Your Life is a Video Game

I want the daily activities in my life to be like a video game that I can beat over and over again . . . or at least until I get bored from that and want to do something else.

But, like some things some of the time I’m far from that ideal and may never get there truly as I believe that the goals in my life are always extending and are related to continuous improvement. However, that is a good mindset to get into if I at least want to take a first step towards goal fulfillment. I see video games as beneficial because it is a simulated environment where you can iterate on the same problem over and over again until you solve it. 

I noticed that when I play video games I am most effective in getting past a section that I’m stuck on by observing something and making a mental rule that would go something like ‘when x happens then I will do y’. Once I make this mental rule then I state it out loud as the environment presents me with the same challenge I got stuck on and I iterate over that long enough until I am reasonably successful and then eventually become unconsciously competent. 

Now, I’ve figured this skill out in a simulated environment. The question for me is why don’t I translate this skill to my daily life. Well to be fair to myself I do sometimes. However, there are some scenarios where I allow my emotions to trip me up and move away from my goals. Why is that? I think it is because it is a subjective experience. When I play in simulated environment I am able to see it objectively because I am not literally in it. Although there are less steps in a video game to complete  a task and there could be an argument for why that is easier, I can still translate the same skill to my personal life and be excited about it improving incrementally. It may take longer than the instant satisfaction that a video game provides, but it is still worth doing. 

The realization I need to fully come to is that we do have a simulated environment in the form of imagination. Some people may debate with you that the domain that we consider ‘real’ is simulated. Although this is possible for me it is inconsequential. The real world seems real to me even if it somehow ends up not for whatever reason and my imagination in my head allows me to iterate over and solve problems to execute in this real world. So, if I take this approach in my head and imagine the outcomes the way I want them to go instead of getting stuck iterating over what didn’t go right and getting upset about it. This is how I can translate this skill.

When I am semi successful in reacting to my simulated environment in a video game I think retrospectively about what happened to determine what went well and what didn’t go well I break each step down sequentially into its constituent parts so I can improve (which if I do this correctly I usually do).  

This point is easy for me to replicate in my life and is actually probably why I do this in video games. I suppose I could be better about following a systematic process. I’m pretty good at capturing the details and figuring out the root cause but sometimes I’m don’t take the next step to do something about it. Certain things are easy to ignore and accept. However, I must be better about following through and always creating an action plan.  

In video games once I define a mental rule after thinking retrospectively what went right and what went wrong then there only are two other problems – namely (1) timing and (2) doing the wrong action at the wrong time. So what do I mean here? 

(1) Timing problem. Some of the games that I’ve played recently involve parrying where timing is important.

Although it is not necessarily obvious how this translates to my life I could see this being important when I am thinking about how to manage a conversation correctly. Or, more appropriately this can happen when I have an emotional reaction to something and make a poor choice only to think about it retrospectively. In that scenario although I may have a good mental model for what to do and can think about it introspectively, I sometimes don’t take action at the appropriate time. I can fix this. 

(2) Wrong action at the wrong time. Most of the time this is just pressing the wrong button at the wrong time or just misreading a situation to then take the wrong action. 

This can be solved by developing better habits and being more observant. Also, when changing to take a different action slow down a little. My life is a little different than a video game in that most things happen slower. Therefore, resolving this problem should be simpler.   

With a video game you can have an infinite amount of iterations over the same task. Although this isn’t the same in your daily life necessarily, you probably do the same things pretty consistently. Therefore, the problems you’re running into are probably the same over and over again. Use your imagination to iterate over these, think introspectively to develop a mental rule (i.e. when x happens I will do y), and the execute that in your real life when you observe it in your environment.   

Your life is like a video game or more appropriately approach your life the same way as you would in a video game. You’ll get more of what you want and less of what you don’t.

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18 thoughts on “Your Life is a Video Game

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