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Leveling IRL


Ding! 
Ding!

I return to one of my favorite topics always on my brain: how is life like a video game? Today my topic shall be leveling up. It’s an RPG concept that is easily applied to real life experiences and events.

I think of age as like your level. At level 1, you don’t have much. You’ve got crappy starting equipment, no money, no concept of money yet. You’re still figuring out the system, how everything works. By level 5, stuff is either really easy or really hard. You’ve gotten an idea of how to do what you want. You may struggle with not having much in the way of equipment or money, which makes the little things matter that much more. There are probably more un-interactive or static cutscenes than you’d like and than you’ll probably remember later.

 In your 20’s, you look back at where you’ve come from and realize how little you’ve really accomplished in the grand scheme. You gain experience in lots of little ways, and sometimes in leaps and bounds. Nothing is quite as hard as it seems, but you don’t really realize that until something harder comes at you. At 25, you may not be sure yet who will be permanent party members or who will just be cameo characters. The plot is still kind of a mystery.

I’ll have to reserve my judgment on the next levels until I reach them myself, but based on this game logic your middle age levels have some pros and cons. You’ve finally made some money and traveled a bit. You may have some nice transportation (like a 1972 Mercedes Airship in metallic mint green) and a fully furnished house (somewhere to keep all that loot with easy access to merchants). But whether you’re living in Tenpenny Towers or the shack in the Imperial City, it doesn’t change the fact that you’ll be facing tougher challenges than when you were lower level. More boss fights (that may, for example, kill you and cause you to restart) and more minions to deal with (middle management-types have a 50% weakness to fire), but more experience with your chosen profession/class and more .

 The plot may be thickening, with family or work, or it may be dragging on as the game gives you a chance to catch up on some exploration and leveling. You may have invested energy in leveling characters who leave halfway through the game for some ill-defined reason. You’ll probably never reach level 100 unless you power level, which isn’t really much fun all the time. Some people obsess over it (see healthy foods, exercise, or good genes/character class). And no one really knows when they’ll finish the game. It may be after power training all your Pokemon to level 75 to beat the Elite Four. You may have an idea based on the plot and other cues that the final boss fight is coming, and the game will end soon. Or the game may never really end; like so many plotlines in life, you may keep going back to them even after you think they’re done.

 I realize there are a few problems with this extended metaphor. There are many guides to life, but no one’s quite gotten them right yet, no matter what they claim. The Konami Code will not help you; you can’t really cheat to get ahead, beyond a basic gold glitch or item dupe. Spoilers are actually a good thing; if you have an idea of what’s coming based on others’ experiences, you have a better chance at surviving. You don’t really have as much control over party members’ actions as you might like. And, finally, sometimes level doesn’t really matter. Sometimes you get pwned by a boss half your level, or get lucky and beat one twice yours. Sometimes you need to rely on your Luck, or Personality, or Defense, to get you through. And at the end of the day, you never really know which level up will be your last, so you should try to enjoy every single level. Ding!

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