I imagine the parallel of reality and video game life is nothing new, most likely hackneyed. To be fair, our creations tend to mimic our inspiration and our every-day reality. And this means our games and entertainment reflect on our real world status – that our entire life and existence is just one sidequest after another.
Think about it – what do you do every day, day after day? Wake up, check your quest statuses, fill up on energy, finish some simple sidequests, like make coffee, brush your teeth and make the bed. Then you start work on some of the longer sidequests, like gain skills, earn money, help NPCs (those other people that just stand around all day waiting to talk).
Our hobbies are a whole subcategory of sidequests, designed to distract us from the main quest. Oh, there’s a main quest? What is it?
Not dying, I suppose.
You spend your whole life gaining EXP and levelling up skills and traits, so in the end you can…what? Make little you’s and give them the tools and guidance they need to not die in the coming Apocalypse?
We speak of progress, the progress of the human race. Reaching the stars and distant planets, so we can…what? Mine them for fish and gold and resources to continue exploring more places to multiply and pillage? What next?
Each sidequest is a means to gain or unlock another sidequest. We earn money completing sidequests so we can unlock new equipment or fast travel to different places.
Sure, we have fun and enjoy the journey. Some sidequests are definitely more fun than others. And each day some sidequests are just repeats of slaying the same rats and collecting the same berries over and over again.
Sure, each day is different from the past, although some may feel like someone hit the reset button and Groundhog Day-ed you. And so the sidequests change, ever so slightly.
Each day we have a list of sidequests, a mission to complete. If we don’t have a list of sidequests, or don’t manage to complete any, we call it “unproductive”.
When we get sick, when we get depressed, our sidequests get put on hold, to make way for easier, simpler sidequests. Just surviving, slowly healing. Breathing becomes a sidequest.
And so as we click and swipe away on our devices, sending electrical signals through conduits to databases of steel and electricity, what are we achieving?
Completing more sidequests, even faster than ever before. Getting that dose of dopamine, that hint of happiness, just by looking down and touching a piece of glass.
And so we do it more – sidequests on our device. We do sidequests with our friends, with anonymous people online. We make digital transactions, exchange numbers, increase virtual stats, trade bits and bytes.
Whatever makes us happy.
So at the end of it, we don’t die.
Is there meaning in our sidequests? What do these sidequests achieve? What do they add up to?
What is our main quest?
Save the princess? Prevent Doomsday? Kill the evil dictator? Get the highest score in the world?
We live in a world where we have a new wave of sidequests to distract us constantly, right in the palm of our hands. Is it better or worse than it used to be? Who can say?
At the end of the day, we’re just doing what our ancestors did, day after day – complete sidequests to not die.
Is that a depressing thought? Or a comforting one?
Do we keep going through the sidequest loop day after day, distracting ourselves with one sidequest after another, because we know that if we complete the main quest, the game will end?
If we complete our main quest, the story is over, our meaning for existence is gone, the credits roll.
Or will it signify the start of another adventure, a whole new main quest? Maybe that thought is even scarier and daunting.
If all we ever do can be summarised in our stat page, would we be happy with what we see?
Your Lifetime Stats
- Rats killed: 35
- Roaches killed: 128
- Video games completed: 46
- Distance travelled: 11,578 km
- NPCs interacted: 589
- Sidequests completed: 2,195
If life were but a game, what stats would you be interested to see?
Hopefully your life’s sidequests add up to something significant, something worthy of a video game.
Maybe you’ve even discovered your main quest. If so, stop distracting yourself with sidequests and go complete that main quest. After you’ve levelled up enough from the sidequests, of course.