Real Time Strategy Games: A Metaphor for Life

Real Time Strategy (RTS) games were all the rage in the 90s and early 2000s. Sadly, they have mostly faded into obscurity, maybe with the exception of Starcraft II. Age of Empires is coming back with all three being remade as well as the release of a fourth but I don't think the genre will be as popular as it was. Rip.


It's a damn shame, too. Aside from being an excellent genre of games, it also taught an entire generation of gamers multitasking and life skills. The latest generation of little bastards has been raised on a steady diet of shooters - probably (I don't play new games) - basically the useless junk food of the gaming world. While it's fun, it teaches the player nothing. Players who prefer Battlefield at-least get lessons on the value of teamwork, but that is still nothing compared to what RTS games bring to the table. Let's use the RTS game Age of Mythology as an example, since it was my favorite growing up. The basic concept of the game is simple; you were to use one of three ancient civilizations (Greek, Norse or Egyptian) to annihilate the other player. That's it. The concept of the game may be simple, but the means of achieving that objective is far from it.

In order to be successful, the player must balance resource gathering, building military might, and expanding the empire (raising buildings and securing land). Failure in any one of the three led to eventual failure. Any player that cannot balance the three could never be victorious. An element could not be ignored, not even for a minute, so the player had to constantly go back and forth, managing every aspect of their empire in a complex juggling act.

When you think about it, RTS games, with their juggling acts, are an excellent metaphor for life. Only those who balance their work, home and social lives can be truly successful in life. The lesson isn't as brutal as in RTS games, but in life, if one ignores one of the three elements, they miss out on a whole lot of the experience.

Further, the effects of ignoring aspects of your life are directly linked and are not always immediate. Not caring about university when you're in high school may not matter while you're in high school, but you'll see what happens when high school comes to a close. You'll also see your friends get into uni and meet new people while you're left behind, and because of your lack of a University education, you'll most likely find it harder to obtain good employment, making it much harder to find a mate. Right there, all three aspects of your life were effected in a negative way because you ignored *one*.

In life, all three aspects don't always come about at the same time or in the same way. When you're young, home life consists of relations with the people you live with, as well as going to school. Most of the time, these people are you're parents and your siblings, and maintaining your home life is very easy when you're young, because you don't have to do much, really. Do some chores to keep your parents happy, don't burn down your brother's room and everything will go fine.

The difference between a kid's and an adult's home life is like the difference between day and night. An adult needs to spend time with spouse and kids and take care of other "home life" things while also leaving time for the other two aspects of life (work and social). Here, home life takes a fair amount of work while as a kid it took virtually no work at all. The work life of an adult isn't the same in different stages of life, either. While young, work life consists of school and maybe a part-time job when you're a little older. When compared with the full-blown career of an adult, that workload sounds like a picnic in a field of boobs.

The social life is different to the other two, in that it starts off strong as a teenager and starts to decline as one enters adulthood. When you're young, the requirements for friendship are "be in the vicinity" and those relationships are extremely easy to maintain because of a lack of time constraints and other factors. As you age, however, the requirements of friendship become more strict and what relationships are left become harder to maintain. So while you have less friends during adulthood, those few relationships are harder to maintain than the multitude of friends you had in your youth. It's not all doom and gloom though. Harsher friendship requirements mean that what friends you do have are going to be all round better friends, as opposed to the people in school who only liked you because of your shiny bike (or car).

A balancing act, whether in Age of Mythology or life, can be a difficult - but rewarding - one to constantly maintain. Make sure you have your house in order before you head off to bed each night, and it will pay big dividends in the long run. If you can successfully balance home-life, work and a social life, you will have more money and a better relationship with friends and family for years to come. Get on it.

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