As most of you have (hopefully) gathered by now, I fucking love role-playing games.
Being a sucker for a good story, there’s just something that is utterly satisfying and empowering about not just watching the tale unfold before you, but to be an active part in your characters’ mental, physical and emotional growth, their impact on the relationships with those around them, and, well, the fate of the world. Without your intervention and guidance to those who hold the responsibility of being the much-needed heroes, they will never gain the strength to do so. Their potential love may never be realized. Existence itself will cease.
It’s all up to you.
Now, when I say that I love RPGs, this actually applies to almost any game with RPG elements and not just the classics. The old Final Fantasy games, the Mother series and basically anything made by Squaresoft back in the day will forever be my favorites and hold a dear place in my heart, but one has to embrace what life offers us in the present, lest we live in the past. Luckily for us, it is becoming more and more apparent that adding certain aspects from classic RPGs to modern action-oriented games just makes them more appealing and fun to play, even to people who never quite got into them in the past.
This of course includes Mass Effect trilogy and even games where the RPG-ness is understated to the point that no one would actually ever call the game an RPG.
Any game that involves leveling up, building certain skills that both individualize your character and make them more adept at your desired purpose for them, and have you progressing through the main storyline while acquiring optional missions on the side that one can take upon themselves to perform, I would consider to have RPG elements. This actually describes a vast percentage of video games being made today, which makes me so excited that sometimes I have to do a little happy dance when I just can’t contain all of my merriment any longer.
The deal that I’d struck with the gods on my 28th birthday notwithstanding, I’ve gotten older. As such, I have had to accept that, despite that I will likely never stop gaming as it is just a part of who I am, in order to achieve my goals in life, certain responsibilities require me to, ya know, not play video games for several hours every day. (This is not to say I don’t still play, of course.) It’s kind of a sad realization to come to, but it’s perfectly alright, and I’ll tell you why:
Life is an RPG.
No, I haven’t gone off the deep end. My sanity remains intact, at least for now. My ability to discern between reality and fantasy, while at times questionable, has not been compromised as of yet. Many times I’ve contemplated the old question of whether life imitates art or vice-versa.
In the year 2000… Researchers prove that life does in fact imitate art.
Unfortunately, the art it imitates is the movie Tango & Cash.
Most often my answer, at least as it pertains to my life and most likely many others, is of course both. While a very large chunk of the person I’ve become has been influenced by the likes of video games, TV, and, of course, books, any form of art I’ve crafted has been directly influenced by my own experiences, especially those regarding my childhood. There is, of course, just one problem with this; most of my experiences before the age of 14 that didn’t involve catching bugs, playing baseball with myself (yep) or running around with the other kids in my neighborhood (all of whom moved away by the time I was about 9, sadface.jpg) were purely from, you guessed it, video games, TV and books.
So, as much as I’d love to assert that art imitates life more than life imitates art in my particular case, it’s just not true. My life has been so pervaded by art that I can only conclude that even the art that imitates my life is, in point of fact, imitating the art that my life has imitated.
My point is, my development was so influenced by RPGs that I’ve often been tempted to write Cecil Harvey and Ness in as references on job applications and Hyrule as my address when I order stuff online. It’s easy to make connections between them and real life as long as you know where to look, and for people like us (I can only assume that if you’ve made it this far into the post, you can relate to what I’m saying) thinking of life as the ultimate RPG can not only make things a little more fun, but be beneficial to us as human beings with goals and ambitions.
Final Fitness-y IV(?)
Out of every aspect of life in modern times, fitness can (and is) probably be the most directly correlated to RPGs in the sense that working out and following a certain nutrition protocol is all about visible progress. To look in the mirror and actually see your own transformation take place, to be able to witness the slow conversion into the most heroic version of yourself is absolutely the real-life equivalent of leveling up.
That wedding that is only a few months away that you’re trying to lose ten pounds for? The bodybuilding show you’re prepping for?
That incredibly in-shape hottie at the coffee shop that you feel you can’t approach because you caught them staring at your beer gut and can’t bring yourself to ask them out until you have visible proof that you don’t treat your body like a big bag of trash?
These are the optional bosses; the dragons on top of the mountain. Is confronting them necessary for progressing through the story? Not really, but challenging yourself with the knowledge that a successful venture will give you a boost in power, some sweet loot or a more developed character usually makes it all worth it. Unless your current journey has sufficiently prepared you to defeat them, you’re going to have to grind a little; this is okay. Sometimes the monsters you fight while making your way through the game won’t develop your skills enough for you to be able to crush the boss and get that loot. Occasionally, you won’t be aware of your shortcomings and you’ll fail. That’s okay, too.
Failure is just as much a part of life as it is a part of video games. The best you can do is shake it off, reload a previous save and better prepare yourself for taking that fucker down so you can hop into your airship and move on to the next big thing.
Fitocracy is an online game and social network that aims to use gamification to help users improve their fitness. Fitocracy users log their exercise activity by selecting from a collection of activities such as weight lifting or running and entering details such as weight lifted or distance run. Points are awarded based on the estimated fitness benefit of each activity. Users must reach points thresholds in order to level up.
Quests and Achievements
The site presents users with quests to perform for additional points, typically consisting of a set of related activities. Particularly significant fitness milestones are recognized with achievement badges.
Dick Talens and Brian Wang, the creators, will forever have a special place in my heart for bringing Fitocracy into the world.
If you’re interested in joining, visit Fitocracy and make an account.
Building your network/friendships. Because it’s already been explained by someone much more qualified to do so than myself, here’s a 20-minute video on the subject:
In a nutshell, what Roman is saying in the video is that most professionals (or, ya know…unprofessionals) in any field will have one specialized skill, much like the members of your party in any great RPG. So, in order to be as effective as possible and change the world, it serves well to surround yourself with people who can do what you cannot; those of whom are masters of the subjects which you are only adequately familiar.
Mostly by utilizing social media, in the last couple of years I’ve met many people who are experts in their particular field, which has enabled me to learn all sorts of useful stuff. It also makes it so that when I am questioned by a friend about something that I don’t feel capable of answering efficiently, I have people to refer them to.
And, of course, they’re just really, really awesome people that I’m glad to have the privilege to speak to.
It’s just a side-quest.
Many people, myself possibly being one of the worst in the history of the universe, tend to become too focused on things that ultimately aren’t worth as much time and effort as they receive.
Gaining a little extra EXP on the side is never a bad thing, and I think we can all agree that it’s nice to take a break from the main quest every now and then; just don’t let it consume you.
Traverse the dungeon, and don’t look back.
You know that shitty situation you’ve found yourself in? Whatever the circumstances, whether you’ve just been dumped like an old taco or you only have fifteen minutes to clean your apartment before some hot young thang comes over for dinner because you were too occupied with a chain of Skyrim quests that just wouldn’t end (trust me, I know this feel), it’s easy to become overwhelmed to the point of inaction. It might very well be tempting to just say “fuck it” and take a nap.
In order to continue with your own main story, you’ve got to fight your way through that dungeon. Every random encounter, every locked door to which you haven’t found the key, and every hole you’ve fallen into whilst searching for the way out are just part of the journey. Without dealing with those obstacles, you won’t gain the EXP you need so you can get the fuck out of there.
Here’s something that up until the point that this post is published, very few people knew about:
In March of this year, I decided to experiment with a somewhat-extreme short-term diet that involved a lot of protein shakes, superfood, fish oil and a few other supplements, and just one solid meal a week. I was fairly vocal about that part with those who would listen, but what I didn’t share with the world was that despite the fact that it actually worked pretty well (I lost 13 lbs. of fat in 28 days with no significant muscle loss), I wasn’t doing so hot. I lowered calories to a stupid amount while doing one of the most taxing workout programs I’ve ever put myself through. I believe this to be partly why this ended up being the beginning of an awe-inspiringly shitty couple of months.
Firstly, near the end of the diet I ended up messing up my left shoulder and the left side of my neck. Talking, swallowing and opening my mouth all the way actually caused pain in my neck. Picking up even 15 lb. dumbbells hurt like a bitch. Not cool.
Secondly, I had suddenly become afflicted with near-crippling anxiety and a bad case of teh sadz. If I put myself in any situation where there might have been crowds of people, I’d start sweating, suffer from heart palpitations and generally want to die. It was bad. Despite being able to play it so cool that no one actually knew what was wrong, I had some dark fucking thoughts.
And, because sometimes Lady Universe is just a little bit of a detestable old bitch that enjoys spreading the ass cheeks of my soul and raping it with her Strap-On of Doom, I was offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience something unbelievably great. Obviously, I panicked about my situation (along with a few other silly things that really didn’t matter) and turned it down. I felt I had no other choice.
But, after spending a few weeks being miserable and just generally feeling sorry for myself while doing my best to hide it from the outside world, I realized that I’d more than likely be stuck in that place forever unless I took some kind of action. Any kind of action. So I did some research, learned how to train around my injuries without aggravating them, as well as doing a hundred band pull-aparts a day (a sweet trick I learned from Joe DeFranco, which I continue to this day).
I started meditating again, taking incredibly long epsom salt baths and reading fiction (any book that involves Drizzt tends to make me feel like taking on the world) and started, ya know, going outside again.
Before I knew it, I was back to being able to lift heavy and feeling like a million bucks.
To give up is to stay in that dungeon forever, which means you’ll never get back to the daylight.
The girl doesn’t get saved.
The world falls to ruin.
You don’t get to travel in a sweet airship.
So pick up your sword and fight your way out of that dungeon.
For yourself, your party, and existence itself.
If you wish to add more RPG goodness to your real life, check out Fangamer.net.
I have no affiliation with them (though that would be pretty awesome), but they’ve quickly become my favorite t-shirt shop.