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Life as a Game

Vladimír Záhradník
January 3rd, 2021 · 4 min read

A few years ago, I started applying a new philosophy of life. I don’t have it from books. I came up with it myself for my needs. It helps me manage my failures better and make decisions faster. To a certain extent, it is an abstraction of the real world into a simplified vision, which I can more easily explain and justify.

Life The Game

Imagine you’re a character in a computer game in an open world (role-playing game, RPG). In the beginning, you were given certain talents (such as intellect), as well as certain shortcomings (such as shyness). You were born into a certain environment. Someone got lucky and pulled out a card where he was born to wealthy parents, and he wasn’t stupid either. Another ended up in a poor family with ten siblings, and his parents couldn’t pay for a good education.

Everyone is dealt a hand at the start…

The starting line of us humans is different; the world is not fair. I am glad that I wasn’t born somewhere in Africa, but I still live in a relatively well-developed country called Slovakia, and I do not miss anything extraordinary. Even though my parents didn’t have a lot of money, I had access to education, and later it was up to me what to do next. Sure, there are circumstances we can’t control. But we can still change a lot of things if we are motivated enough. It’s very similar to computer games.

I’m my avatar

When you think about it, video games copy the real world very well. And they allow me to think about complex concepts and evaluate the situations I find myself in.

Update: My friend Havran sees it differently. Games do not copy the real world, quite the contrary. If they were too realistic, they would be boring. So imagine it like this: games are inspired by the real world, but they create their own. You can use the principle of gamification in the real world.

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

I am not a fatalist, so I believe that I can influence my life with my actions. Even if something gets in my way, I can deal with it. The avatar works similarly. In the beginning, you find yourself in an environment, and your character has peculiar skills. They begin to perform various quests, and their skills are evolving. What’s important is that you don’t need to fulfill these quests if you don’t want to. You can ride a horse on an open prairie and learn nothing new. That is also a valid option.

How did it start?

I had my first computer when I was eight years old. Video games enthralled me, but not as much as my brothers. I would spend more time trying to understand how they work. Later I tried to become a gamer, but it didn’t work out. I only have one genre left that fascinates me — adventure games. I realized that I would never be a hardcore gamer. Instead, I focused on the real world, which absorbs my time just as well. I guess that since my college years, I turned up a PC game perhaps once a year. My work and real life have become my game. Except that my achievements were reflected not on my avatar but directly on me. How far can I go in this open-ended game?

If I had a linear life in which I graduate from school, find a girlfriend, start a family, and move up the career ladder, I probably wouldn’t need to pretend to play a game. But I started a business.

Dvere
Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

In my opinion, entrepreneurship is the best thing you can do to develop your personality. You are no longer hiding behind anyone. You are experiencing successes and failures. We all experience success equally intense, but what about our falls? If something doesn’t work out for us, we experience hurt. Some people are affected by failure so intensely that they withdraw from public life for years. Thanks to my simplified vision, I can process it more easily.

Detachment

When I approach life as a game, it allows me to detach myself. I imagine I’m still the avatar. I perform tasks and evaluate the result. If the outcome is positive, it makes me happy. And if something doesn’t work out, I try to detach myself from it so that it wouldn’t bother me. I pretend that it didn’t work out for my game character, not me. What can I do differently to succeed next time? It is a small change in thinking, but in many ways fundamental.

Another thing you will gain from such a perception shift is the ability to make quick decisions. I’ve changed my career about five times in those years. I started as a network engineer, later a tester, software developer, and most recently, I’m an aspiring creator of digital courses. Whenever I take such a crucial step, I wander into uncertainty. If I start analyzing the risks in my head, I might get frightened and not even try anything new. But if I’m a character in a game, I’ll tell myself I’m going for it because I have nothing to lose. Again, this is just a kind of detachment. I always carry the risk with me, but it allows me to process it more easily. And it surprises people how well I can take failures and criticisms. And also how quickly I can apply the feedback.

Update: Detachment doesn’t work

After writing this post, I thought about it a lot. I started going through different situations, and I realized that detachment does not work. I consciously thought so, but everything was different in my subconscious.

If I found myself among the people who gave me feedback on my speeches in a supportive atmosphere, I received it very well. It’s because I realized that no matter how critical they are to me, they think well and want me to move on. When I dealt with work conflicts, even though I may not have admitted it consciously, it bothered me inside. It most likely caused that I talked about it with the people around me. And finally, when I asked my girlfriend if she wanted to be more than a friend, my heart was pounding, and I was trembling. It was because I realized that I was going into something that could destroy the friendship we had at the time, but at the same time that something new, more beautiful, could begin.

These situations have shown me that I do not know how to detach myself. However, I still think that if you let gamification into your life and don’t take it so deadly serious, it will help you make your decision.

Will this work for you?

Only you can answer that question. What works for me may not work for you. With this post, I just wanted to let you know what helps me.

Do you function similarly? Or does something entirely different help you? I will be happy to see your comments.

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