Look Before You Melee

I am not a true gamer. I have a lot of fun with video games, but I am perfectly content to play on what most would consider ancient systems. (Genesis. N64. GameCube.) Even when those systems were new, I often bought games that the serious gamers never bothered with. Mario based games, or winter sports related things. My low level of gaming skill wouldn’t allow me to enjoy, much less succeed in more hardcore games.

Once in a while I’ll play a first person shooter. (Set to the easiest level, of course, because I suck at such things.) Last night I actually beat such a game on my GameCube. A first person shooter that takes place in World War II. I think the historical nature of it compelled me to buy it last month at the used game store.More appealing than shooting aliens or zombies in warehouses.

It was frustrating at times, playing that thing, given my low skill level. But despite that it was addicting. Not just because of the realism, but because I managed to make slow but steady progress. Progress that made sense in the real world, as opposed to the usually confusing physics of other shoot-em ups.

In other words, I was learning from the things that didn’t work, and applying new strategies to accomplish missions when I played again. I remembered a concept that I’d encountered in a other video games I have played;  if you want to get anywhere you have to remember to play defensively sometimes.

My video game history, pathetic as it is, is filled with games I never conquered, or made myself crazy conquering, because I’d be too anxious to advance. I’d run into every room and start blasting to hell everything that moved. In a boxing game I would basically never hit the “block” or “dodge” button. I would just pound away at the opponents head as fast as I could until he was knocked out. Such a melee approach often would get me quite far rather fast for the first, say, third of a game. Then, not surprisingly, as things started to get more difficult on the higher levels, I’d hit a wall. My characters would die quickly, or get knocked out in one round. All because I wouldn’t take the time to finesse things.

In this most recent game, that charging and blasting was not going to cut it, and I found that out fast. So I had to develop strategies. Sometimes I’d have to have the character wait, and duck behind something. Certain targets could not be reached unless I ignored other potential targets. Worst of all, a few missions required that I let myself get hit for a minute while things worked themselves out in my favor.

Same with the boxing. To win, I had to learn to actually do something other than punch. I had to block. Weave. Duck.

Over the years, I started to think that this approach may have been indicative of an attitude I have about other things. And it’s true; I do have a tendency to want everything done right now. To line everything up, work like hell, and then hope at the end I will have found success due to sheer cussedness.

I’ve learned that just like in some video games, that will only get you so far. To succeed in a career, in life, even in friendships, (especially in friendships?) one has to sometimes fall back. Assess. Go really slowly or even stand still for a while. Forgo one smaller benefit in order to get a crack at a much larger one. Once in a while, it even requires us to willingly take a hit, with knowledge that we will have enough power to get through to the end. In the last few years I have begun to take that approach more often, both on GameCube and in the real world.

Could this change in perception account for my somewhat increased success in these type of video games? Who can say? I can however be certain that it has contributed to an increased success in my life.

But watch out, because I am still unafraid to melee when needed…

Have you ever used a melee approach when finesse would have been more appropriate?


  1. correct me if am wrong but from this article i learn that one has to do more of what they do so as to succeed, to get out of that cage and do sthg a little xtra than what is usually done and that is what i always love, to be different. do more han what other people do and be unique, then there i can succeed. i dnt know if i got it all wrong but that is what i think. u really are a writer Ty. told u i wd learn from you

  2. Thank you for your comment, Agnes. And yes, being unique certainly helps. To use the metaphor from the post, we can hide behind a bunker all day anymore than we can just go charging into everything all the time. Everything in it's time.

    If you are learning from my and my writings, I am pleased to have that chance.

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