Things I learned about life from video games

Death's rich tapestry

Lately, I’ve been playing a rather nifty video game called Sentinel 3 on my iPad. It’s a pretty nifty resource management game – you build towers that attack wandering aliens and earn money to buy more towers with which you kill more aliens. It’s easy to become immersed in the gameplay – it whistles at the stress puppy within me – begging me to poke and slide more towers around the gnarled landscape, as ill-meaning ne’er do wells stream upon my precious gate, trying to get my base. But it’s not all high-school prom, and here’s what the game taught me as I dribbled over it in a meditative / vegetative quadroglug state:

  1. Once you get super rich, compound interest takes over and once you cross the threshold, it’s hard to spend the money fast enough.
  2. It’s hard sitting around accumulating money. Hard as it’s tempting to spend it, and the more you spend, the less interest you get, and the more time you spend sitting around being poor.
  3. You can have all the power in the world, but unless you slow down enough, you don’t get to wield it.
  4. Once you discover an algorithm – a method of repeatedly making money with little skill but perhaps a lot of effort, you can keep cranking the money handle until you have enough to conquer the world.
  5. Cranking the handle is boring after a while, and it would be nice to have a trained monkey do the cranking while you figure out how to spend your money.
  6. There’s no point dying with unspent money.
  7. Putting all your money early on in the game into income producing assets is tough – there’s lots of explodey things that are far more fun to buy that don’t add anything to your top line.
  8. It’s hard to let go of an asset / system that makes you bank.
  9. Your wife doesn’t always want you to be playing video games at all hours of the day and night.
  10. It’s very easy to be consumed by something if there’s a score.
  11. After watching towers spew lightning bolts onto the peons below, it’s much nicer to be the hand that drags the towers onto the battlefield, than the technician loading the tesla coils into the back of the Hummer.
  12. Even the most fool proof system sometimes goes wrong if there’s not a monkey or a fool to tend to it.
  13. It’s good to share tactics with someone else and much more interesting to tackle something as a team than on your own.

So that’s not bad for 2 weeks of part time video-gaming. No sitting cross-legged, no reading books. Just shooting things, and developing an irrational hatred of amphibious monsters.

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