What I’ve Learned from Video Games

Image of the game cover

LEGO Lord of the Rings for Wii
Image from ToysRUs.com

*This post will have a bit of technical lingo, but it’s not important to be familiar with the video game in question to understand the post)

I’ve been playing LEGO Lord of the Rings (LLotR) off and on since Christmas, and am learning quite a few things from it (I have finished “story-mode” and am now in “free-play” trying to reach 100%). Please know that although I’ve never been much of a gamer, I’ve had quite a bit of exposure: by the time my brother died 5 years ago, he had 6 console video games (including the original Atari we got when Nintendo came out & a family friend upgraded) and 2 handhelds.

I’m not good at video games, especially the ones that need a lot of hand-eye coordination or the ability to remember/key long cheat codes  (think Mortal Kombat & Mario Brothers). I much prefer RPG-style games (Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy 1 were my favorites as a kid). Playing LLotR is making me realize why I have never completed a video game in my life: I don’t level-up enough. LLotR doesn’t have leveling as one may understand it from other games; I can’t move to the next stage without completing the basics of the current level, but I don’t need to be a Level 52 with magic & weapons upgraded to 27 in order to defeat Sauron or anything like that. It takes TIME to level-up in video games, something I’m not always good at. I want to get to the end and to the next thing instead of the tedium of constantly battling the minor enemies to actually prepare myself for what’s next.

LLotR is also feeding into my One Word: Here. Now because there is a TON of quests, items to collect, and world to explore that it can’t be done all at once. To complete the Hobbiton area, I need to re-do Amon Hen, the Mines and Pelennor Fields–I need to focus (One Word 2012!) on the task at hand; I can’t be distracted by all the other quests and collectibles. I don’t exactly think outside the box all the time–when there’s a fallen bridge beside me, it’s not always my first nature to try smashing it to get the collectibles that are behind it, or to shoot randomly at different items on the off-chance they will drop something.

This brings me to my final video game lesson:  sometimes you need help, but don’t rely on it. One of my favorite things to do when my brother played Final Fantasy was reading the guide to help him out–I LOVED that thing, and am saddened there isn’t one for LLotR. I bookmarked an online wiki not long after I started playing however. This disappoints the perfectionist in me since I want to do it all myself, but I notice myself relying on it when I get just a little frustrated rather than using it only when I need just one…more…treasure…to reach 100% for a given level. It’s EASY to let someone else do the hard part and map it out–they are experts in their field for a reason, right?

It just might be more satisfying though to give it a go yourself; slowly, attentively, trying to smash apart everything made of LEGO pieces to see what’s hiding there.