What World of Warcraft Taught Me About Life

World of Warcraft Arts by Flickr user foeck

I wasted many years of my life playing role-playing games (RPG’s) like World of Warcraft, Rappelz, or Baldurs Gate. I spent days upon days of my time trying to level up my characters by doing quests, dungeon raids, gathering resources to level up some or other skill or craft.

The wasted hours running from one end of the map to the other, completing quests, or waiting for other people. The wasted hours having to deal with immature people with overrated opinions on how the game should work. The number of wasted hours…were not really wasted.

Now that I’m older and wiser (I hope), I realise that these games can offer a lot to us, and our youth. I learnt a lot from these games, although my focus should not have been on the games, but real life.

First person shooter games can teach us about quick reflexes and co-ordination, while RPG’s teach us about strategy, planning, and working towards a long term goal. Let me elaborate.

You have to work to get what you want

To get anywhere in RPG’s, it takes a lot of time and effort. To reach the next level you have to complete a number of quests. To attain some gold, you need to gather resources to sell. To attain a new skill, you need to gain further experience.

It can get monotonous and boring rather quickly. A quest usually comprises of ‘go kill some monsters and you will get some gold and gear when you get back’. Over many quests, your character gains experience, gold, and skills that allow him to kill larger monsters and craft more intricate gear.

This sounds awfully familiar to our day-to-day lives. We go into work every day, do the same thing, get some money at the end of it. Over time we gain more experience, more money, and more skills. These skills allow us to perform our work better, take on more responsibility, and gain promotions.

There are no easy achievements

When you start a new character, the achievements come thick and fast. Your first kill, your first quest, your first level up. As you progress, though, the quests become longer, with more experience needed to attain the next level.

Somehow you don’t notice it, but all you’re looking at is the next level. It is par for the course that more experience is needed for the next level. You’re bigger, stronger, smarter – it should damn well be harder.

Bringing that back to life. When we start off in a new venture, the achievements come quick – the first piece of code written, the first product made, or the first sale. As you become more proficient, your sights are set further, and you don’t see the small achievements anymore, only the next challenge.

You can’t do everything

While your character moves up in levels during the game, certain skills can be acquired by selecting them from available skill trees. However, there comes a point when the branch on the skill tree splits. You now need to make a choice. Your character can’t do everything. You have to specialise.

Specialising in a skill tree allows certain advantages and disadvantages in battle. You might be quicker on the draw, but have less armour. Or you have more healing ability, but don’t hit as hard. The choice is important, you and your character need to know what you want to be and specialise in it.

The same goes in life. As we’re questing every day, gaining experience, money, and skills, there comes a point where we are required to specialise. How often do you see a jack-of-all-trades person achieving major success? The successful people know their stuff. They have specialised in fewer skills, rather than learning everything.

Take this with you

Even though I do feel I wasted far too much time on these RPG’s, I still believe there are some important life lessons that were learnt. In order to achieve greatness, you need to identify where you need to go, plan for it, and work your ass off to get there.

[Featured image: Flickr user foeck]