Gaming has taught me a lot in life. Mostly that I have a strange fashion sense, a tendency to giggle at excesses of violence and a huge AWWWWW obsession with the cute, fluffy or bouncy critters that show up in most games.
But gaming has always also highlighted some of my talents, next to these quirks. Talents that, now that I get to put them in an adulting context – are proving to come in handy more and more.
Because gaming teaches you that it’s ok to step off the beaten path. Hell – aimlessly sidequesting for hours on end in games like Zelda, Fallout and Elder Scrolls is waaaay more enjoyable and satisfying than just playing through the main story in a couple of hours. There’s a LOT of fun to be had when you don’t just follow direction, but create your own path.
Similarly – games like those also teach you that there’s a thin thin thin line between right and wrong. And that being purely good is pretty much impossible.
Because even though you try to make all of the good choices. Even though you try to be kind, and just and honorable at every turn…you WILL see yourself accidentally bashing an innocent bystander…or ally or…even worse…your poor little horse. Man. I constantly find myself apologizing to McHorse in my Zelda game while beating up Bokoblins. (Yes, I named one of my horses McHorse).
But do you know what it is that gaming has MAINLY taught me?
You don’t always NEED talent to be succesful at something. Putting in effort. Hard work. And a LOT of hours WILL get you to the top in the end.
I suck at gaming. I do. My reflexes are shitty – my puzzle solving skills require a lot of revving and I tend to panic when I’m in fights that require me to do a lot of things at the same time. But in the world of gaming – and especially open world games and mmorpgs. That doesn’t fucking matter. I have other talents. Talents that get you far in the world. Whether it’s real or virtual.
When it comes to the art of the grind – THAT’S where I shine. Doing the same things, repetitively, for hours on end…that’s my secret talent. Finding pleasure in repetition, finding fun in doing the same things again and again, finding solace in building yourself up purely on hours of effort instead of skills – THAT’S my power.
Because you don’t have to be great at a game to kill the same monster 20.000 times to loot 20.000 hides to craft the perfect armor. You don’t have to be skilled to run the same route 50 times to find all the secret Koroks and upgrade yourself to the max. You don’t need to be good at a game to excell at it, as long as you work the mechanics to your strengths.
And…as it often goes – that’s much the same in life. It is why I reveled in my work as a regression tester. Running (and perfecting) the same set of tests every damn time to show something is still working as it was and should? Heavenly. While to most people that kind of repetitive, unexciting, boring work would spell certain doom…I loved it.
And that made me good at it. That made me stand out. That made me rise in the ranks real quick, even though I didn’t exactly have any technical knowledge, or supporting diploma’s. No powerful allies or wealthy family members paving the road. By putting in the work, and lots and lots of it – I built myself up.
Just like it takes a special someone to enjoy sitting on their ass for hours and hours, watching movies in a marathon. Or playing games for entire days. Watching sports from the early hours to the late nights or poring over book after book after book. But when you DO do things. Often. Prolongedly. Studiously. Continuously. No matter how you look at it: you get better at it. Hell. You get good at it. Fuck. You get great at it.
It takes a certain kind of person to do the exact same job all day every day. But there is such wisdom AND safety in it. You WILL improve and you WILL feel peace in knowing what’s to come. Aiming for the heavens with a rocket isn’t always doable. Grinding your way up the stairs one step at a time…is. When you put effort over talent and dedication over luck – eventually you’ll still find yourself where we all end up. The top.
Because if 10.000 hours makes you an expert at something – the art of the grind has made me a master.