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.

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Here. Now.

I enjoyed participating in Reverb Broads this past summer, even though I didn’t blog as much as I (always) want. When I saw that the 1st set of December prompts were up, I decided to try participating again.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received from a parent and/or sibling? Worst advice?

The best advice I’ve ever received came from my dad. We have not always seen eye to eye, but this was one thing that stuck despite all the teen angst and young adult anger.

Often enough for it to become annoying, my dad (who thinks of himself as some kind of mix between his heroes Kwai Chang Caine and Jesus) would turn to my brother and/or I and ask the questions, “Where are you? What time is it?” Over time, we learned that he was being philosophical, not literal; the correct answers are, “Here. Now.” As a tween and teen, I appreciated the sentiment of this lesson, but it wasn’t until later, when I became an adult and began juggling work, relationships, friendships, commuting, family, living on my own, furthering my education, etc, etc that I began to understand.

Understanding does not always translate into action however, and I absolutely forget to think about these two relatively simple words.  I am always sometimes get carried away with planning for my future, from what I’m having for lunch & dinner this week and how we’re going to tackle holiday shopping to buying a house and potentially planning a family. I’m a worrier by nature, so being HERE, NOW is a challenge. Actually, maybe I’ll cheat on #oneword2013 and use two…now THAT is something to think about.

Worst advice…I can’t say anything has really stuck out. My family is/was kind of crazy, so much of the advice I’ve received over the years  has been less than ideal, but can I really say it’s been BAD? Nothing that immediately comes to mind anyway.

A Memory of Childhood

I know the likelihood of doing this regularly is low, but I want to try to be a better blogger, and I know that I will likely default to more Student Affairs-focused posts without some kind of prompting, so here is another ReverbBroads post:

What was your favorite childhood stuffed animal or toy? Do you still have it? Okay, admit it, do you still sleep with it sometimes?

When I was 2, my great grandmother gave me a stuffed monkey (or maybe I found it at her house and claimed it as my own…my parents’ memories are fuzzy). Apparently I never let Monchi leave my side once she entered my life, dragging her by an arm or leg all over the place. I remember drawing her as my favorite thing in Kindergarten, and bringing her in for show and tell. Even then, she was in a bad place; all her stuffing was compacted into her legs and head, her body and arms not much more than empty fabric.

She’s been with me through it all: my parents fighting, the teen angst and depression, college, moving into my own apartment, becoming engaged and planning a wedding. Monchi was never very good for hugging or sleeping with (the lack of stuffing on a relatively thin frame makes for a poor snuggle-buddy), but she was there, often when I felt no one else was. She is still on my bed, among the pillows; likely upside down or hanging precariously over the edge, but there.