Turn your salt into sugar How video games provide life lessons for players

By: James Neyer ~Copy Editor~

I love playing video games. I learned how to play before I learned how to read. I have devoted thousands of hours to games such as Dota 2, Skyrim and Halo. I have braved the Fargo Deep Mines of Elwynn Forest, explored the desolated laboratories of the Black Mesa Research Facility and gone to war with Ghandi, who seriously needs to stop threatening to nuke my civilization.

I play team-based games. In these games, I have learned one thing that has carried over into real life: remain calm and keep the hostile thoughts from spreading. This may seem like a stupid phrase, but it has an impact on everything you do.

For instance, one of my favorite games has been Heroes of the Storm, a massive online battle arena (MOBA) which focuses heavily on teamwork.

1The worst games I have ever played all involve the same person: Someone who does nothing but yell at others for their mistakes.

Seneca once said errare humanum est, which translates to “To err is human.” I constantly make mistakes. I write the wrong names on cups at work, I forget to lock my door, and I frequently dive too far into enemy territory without any support or means of escape.

Whenever I do these things, people react in two different ways: They either get angry and point out what I did wrong, or they calmly explain how I can improve. The first group of people destroy the teamwork or comraderie needed to succeed.

I have seen it happen multiple times. We’re in a battle, destroying the other team. We’ve taken down two of their keeps, and are pushing hard on their core. However, our Artanis extends too far and gets taken down by the other team. This puts us at a disadvantage, but we can still win if we work together.

However, Raynor has started yelling at Artanis for his mistake, arguing in chat that the game is now lost and he is entirely to blame. Artanis responds by making statements involving Raynor’s mother. Our team devolves into chaos until the enemy team groups together for a final push and wins the game.

Raynor focuses on it, claiming that it lost the team the game. The mistake did lose our team the game, but it was because of the anger that arose from that mistake. We were too busy being angry at each other. Similar things have happened in real life.

Recently, a customer came in toward the end of my opening shift. As I had not had much sleep that night, I was slightly out of it. The customer ordered a grande skinny cappuccino. I gave the bar a tall cappuccino instead. That is, admittedly, a rather large mistake – a grande mistake, if you will.

1
James Neyer is a copy editor at the Newswire. He is a senior Bachelor of Arts major from Cincinnati.

The customer responded by berating the baristas, who responded by harshly chastising me. I understood that I had made a mistake, but when my coworkers disrespected me, all they were doing was trying to release their frustration on me. The problem is that this method never fully releases the frustration.

Instead, what should have happened was the coworker acknowledges that I made a mistake, but instead of disrespecting me for it, make a suggestion for what I could do next time. Instead, by focusing on the frustration, I became more likely to make a mistake. I was frustrated at myself and how I had been treated.

That is where the second, usually forgotten, part of Seneca’s phrase becomes important. This part reads sed in errare perseverare diabolicum, “But to persist in error is devilish.” What makes us persist in these errors is not simply ignorance of these errors, but the focus on it.

What one should really do is follow the advice of Heroes of the Storm streamer: “Turn that salt into sugar, and let that sugar sustain us.”

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