Life is Like a Strategy Game

When people sit down in front of their favorite video game platform with a strategy game, most likely the first thing that they think about is, “what strategy am I going to use in order to win this time?”. Our lives outside of video games have a similar feel to it for those who care to look ahead in their lives, except for the fact that you only have one chance at it and “winning” is a matter of perspective. Some may think of the simulation game “The Sims” as a better example in regards to our lives away from video games, but if you think about it, even a game like The Sims could be argued to be considered a strategy game.

Let’s use The Sims as an example to start out with. While The Sims is the closest thing there is to a “life” simulation game, there are a good handful of things that people will do in The Sims that they wouldn’t do in real life. For example, when approaching another person for a conversation, in The Sims, you would queue up what type of conversation you would like to have with the other person, ranging from “Compliment” to “Tell Joke”. Most people don’t actually think this way in an actual human interaction and just let the conversation flow as it does. The Sims is more used as a fun way to create the life that you want and do what you want with the person you are controlling without any consequences (unless you consider the death of your Sim to be life changing).

While The Sims is one idea of a way to mimic life, it could be argued that real-time strategy games such as StarCraft have better parallels to our real lives. In a game like StarCraft, players start with a single base and some workers, with the objective of growing their base, training an army and defeating their opponent before their opponent defeats them. The workers that you are given are used to collect resources which are imperative in order to build new structures or train new units. The workers of the game could be considered the bandwidth of humans in our real lives. The more workers that you have, the more things that you are able to do. Similar, the more bandwidth (which could also be represented by free time) that we have, the more things that we are able to do or accomplish.

The use of that time depends on the person, but if that time is used to collect resources, the players will be able to amass more buildings or units. Resources in-game is similar to money in our real lives. If we as humans work hard to earn money, we can use that in order to purchase physical or digital possessions, which could be either for temporary entertainment purposes or used in order to better ourselves for our next steps in life. In StarCraft, resources can be used to upgrade your units to make them more powerful and more effective in the battles that they will fight in, akin to the latter example mentioned previously.

In the bigger picture however, when playing a strategy game, the main idea is to use the best combination to defeat your opponent, while adjusting your strategy based on what your opponent is doing so that they don’t defeat you. The difference between using these strategies in a video game and using your personal strategies in real life is that the “opponent” varies based on who you are. For example, some people consider their job or career to be their “opponent”. After applying and receiving a job, they may realize that they are not where they want to be and therefore they will adjust their life strategy in order to find a new job. Adversely, some people may find a career that they want to participate in for a while and thus will change the rest of their life to accommodate that decision. Others have differing challenges in their lives, such as finding ways to travel around the world and therefore will make decisions that give them the best results for that goal.

Another way of looking at life is as a turn-based strategy game, such as Civilization. In the latest installment of the Civilization franchise, research of new inventions and ideas are completed based on a certain number of turns; the turns of which are considered years. Let’s use the example of the transition from high school to compare this to our lives. When we are in high school, we are told to think about and consider what we want to do with our futures. Some people will decide to find a job in which they can earn money with while others will look in to selecting a college that they want to attend in order to learn skills in their chosen fields. For those who go to college, they will spend years learning new skills which will make them more proficient. Some people will decide after a while that they do not wish to continue in that field and will switch what they are learning in order to follow a different path in life. As each year goes by, that person is deciding what path they want to take in order to feel the most “success” in their life; success being another variable which is determined by the person themselves.

Strategy games aren’t just limited to those of the video game variety, though, and another example of a game that could be construed as analogous to our real lives is chess. In chess, it is important to always be thinking multiple moves ahead before making your move and while not everyone does this, those with a clear end goal in mind will always be looking for the next step in their lives. For someone who is looking to become a political figure, for example, they have to decide what steps they will need to take in order to get from running to be on the ballot to what they are going to do when they are elected into the office. Of course, during this time, their opponents will use different political platforms in order to sway others against that person, meaning that strategies will continuously be changing, but they will always be looking at how the change that they make to their strategy will affect the overall outcome of the game.

Naturally, not everyone will consider their life to be like a strategy game. There are a lot of people who take life on a daily basis, not worrying about what the next day will bring them and letting life direct them instead of the other way around. But many people like to see where they are going to be in the future. Sometimes the decision to make these changes and modify your life strategy isn’t something that happens right away and other times you find out that the decision that you’ve made isn’t the one you’d like to stick with for an extended period of time. No matter how you look at it, though, everyone has a “goal” of some kind that they are working towards in order to feel fulfilled in life and the decisions that they make, whether it be training themselves for a better career opportunity or finding out how to earn the most money so that they can travel the world, change how they achieve it.