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The Tao of gaming: Three life lessons I’ve learned

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You see it for everything these days: lessons learned from being a bit too obsessed with something you love. But really, you can gain experience from anything if you look at it the right way. Call it Tao, Zen, whatever you like (as long as it sounds mystical and ancient), charge enough money for it in the bargain section of your local bookstore, and at least four people will most likely pick up your creed out of curiosity.

Surprisingly enough, as I was thumbing through that very same section, I didn’t find one that pertained to gaming. Something that spans so many genres, interests, and ideas is surely able to impart some sort of profound wisdom on one’s life, right?

Here are three ideas that could easily pertain to anyone’s daily grind through the massively multiplayer game we call life.

 

 


1. Don’t feed the trolls.

We’ve all been there; we’ve all fed them at some point in our lives.

Whether they’re weak to frost damage or their peanut allergies, the troll is a dangerous person in the world. Simultaneously angry at nothing and everything, this person holds the power of the internet in his sweaty, Funyun-flavored fist.

But the troll is not exclusive to gaming; he’s also the person with the "better" life who rubs it in your face, or the significant other who dumped you two years ago and "accidentally" tags you in their Facebook photos with their new, hotter lover (and let’s be honest, they are way better than you and are way more satisfying in bed — according to their blog posts on Tumblr, at least). It’s the person who has to make sure they’re always right (even when they’re wrong), the kid who always kicks you in the shins in front of that cute girl/guy you really like.

While it’s easier (and sometimes way more satisfying) to blow up on these people, you have to realize that they’re doing it for a reason — something that is incredibly insane and unthinkable.

They hate themselves.

I know, I know — crazy, right? No matter how rich or successful a troll is, he probably doesn’t actually love the life he has or what it’s made him into. That's why he keeps talking about his own accomplishments and awesomeness — not because he wants you to feel bad about your life, but because he has to keep reaffirming to himself that his life is, indeed, awesome.

So, when it comes to the trolls? Don't feed them. Don't give them that luxury. Don't listen to them, egg them on, or even get angry at them. Let them flaunt and floss, because on the inside they're most likely just six midgets in a really expensive trench coat. (OK, maybe not, but you get the idea.)


2. It's dangerous to go alone.

They appear in every game, single-player or otherwise: companions, friends, random strangers who give you items for your good deeds, even the friendly shop keeper who gives you a discount just for being, you know, the savior of the world. They're the people and items that you would never save the day without, and they become integral parts to your character's life.

At some point in your life, you realize that you can't go it alone. Friends and family, significant others, even your reliable journal/sword/sub-reddit/gun/guitar that you go home to every night eventually becomes a companion in your everyday adventures. They're there when you need them, they know when to give you space, and they're around when you need a friendly push (or violent shove) in the right direction. Not having those things in is dangerous; try to go without your favorite things or your closest friends for a week and see how crazy you get without them.

It's the proper raid party that allows you to take on that despicable real-life troll, the old sensei that guides you towards becoming the hero (or the perfectly decent person) you were always meant to be, or even the reliable old friend who shares the weight of your world on their shoulders.


3. You only have one life.

YOLO, if you haven't heard of it before, stands for You Only Live Once. It's an incredibly stupid way to explain bad life choices made by tweens and young adults everywhere. This is not about that philosophy because, really, why waste your life by making terrible choices?

In its purest form, though, the saying is right; you do only live once. But while you shouldn't make insane decisions that will scar you physically in ways you'll regret later (really, no one needs a wrist tattoo of Justin Bieber), you should take risks and go for things that will, in the grand scheme of things, make you feel better about yourself.

See a cute girl/boy? Ask them out — or at the very least say hi to them. Want a new job? Start looking and go for it. Don't live your life regretting not making the jump, especially on smaller things like actually going up to someone and starting a conversation. I can guarantee that you'll hear the word "no" more often than you'll probably hear anything else. But you know what? Not once will it ever kill you. (Except for maybe when you hear a bald super-villain say, "No, Mr. (insert your name here), I expect you to die.")

Life doesn't have continues or cheat codes to give you invincibility so you can live forever. Don't wait to take that chance you've always wanted to. Sure, you may get hurt for a bit (either physically or mentally), but you'll learn to bounce back enough that you can try again. Even better, when it works out in your favor it'll be even sweeter.

You do only get one life, but there's no rule saying that you can't make that life badass.

Any additional life rules to add? Put them in the comments below! 


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