are a few life lessons I learned while playing some of my favorite games.
Take Time to Look Around – Kings Quest IV
Easter eggs have been a classic video game staple since the Atari 2600, when Warren Robinett, developer of Adventure, hid his name inside the game. These hidden treats reward players who spend time exploring the game and you never know what kinds of fun things you’ll stumble across. In real life, it could be a beautiful vista, a new flavor of ice cream to enjoy, or perhaps a new friend to hang out with. In games, it can be as simple as a delicious roast turkey hidden in a wall or discovering the entire Kings Quest programming staff by typing “Beam Me” at the appropriate moment.
You Don’t Always Have to Do What You Are Told – The Stanley Parable
Sure, following directions is important, but sometimes you need to question why you’re about to do something and decide for yourself if you want to. The Stanley Parable ruminates on theis question with every action (or inaction) you take. The narrator will be constantly questioning your choices, but it is up to you to make the ultimate decision to go continue pushing buttons or to venture out into the unknown.
“But as sunlight streamed into the chamber, he realized none of this mattered to him, for it was not knowledge or even power that he had been seeking, but happiness. Perhaps his goal had not been to understand, but to let go. No longer would anyone tell him where to go, what to do, or how to feel. Whatever life he lives, it will be his. And that was all he needed to know. It was perhaps the only thing worth knowing.” – The Narrator
If at first you don’t succeed, try again. – Dark Souls
“You Died” is a message you will see repeatedly as you play through Dark Souls. In it, you’re a cursed undead fighting your way through devastating enemies to find your destiny. It’s nigh impossible to finish the game on your first try. Heck, you probably won’t even win on your second, third, or even your fortieth try. Like anything worth mastering, Dark Souls takes time and practice to learn how to play. It’s a challenge, but if you persevere and put in the effort, the win will be all the sweeter in the end.
Think outside of the box – Hotel Dusk Room 215
Ok, Hotel Dusk Room 215 might not be that well known, but it was a fun detective story that came out on the Nintendo DS back in 2007 and it opened my mind to new possibilities. In the game, you are searching for your former partner, Brian Bradley, by solving a bunch of puzzles. For the most part, they were fairly easy to solve, but there was one cunning moment that took me by surprise and challenged the way I thought about games.
At a certain point in Hotel Dusk Room 215 you need to look at the back of a puzzle. It wasn’t immediately how to do this and after some frustrated minutes of fussing with the puzzle, the solution suddenly became clear: There was no way to do it in the game. To solve this puzzle you had to do something in real life: specifically close the lid of the DS. This was the first time I had been faced with something with mechanics that were 4th wall breaking and it left a big impression. When you are faced with something tough, sometimes coming at it from another angle is the only way to make progress.
Go Outside Once and a While – World of Warcraft
Playing video games can be a blast. You get to explore exciting worlds, solve complex puzzles, and discover all sorts of stories, but eventually, you need to put the controller aside and venture out into the real world (if no other reason than to get some vitamin D and find sustenance). Many games will give you that little nudge to take a break like World of Warcraft’s loading screen which reminds you to hang out with your friends face-to-face.
Bonus Life Lesson via Cave Johnson of Aperture Science – Portal
Cave Johnson is not what I would call a role model, but he definitely had some “advice” to share with the players:
“When life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I don’t want your damn lemons, what the hell am I supposed to do with these? Demand to see life’s manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons! Do you know who I am? I’m the man who’s gonna burn your house down! With the lemons! I’m gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that burns your house down!”
The takeaway here is: to avoid lemons at all costs. You never know if one is packed with explosives. What kind of life advice did you discover in games? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to tune into Game Engine on Twitch and Alpha for more video game goodness every Tuesday starting at 4PM PT.
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Hailing from New York, Jessica Fisher is a writer, artist, and all around geek. In addition to Geek & Sundry, she writes for Gameosity.com and produces the Gameosity Reviews Youtube Channel. Find her talking about all things geeky on Twitter as @miniktty.
Image Credits: Atlus, Sierra Entertainment, Galactic Cafe, Namco Bandai Games, Nintendo, Valve Corporation