The Game of Life

I’ve always subscribed to the idea that how we look at things will determine our attitude towards them, and how our attitude towards them will influence how we will act. I’ve always been told that life is a journey, a pilgrimage, a challenge, an exploration.

I haven’t fully grasped the point of the individuals who described life as such. Perhaps life is a journey for them since there was much to be discovered during their time. It may be a pilgrimage for those who espouse the belief of their deities. A challenge for those who seek the thrill. An exploration for those who dream of adventure. I would like to propose a new “packaging”, a new way to look at life: as a game.

I’ve always wondered why games are very popular for the young, and the young-at-heart. I believe that it is so because of the “high” that it gives when you accomplish it. The “high” is due to a biological phenomenon in which a neurotransmitter called Dopamine is released. This ultimately translates to that feeling of happiness when you finally finish that level you’ve been playing for 6 hours straight. May it be a simple: “Congratulations, you finished the game!” message or a clip of awesome explosions detailing the destruction of enemy ships or finding out that the butler was indeed the killer, games provide one with the stimulus to seek out that closure, and that Dopamine effect.

It is for this reason why games are very addicting. The word addiction, though, has two faces. The one we are most familiar with is that person who, because of playing for two straight, dies of heart failure, or that one unfortunate event where games were implicated in causing two teenagers to indiscriminately kill their peers. Yet there is the other face of addiction that drives people forward, that which does not destroy, yet creates, and that which legends are made. It is the addiction to game of life.

Perhaps it is the impatience of the young man that life becomes a game, a reality role-playing game where the player is yourself and your choices define who you will become. It may sound droll to the greater generations, but when I think of life as a game, I feel that life becomes a series of quests that I accomplish.

When I realize that my life is a giant game where I can do anything, my life suddenly becomes more exciting. The bland monotony of study becomes a quest to learn. The repetitious chores become a quest to rid the kingdom of Oliman of dust and grime. In essence, one is driven to accomplish seemingly boring tasks by the sheer power of the mind. I like to look at every boring task that I accomplish as “experience points” that allow me to “level-up” in my game of life.

A concrete example is my current undertaking as a student of medicine. I find that everything I learn is a step towards becoming a doctor. I realized that becoming a doctor is not just being able to point out the hand from the foot, but in knowing the intimate details of the human body. As such, I and my colleagues had to learn the numerous muscles, bones, nerves, and other intricacies of the hand and of the foot. Many times I have become dulled to the repetitious medical jargon I’ve been reading to the point of losing consciousness as I read. Yet I realize that the more I learn, the better I become. I become a better man by virtue of patience, one that any profession will benefit to have. I have become a better man by the analytical logic of the rigors of scientific thought I have endured. I know I am better now; I have leveled-up in my game of life. A step closer to my dreams.

We fail to realize that the great statesman, the great warrior, the great poet did not immediately become who they are. The great statesman had to pore over libraries of books and had to talk to people of many walks of life. The great warrior had to learn how to clean his sword and to keep his bed in line. The great poet had to learn how to find inspiration in a world where everything that has not been written seems to be written. Yet that which drives them all is that powerful idea that the actions we do today send ripples that cascade through eternity.

I implant this idea to the generation of gamers. Life is a game in itself. The world is the setting. The player is you.

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    For people who love to think.

    Jian Carlo R. Narag, MD


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