How many times have you felt stuck in life? If you’re anything like me, the answer is probably uncomfortably often. Even when we know what our days have in store for us, it is an easy thing to tumble off the path and lose sight of exactly where we are heading. Even the destinations within eyesight become blurry silhouettes on the horizon and we are left fumbling around for any semblance of the path we once walked down. But somehow, we always make our way back to that critical path and move forward with our venture, sometimes changing lanes entirely in the process. I got to thinking recently that real life can be a lot like a video game: RPGs, specifically.
Every human being on our planet starts out with so many pre-determined skill points determined by genetics, many more of which are added as we grow through our interpersonal relationships, educational achievements, extracurricular activities, hobbies, and general interests. These skill points serve us as we advance our Main Storyline: from the early years of education and making childhood friends, to our eventual career paths and lasting relationships with our favorite allies along the way. Our plot lines are full of joy and heartbreak, every new milestone further building upon our own character complexities and individuality. No two characters control the same way or experience the same story.
But our lives are so much more than just one simple tale: they are tapestries of overlapping threads, every string falling into place amidst others to form a unique pattern of our own design. Between the main plot beats we have to complete Side Quests to continue building experience: extracurricular activities, clubs, social groups and events, etc. These extra tasks allot us with some of those precious skills points I previously mentioned, like building our Strength and Endurance stats with sports, Intelligence from reading, or Charisma from social interactions. Our abilities grow proportionately with the time we dedicate to them, so it is important to prioritize our limited time on the areas we value the most in our own story. Some side quests, like a part-time job, even help us earn gold for routinely completing smaller quests and put us in better shape for our next main plot point.
Among the plethora of other potential side content in our lives, we also mustn’t neglect the Party Member Quests to help strengthen our bond with our closest allies. Our relationships with others are some of the most valuable assets we can have throughout the journey forward. Party Members are the people who support us in our battles; the ones we turn to when monsters attack. Oftentimes our friends and family have differing skillsets from our own that allow them to lend aid in overcoming challenges that might overwhelm us on our lonesome. It always helps to have some variety in the party. Boss fights are much less frightening with a powerful team at your back! Helping our allies in their own quest lines benefits all people involved, so it always pays to take advantage of those crucial moments.
Sometimes, though, our quests pop up few and far between. These gaps in questing are what spurred me to create this post in the first place. There are many periods in life where we are simply without a story marker to move forward and we must make do with basic adventuring fare. Our days consist of completing mandatory routine quests, such as jobs and chores, while our free time is left open to pursuing entertainment or other mundane pastimes. But as difficult as it can be to have patience for the next quest to pop up, I try to remind myself that this is when the adventures can truly be enjoyed the most! The Casinos of Dragon Quest. Gwent in The Witcher III. Kicking chickens in Fable. Blasting Frost Trolls off of cliff tops in Skyrim. Running around and goofing off is when many games shine the most.
Maybe you’re reading this at a time in your life where the Bounty Board is full and the missions just won’t stop coming, or perhaps you’re in a lull while waiting for the next exclamation marker to pop up and point you in a new direction. Either way, the adventure is still continuing! Just because you can’t move forward doesn’t mean that you can’t find ways to have fun on the journey. So keep on exploring. Search through every cave and castle along the way. And whenever you find yourself off the beaten path, enjoy the simple experience of playing the game.