Welcome back to our Git Gud* series! We work our way through some tenants of how to git gud and apply those gaming techniques to real life.
This mini-series will be broken up into the following parts:
Thanks to Fern11 for the idea!
Creativity is something that is innate to humans; we can imagine things that have never existed, and that enables us to create ideas, art, structures, and stories that have never been seen before. Creativity, or the ability to look at things from a different angle, comes more easily to some than others, but everyone’s creative ideas stem from the experiences and knowledge that came before.
Don’t worry, games have you covered. Here’s how to flex your creativity muscle in games, and bring those creative XP points into the physical world.
Outside the Box
As we talked about last time, it pays to find different solutions to problems. Thinking outside the box doesn’t always come easily, but can produce some of the most effective results if done well. After learning what you can from a situation, and trying multiple times to find a solution, sometimes it still just “doesn’t work.”
If you’ve been trying again and again and again, your brain’s thinking process has become stuck on that one linear track, so it’s time to break the brain out of that pattern. Walk the character around the area, peek around corners, approach the area from a different angle; give your character and yourself a different visual perspective. Let the constraints of “establish game world rules” melt away.
Some games reward you for thinking outside the box. I had the opportunity to play the Prey demo, courtesy of a poke by Falcon Game Reviews and in our brief discussion afterward, it seemed like our experiences were much different. I had found some ducts to shamble through, and had apparently bypassed a large area full of jump scares.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution gives players the freedom to come up with as many creative ways of handling issues as their imagination can come up with, and sometimes the more creative ways are the most rewarding, either through unlocking secrets, bypassing something that requires a skill the character didn’t have, or even just the intrinsic or extrinsic reward of figuring out a new way of doing something.
So always try something that’s unconventional. Ask yourself, How would I solve this problem if I wasn’t condition by the thought of “it’s a video game”?*
In real life, we can find ourselves banging our heads against a problem over and over, and in the same way, without making much progress. When this happens, find a new angle. Literally. Just like we talked about in the video game world.
Look at the problem upside down, or from a different side. Consider it at a different time of day, or after talking a short walk or water break. Forcing your brain away from the patterned response will help it find a new – and sometimes more creative – solution.
Sometimes, the most counter-intuitive action is most beneficial: walking away from the problem and coming back later. Your brain will continue to puzzle through the question subconsciously even as you do other things, and will eventually allow a new solution to float to your consciousness. If you’ve ever experienced the phenomena of returning to a problem and the solution suddenly seems so clear and obvious, this is what happened!!
Find a Problem and a Solution
It happens to us all: we all have a type and it just keeps us coming back for more and more. And that’s okay.
But, just like finding a new angle and a creative solution to a problem, experimenting with different styles of play can be liberating (even if sometimes frustrating), and will also add to your Toolbox of Gaming Prowess (™ and soon to be available on a t-shirt).
If you’re like me and you play RPGs, you may find that you prefer one class, and that’s your default. That’s totally fine. I am forever a highly charming, dual-wielding rogue. But watch out if you ever see me play as a mage; I’ll be accidentally setting my own hair on fire. In this case, the simplest – and most obvious – thing to do would be to change classes every once in a while, just to get the experience and to help you develop flexibility as a gamer. New experiences add to your Toolbox of Gaming Prowess (still ™), which can help you find creative solutions.
It can be sort of annoying when a game forces you to play as different classes, and then all that happens is you wind up feeling inept at all of them (I’m looking at you, beginning of Two Worlds II, but if you’re open to challenging yourself, it can actually become a very rewarding experience. That was one of the reasons I chose the play from different alignments during my Year of the RPG.*
But what if you’re not into RPGs? Building flexibility and exercising creative ways to play can be as simple as being willing to try new games outside of your genre. Sometimes a skill from a shooter might help you in an adventure game, or a point-and-click game can help you navigate through a simulation game that involves solving riddles or crimes.
More varied experiences opens your mind up to thinking about things from more angles, which only ever helps in new situations. Simply, more experiences means more learning, and more learning is never wasted.
This is both the easiest and hardest one to translate into the physical world. It seems so simple to tell yourself that you will go out and try new things, and meet new people, and expand your overall horizons, but often it isn’t. When the chips are down, going out and making new friends, or showing up someplace new to do something you’ve never done before, can seem intimidating at least, and downright scary at best.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to go from inside-dweller who never sees the sun to full-out outdoors-person who hikes twenty miles a weekend. It could mean going to a park to read, or to just enjoy the day and people-watch. It could mean lingering at a coffeehouse with your book or computer. It could mean watching a different type of movie, or volunteering at a local event. Even a simple change to your routine can open doors you might not have even known were closed.
That’s the Way the Crayon Cracks
Sometimes, you can be the most creative, innovative thinker and still not be able to compete what you wanted to complete. This is especially true if you are playing with real players. Maybe another player totally pwnd you. Maybe you went back with new knowledge and got totally pwnd again. At that point, it’s time to do a radical thing.
Respect the thing/the person that beat you. You may have “lost,” but the other person was better positioned, or more experienced, or even just luckier in that moment than you were. But if you respect that, you can figure out what happened and try again. This doesn’t happen if you just get mad and start raging.
This can be very hard, especially if the other person seems to be trying to get you mad or trolling you on purpose. But that’s when creative thinking comes in; what new way can you work these new – albeit possibly unfair – rules so you can succeed?
Similarly, we’ve all been the victim of “the cheap shot.” It comes out of nowhere, is totally unfair (in our minds), and just was so completely cheap that we can’t even stand it!
But the same rules apply: get creative.
What caused it? How can you work around it?
Use the rules – even the ones that perhaps the game hadn’t presented – to succeed.
Just like in games, when it gets personal it becomes harder to keep a clear head and move forward. We want to react against the thing that made us lose, or push back against the thing or person we don’t agree with.
But the same rules apply: get creative. If something in life tells you “no,” then that Something has just set the rules. Now it’s up to you to play by them.
To be completely and absolutely clear, there are, of course, sometimes things in real life that we cannot change, and people we cannot win over to see things our way. This is okay. In this situation, getting creative means looking past our original goal and coming up with something that works for everyone. After all, when it comes to solving problems, rage-quitting works even less in the physical world than it does in the virtual one.
When it comes to the physical world, getting creative means ensuring that you are playing by the rules that all the very-real people have set, not just the ones that you have set or that you like best.
As you can see, getting creative is one of the hardest things to do.
But I would say it’s one of the best things any one of us could strive to be.
This is the second part of a six-part series, so join us next time for when we git planning!
What do you think? Is coming up with creative solutions easy, or hard? Has a game ever helped you gain perspective on a real-life issue? Do you tend to play games in the same genre, or do you switch it up? Do you think gaming skills are really influenced by that? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you soon!
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