Life lessons from nerdy gamers

Posted: December 2, 2010 by bennettfiasco in Video Games
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve been playing video games pretty much all of my cognizant life.  So when I hear about video games being the go-to scapegoat for violent adolescent behavior (does anyone remember Jack Thompson? Or the particularly interesting spat he had with Mike and Jerry of Penny-Arcade fame?) I clearly get a little peeved.  Gamers, as a community, have an overwhelming spirit and warmth that is often overlooked.  A prime example is the yearly Child’s Play Charity that has raised over 7 million dollars in donations of toys, games, books and cash for sick kids in children’s hospitals across North America and the world since their inception in 2003.

It’s interesting and refreshing, then, to see such a heart felt article posted by a mother of a gamer explaining the mischaracterization of gamers and skills being learned from games that her son may not have been able to learn anywhere else.  Not to mention it’s about Starcraft and Day[9] which are both TOTALLY RAD YOU GUYS! Read on ahead.

LIFE LESSONS FROM NERDY GAMERS

BY GATEWAYTOGOLD • NOVEMBER 13TH, 2010

Day[9]

Since my son took his first breath, I realized that the young ones were closer to God, closer to truth; and my greatest life lessons would most likely come from suspending my beliefs and listening to them.  It was pretty easy for me.  Children’s words and ideas just made sense.  Adults, on the other hand, rarely made sense.  At times my training would get in the way—my training of what a child’s behavior should look like.  But the more I watched my children, the easier it became to see all beliefs as lies.  Children are born wise, not educated.  Children are born spiritual, not religious.  Children are born with love inside; they have to learn to hate from their parents and teachers.

My youngest son is a serious gamer.  It is a label that invokes judgment from even the most liberal adults.  Gamers are viewed as lazy, unmotivated, and self-absorbed. I always suspected that something magic was happening in the gaming communities–the joy on my son’s face told me that it was serving some great purpose, and I’d understand it in time.  Psychiatrists believe that the gamers are programming their minds for war.  I once asked my son about this, knowing that he probably knew more than most therapists.  His answer set me straight, “Mom, don’t you think we know the difference between pretend and real.”  Of course, he did.  It is the adults that don’t know the difference between pretend and real.

For thousands of years, grow-ups have been sending boys off to war playing a life-threatening, insane game to win land or a point of view.  Maybe the game of war has gotten stuck in the male, collective mind.  Then isn’t the sane thing to do to let it work itself out on the computer.  Years ago, I noticed that if I let my kids eat all the candy and television they wanted, they soon normalized on their own.  If I said “no,” then it became the forbidden fruit.  Read on, you’ll see that at least some of these kids might be playing war games, but they are finding peace and truth.  They are watching their minds as they play, and discriminating true from false at a very high level.

So when Sam told me about Day9’s 100th show and how he shared the insights he gained from twelve years of playing Starcraft, I had a feeling that I was going to be inspired and enlightened.  Day9 is the gaming identity of the real life Sean Plott.  He commentates on YouTube sharing his hard-earned Starcraft wisdom with thousands of nerdy fans.  His older brother, Nick, alias Tasteless, is a professional commentator of Starcraft tournaments in the electronic game capital of the world, Korea.  Sean and Nick, like many other teens and young adults, have grown up gaming. But Sean and Nick took it upon themselves to enroll their mother in the program.

Sean admits that his mom didn’t always understand Starcraft.  But instead of seeing a generation gap that could not be bridged, he decided that it was his job to explain Starcraft in a way that she would understand.  After all, gaming was his passion; and he needed to convey that to her.  Now he admits that his unique ability to explain the game to non-gamers came from his determination to convey his love for the game to his mother.  Sean completely accepted responsibility for his relationship with his mother, and he learned the profound power in taking a responsible stance.  He now tells kids to figure out how to share their passion with their parents because when they succeed their parents will be their biggest supporters.

Sean discussed the lessons he learned about strategy from Starcraft in his 100th episode.  Over the years of playing Starcraft, he encountered gamers with more than a few tricks up their sleeve.  But those gamers weren’t the great players.  The great gamers used good strategy and solid play.  They didn’t rely on tricks or gimmicks.  Imagine if the business world got wind of that one—a lesson that few business school graduates seem to grasp.

As I listened to Sean, and as I watched my son game, it was always clear to me that the label of gamer was highly deficient.  These kids are students of life.  They are practicing life in a highly evolved and fast-paced world.  Real life moves too slow mostly because of the ridiculous beliefs that the adults in their life call rules and reality.  Sean described the skill set of a pro gamer as having the “mind of a chess master and the dexterity of a musician.”  Now where can they learn that in school—maybe practicing their cursive writing, a completely obsolete skill, or learning the beginning and ending dates of some ridiculous war that people had no business fighting anyway.  Most modern education is about memorizing and passing tests.  It is about creating conformists that blindly obey authority figures.  Sean jokes that it is a world of “all A’s for everyone.”  But the gaming world is real and fair.  You don’t win because your mother has connections.  You don’t lose because a judge made some biased decision. You don’t get respect because you are older or have an advanced degree.  You get respect because you won.  And, you won because you deserved to win.

Sean says that he owes his quick decision-making ability to gaming because the game doesn’t wait for you to ponder your next move.  And without the interference of grownups sharing their gems of crap with them (my addition, not Sean’s), these young geniuses seem to learn and discriminate with a clarity and speed rarely matched in life.

Then there is Sean’s take on competition.  He recounted a tournament where he played a kid he called the happiest player alive.  At one point, he said he peaked around his computer screen at his opponent and caught him beaming, smiling like a pumpkin on Halloween.  And he thought to himself, “This is a moment.”  This was a serious competition, but Sean was noticing the joy on his opponent’s face.  He got emotional describing the genuine kindness of the community of gamers and labeled his fiercest competitors “awesome.”

Sean conveyed his understanding of win-win when he spoke of a tournament where he had to play his brother in the first round.  That was tough.  He didn’t like competing against his brother and best friend in a tournament.  But clearly both could not win.  In this particular tournament, Sean won.  With tears in his eyes, his brother Nick looked at him and told Sean how proud he was of him for being such an awesome player–no anger, no animosity, and no jealousy.  Nick sat on the sidelines supporting Sean as he advanced in the tourney.  And as Nick listened to the commentators, he realized that he could do so much better; and so he offered to help them.  Without making the official spokespeople wrong, he brought his Starcraft wisdom to the microphone.  Sean was now equally proud of his brother—he described his commentating as flawless and entertaining.  And Nick (Tasteless) got hired on the spot.  Without hate, jealousy, or anger, both brothers won.

As Day9, Sean realized what it means to be in the flow.  He talked about a very difficult match where he felt himself outside of his body witnessing his play.  He heard the words “I’ve won” even before the match was complete and watched as his higher nature took over and maneuvered his hands on the keyboard to the expected conclusion.  Of course, it makes sense that he would have this experience.  He described his idol, FroZ, who he said just decided to be a great player.  FroZ would see another gamer that he admired and simply declare that he would play at that level.  And he did.  He also learned from FroZ that only one person gets the blame for losing, YOU.

Sean understands losing but not in a win-lose sense.  He doesn’t see losing as bad.  He sees it as something to learn from, data to be analyzed to make you into a better player.  You either win or you learn how to improve.  Thus, win-lose is transformed into win-win—a lesson that our world leaders need to learn asap.

But his greatest lesson came from losing his most precious sentimental object, his bunny.  Sean’s childhood bunny was his lucky charm.  Bunny traveled with him to every tournament.  While competing in Singapore, Day9 became very angry at himself for losing a match.  In fact, he pounded his keyboard.  He could not stop hating himself for his performance; and when he went to leave, he left bunny at the hotel.  Then he called to have it sent to him and gave the hotel the wrong address.  Bunny was lost forever in some postal neverland.  He learned from that incident that he wanted to win too much.  He had lost the joy of the game.  He was loving or hating himself based on winning or losing.  And the price was too high.  Forget about his stereotypical, gamer magical thinking (he’ll get rid of that too, I’m sure), he racked up a huge win for the true Self by realizing that competition is not the point of gaming.

I watched Sean’s two-hour video biography twice, and I enjoyed every moment.  I didn’t understand half of what he said as I don’t know how to play Starcraft.  But his passion was real.  I got that, and it was beautiful.  Sean summed it up this way, “I love Starcraft and I love that I love Starcraft.” Wow!  How many people can say that.  His Starcraft community A-list includes the best players from all over the world–talk about no borders.  His goal is to become an ambassador for electronic games in the western world so that they become as accepted as they are in Korea.  He wants to prove that gamer doesn’t mean “homeless.”  Well, given the depth of Sean’s insights and mastery of life, I think we ought to drop the reading, riting and rithmetic and let him teach Starcraft in schools.

For me watching Sean was a full-circle moment.  You see, many years ago, I made the decision to unschool my children.  My youngest son, Sam (the gamer), has never attended school and has never studied in the traditional way.  He learned by gaming, watching television, and figuring things out on his own.  My job was to trust his true Self to do the job–to lead him to whatever he needed or would need in life.  Recently, he challenged three adults with advanced degrees (my self included) to a game of Scrabble.  In his lingo, we were schooled.  You see, instead of being told what to think, Sean, Nick, and my Sam learned how to think, how to discriminate, and how to make decisions. Their pure innate wisdom was not covered by worthless, memorized knowledge.

While so-called successful parents call their sons and daughters lazy and unmotivated because they just want to game, they too might find themselves schooled.  So the next time, you get ready to judge a gamer, think twice, you just might be confusing a nerd with a master.

—–

And for the curious yet lazy, here is a link to the aforementioned Day[9] Daily #100.  Watch Sean’s live broadcasts Sunday – Thursday 7pm PST/10pm EST at Day9.tv

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