There are a handful of things I excel at in video games that I struggle with in real life. Here is my story.
Looking for Things
I can spend hours looking for things in games. I’ll search every corner, nook, cranny, drawer, wardrobe, desk, chest, closet, basement, car, crate, vending machine, computer and body for any item, regardless of how important its acquisition is to my character’s advancement. In real life, if I have to look for a specific shirt, I wear a different shirt. If I can’t find where I stored the new tube of toothpaste, I buy another tube of toothpaste. When I leave behind my water bottle for the twelfth time, I buy my thirteenth water bottle.
All players should have the ability to run in games. Commander Shepard in Mass Effect couldn’t run. That was annoying and has, no doubt, prevented more replays of that game than just my own. In real life, I would be the first to die. Not only am I unable to run very far, I hate every second of it. In grad school, I ran for several months before I realized how angry it made me. There was no release of aggression, just a massive surge of it. I love the freedom of running and jumping in games. That does not translate to real life.
I will save every last scrap of gold to buy that one item I want, whether it’s a weapon, a property, a piece of armor, crafting equipment, upgrades, a car, or whatever. I save currency, resources, potions, upgrades, almost to a fault. Not true in real life. I save some cash, yes, because if I’m lucky enough to retire, it’d be cool to not be broke then too. Games and electronics take vast amounts of my cash reserves. And I’m okay with that, mostly.
Making Passionate Impromptu Speeches
So fabulous at this in games. I’ve pumped up so many armies and forces before battle, leading them to glory. I’ve saved people with my words. I’ve prevented crimes, encouraged happiness, soothed nerves, calmed the grieving and cut down the arrogant. I’ve inspired good and defeated evil, all with my words in games. I’m not as great at this when it comes to real life. I tend to say things wrong, and my words get all twisted when I’m on the spot. I’m fine if I have the time to plan, but that’s not very impromptu now, is it?
I can keep a handle on my inventory. Perhaps this is one reason I disklike playing survival horror, where resource management is often the only way to beat the game… to say I struggle with organization is like saying the Pope is a bit religious. My desk is a disaster (although far, far, far from the worst, I’m happy to say), my house is more or less a mess (I haven’t unpacked from a trip I took two weeks ago), and the only way I can manage to pay bills on time is by doing auto-pay. In many ways, I’m horrible at being an adult.
Let’s just leave this one alone.
There are times I’ve died in horrible situations; for instance, you and that boss are both one hit away from ending a 20-minute battle and the boss strikes first. Or, deaths in games like X-COM are brutal, where dead means dead. I came dangerously close to losing my hardcore wizard in Diablo 3 at level 69 ½ (the goal is 70). But, you know, I can just play again. It might not be quite the same experience, and you might not get all the same gear on the second play-through, but you get to try again. In real life, I’ve lost friends, family, colleagues and pets. It always sucks, as I imagine you know.
Let’s face it: I’m horrible at following directions in and out of games.
Emily Reese is an on-air host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio. She is also the host and producer for Top Score, Classical MPR’s podcast about video game soundtracks, and created MPR’s Listening to Learn series. She earned an undergrad certificate in music education and jazz studies from the University of Colorado — Boulder, and a Master’s degree in music theory from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Emily lives in Twin Cities with her cat June Bug and loves gaming, with or without friends.