Hello and welcome to another edition of Games with Coffee!
This is Part 2 of The Guide on Being a Mature Distinguished Gamer! In our previous edition, I discussed about priorities. If you’ve missed Part 1, please check it out here.
Today, I’m going to share some thoughts on success, failure, the importance of maintaining a gaming mindset and the value experience of any kind brings. I spoke about something similar in an earlier post when I started a brand new position a year and a half ago. Now, I feel that I can expand and elaborate on this further. You can read the original post here.
Finally, I’ll speak of a philosophy that I’ve recently embraced; the notion that the majority of people around you remember the starting point and the end of your journey, not the journey itself. It basically means that only the journeyer will recognize and appreciate the path one takes from start to finish, no one else. It’s highly relevant to this discussion, so I’ll cover that here.
Without further ado, let’s start the second part of The Guide on Being a Mature, Distinguished Gamer.
Failure and success. Those two words are associated with strong feelings, actions and messages for all kinds of people. Growing up, we are told repeatedly that success is what matters and failure is something to be avoided altogether. This messaging is so prevalent, parents are literally doing whatever they can to prevent their children from feeling any sort of failure whatsoever, with dire consequences as a result.
The thing is, we need to take risks and feel failure from time to time. Sure, it’s hard to deal with when it happens, but it’s important because failure is how we get better. It’s how we as people grow and learn. Continued success is both unsustainable and impractical to happen consistently. Furthermore, if you’re constantly successful, you’re missing out on opportunities to learn and grow as a person; success creates stagnation, but failure can provide a new path forward.
Accepting the cyclical nature of success and failure comes down to the mindset. And a mindset I’ve adopted and made my own is the Gaming Mindset.
Success, Failure and The Gaming Mindset
Level 1-1. Super Mario Bros. This iconic level showcases just how accessible video games can really be. As my good friend, The Well Red Mage, discussed in his #magecrit of the legendary title, Level 1-1 was designed in a way to teach players how the game and its mechanics work. It also actively encouraged players to experiment and make mistakes. With each drop into a pit or strike from a Goomba or Koopa Troopa came one more opportunity to learn and adjust for the next time. At the end of the level, players should be familiar with the basics of the game and also should have the confidence to tackle the challenges ahead of them.
What if I told you that that specific level can act as a metaphor for teaching the importance of the cyclical nature of success and failure?
Playing video games allows for individuals to make risky decisions and actively learn from their mistakes in order to win. Gamers play the game, they fail at something, re-evaluate what went wrong and try again, repeating until they pass the challenge, all while never giving up. To me, that sums up what a gaming mindset is.
The Mature, Distinguished Gamer (MDG) adapts this mindset to everyday life.
Let’s say you work in an industry where you engage directly with clients and one day you make a mistake that damages your relations with one of them. The MDG should be able to recognize where they went wrong, apologize for the transgression and adjust for the next time. Recognizing and learning from your failures, like adjusting the timing to jump and land on that tricky platform, helps you to become better for the next time.
The gaming mindset can also be expanded to new things, like learning a skill or starting a new opportunity. If you think about it, when a game introduces a new mechanic, you’re treated to a tutorial on how to use it. It’ll take some time, but eventually you will master it and adapt it to a numerous amount of situations. The same can be said about learning new skills in the real world: one only needs to learn and master the basics before applying them in a myriad number of ways.
Quite possibly the best examples of the above in gaming has to be the moment when Link receives the Runes in Breath of the Wild. The major runes are introduced in the first four shrines that rise out of the Great Plateau. In each of these shrines, Link obtains the rune and is then presented with different scenarios in which he must learn and master the basics of how the rune works to progress. Along the journey however, the game subtly hints that these runes can be used in completely unorthodox ways, like using Magnesis on metal boxes to use as a makeshift weapon, or using Stasis to launch yourself across vast distances. What Breath of the Wild teaches is that, by mastering the basics, any skill or tool can be used to achieve greater heights.
And in the below case, I mean literally achieving greater heights:
What the gaming mindset also does is give the chance to take catastrophe and turn it into a learning opportunity. Because as the saying goes:
What Doesn’t Kill You, Gives You EXP
Before we continue, I have to give credit where its due: I got this header from a post by the venerable Kim from Later Levels! She’s written a great series on older gamers that can practically be a complement to this series: a lot of what she and others in the WordPress Gaming comunity have said in these two posts espouse the attitudes and beliefs an MDG should hold. Check out Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
With any success or failure comes experience that can be used when a similar situation emerges later on. As demonstrated by every RPG in existence, experience is only obtained after something happens, whether it’s good or bad (or from a random encounter). It’s up to the MDG to analyze, interpret and meditate on the experience they’ve obtained in order to grow, learn and ultimately level up.
I can speak of the many, many failures I’ve endured in my near decade as a design engineer. The position itself requires one to be vigilant on the littlest of details and I struggled mightily with that as I’ve been more of a big picture kind of person. However, what I learned and what experience I gained as a designer has helped me in my current role as a field inspector. I’m able to point out fine details on a job site that would have otherwise been overlooked by contractors constructing the space. I wouldn’t have had that unless I failed consistently and learned from the experience that these failures gave me. Which brings me to my final point:
The Journey Itself
“The only person who will appreciate the journey itself, is the one taking the journey in the first place. Most others remember only the beginning of your journey and the end of it.”
So what exactly am I talking about here? Well, it’s more of a philosophy I’ve recently embraced. I’ll give you an example of how it works:
In Final Fantasy I, at the start of the game, four characters with Orbs/Crystals of the elements approach the King of Cornelia. He requests that you rescue his daughter to prove yourself as the Warriors of Light.
At the end, when the princess is rescued, the King and his subjects are overjoyed and they reward you by rebuilding the bridge to the next land.
However, neither the King nor his subjects would have seen the work the four Warriors put in to accomplish the feat. No one but them would appreciate the effort they put into arming themselves, stockpiling provisions and training against Goblins, Crazy Horses and sometimes Wolves until they were strong enough to defeat Garland.
In fact, these Light Warriors endure many difficulties throughout their journey and the people of the world reap the rewards that they sow without truly seeing just what it took for them to accomplish what they did. The most they would recall would be when they arrived in their bleakest moment and when their town or castle was liberated from the forces of evil. The same can be said for the MDG working in their choice of trade.
Whether it’s a design for a very important client, a program or an app to better lives, a service to be provided to help those in need or even something like preparing for post-secondary education, it’s the experiences you take away during the journey that you’ll truly cherish. It’s also something that many people would not notice unless they were paying close attention. Working hard, making mistakes and failing and sometimes even disappointing others only helps to make you stronger and that much better for the next time. Nobody else can or will really see that but you, except in very specific circumstances. So appreciate the journey, accept the highs and lows that come with it and ultimately, don’t worry about what people on the sidelines say. They won’t be able to fathom the amount of work you put in every day without actually being there for the ride.
And here ends Part 2. What do you think? What kinds of successes or failures have helped you grow as a person? What games have you played that made you think about how you process success and failure? And what sorts of journeys have you gone through that no one else but you would have appreciated? Discuss in the comments below, or on Twitter!
See you all in Part 3: Respect, Empathy and Kindness! This has been Ryan from Games with Coffee, always reminding you to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing.