What I learned from one of my favorite video game (spoilers!)

I love video games. Age of Empires was the first game I played on a computer, alongside Tarzan and House of the Dead. I didn’t even play those games on my computer, because I did not have one at that age. I had to go to a neighbor’s house and play there.

When I was 8 years old my parents decided to finally buy me a computer, and that was the happiest moment of my life. I was finally able to play video games all day, without someone telling me when to stop.

One game that I remember playing, and that I played a few weeks ago again, was Gothic 1. Most of the people reading this may not know it, but that’s okay. It’s a 3D RPG Game, made in 2001 that I was absolutely obsessed with.

At that time I only had a demo version of the game, and it was very limited. I couldn’t go anywhere, I couldn’t do much, but man, it was fun. If I didn’t have other games that I really loved, I would consider this to be my favorite one.

I was playing a demo of this game for 8 hours a day, sometimes even more, and while it was extremely limited, I never got bored of it. A few years later, when I moved to Spain with my parents, I had the pleasure to play Gothic 2, the second game, this time the full version.

Best experience at that age. I played that game over 5 times and each time I had as much fun as the first time I played it. Then, after coming back to Romania I got to play Gothic 1 again, never finished it, and a few weeks ago I remembered it, played it, and finally got to the end.

I know most of you are already bored, and I’m sorry if that’s the case, I’m a little excited to write this post.

Anyway, after playing that game for so long, there are a few things I learned from it. I strongly believe that video games have the chance of teaching people all kind of lessons about life. Most of the time, people who really like video games would be more inclined to listen to the advice of a character in a game they really like, instead of the advice of a human being.

That’s why I want to share with you a few lessons I learned from that old wonderful game I played and I love.

How it all starts — you’re nothing. A no one.

One thing that I really like about this game is that it throws you right into the action and it tells you nothing. You have a short intro before actually playing, where you figure out a few things.

You’re a criminal, you’re about to be killed, a mage comes to you and makes you an offer — get a letter to other mages that are captive on the area you’ll be playing, full of prisoners, an area surrounded by a magic barrier that lets no one get out. Once you go into that area, you stay there forever.

You say yes, you’re thrown there, and a few guards start beating you, when luckily a friendly guard named Diego comes and defends you. You talk with him a little bit and that’s it. You’re in the game. Good luck buddy!

The game makes you understand two things:

  1. You’re on your own. You don’t get any tips, any tutorial about how to move or how to fight. You need to figure it out by yourself.
  2. You’re a no one. You’re nothing to no one, just another prisoner. You need to keep yourself alive or die.

And that’s one thing that you should always keep in mind whenever you go somewhere or whenever you need to do something in real life. To most people out there, you’re nothing. You’re just a random person. You’re not entitled to anything and you don’t deserve a lot.

Then the game starts, and you have to go to the nearest location, which is called “The Old Camp”. You get more details about it in the game, but one thing that you need to do before getting there is actually… get there.

You have to travel a little bit, following a path. Now here’s the thing — on the road you’ll find a few things that will help you survive. You find herbs, a few potions, and two weapons — a pickaxe and a rusty sword.

And here’s another thing you should pay attention to. Multiple times, in life, we get something that can help us get other things, or work better. It may be a computer, it may be a certain amount of money, it may be education.

No matter what it is, just because you have those things doesn’t mean you’re the best. It doesn’t mean you’re better than anyone and it doesn’t mean every single person out there has the obligation to give you anything or to be afraid of you.

And the game teaches you exactly that. You have a sword now, you’re the best, right? Well, there are pretty much three things you can kill with that sword:

  1. A kind of chicken dinosaur that is the size of you, but is extremely weak.
  2. A kind of small pig beast that is smaller than you, but is, again, extremely weak.
  3. Yourself by attacking anything else.

Assuming that you finally got to the old camp without dying 3 times already, you’re in here for a treat.

The old camp — You’re a nobody kid

I see so many people acting like they’re the best in the world no matter the scenario. If they do something good, they’re the best, if they do something bad, they’re still the best and you’re an idiot for not seeing that.

And I also see people talking with others that are either older than them, stronger than them or superior in any aspect, like they’re nothing. And then reality hits them. Well, it’s the same in this game.

Once you enter the old camp you’ll see pretty much everyone has an armor or some sort of weapon, and that puts you in a very difficult position. They won’t jump on you, but you can’t touch them either, especially the guards.

Oh, the guards. They make sure you understand they’re everything and you’re nothing. You say something you’re not supposed to say — you’re dead. You try to attack them — you’re dead. You attack someone else — they kill you. Someone attacks you — the guards still kill you.

And if you’re lucky and they don’t kill you, they will take most of the things you have on you once they put you down (literally). If later in the game you manage to get around 500 ores (ores are like money or coins for the game, a valuable trading resource that you can’t get enough of until really late in the game), and a guard puts you down, say goodbye to all that ore, because it’s not yours anymore.

And if you think the old camp is savage, don’t even think about going into the wild. The game makes you feel like a student in a school. Everyone is better than you, but you can still act like a jerk sometimes and get away with it. Once you finish school, and you’re going into the real world, be ready for the strong and annoying reality.

Once you get out of the old camp, everything will pretty much kill you. Even if you somehow manage to get armor or a better weapon, 80% of the things out there will kill you with two hits (if you’re lucky).

So, just like in life, be careful where you go, be careful what you do, and most importantly, be careful how you talk to others.

Do you have something to offer me?

Go out and ask people to help you with important things, randomly. Go out and tell someone to give you their car, or go out and ask someone to teach you a certain skill.

Most of them will refuse, and others will just ask for something in return. Most of the time it’s money, other times they’ll ask for a favor.

Inside the game this works pretty much the same. If you have something to offer, people may give you something in return. If not, either you get nothing, or sometimes you even die… again.

And just like in real life, it’s not always about money. Sometimes it’s about a service for a service. You do something for me, and I’ll do something for you. And the game is just as hard as reality — you don’t get to do favors to everyone, because not everyone will ask you for simple stuff.

One guy will ask you to kill little pig looking monsters, which are easy to kill, others will ask you to kill another person, with better armor and weapon. Or an orc. A.F*cking.Orc. Good luck with that!

I still remember trying to kill someone inside the game, at 2 AM. I was tired, I wanted to go to sleep, but after dying 7 times, it was personal. So I spent more than two hours trying to kill the jerk, and when I finally did it, I felt like I’m the best in the world — until I got killed by someone just a little bit stronger.

So here’s the lesson you can learn from this — nothing in life is for free, at least not something that can help you make progress. Even information is not free, and it’s the same in the game. If you want something, make sure you can pay, either with a favor, a product, or money.

Prepare very well before doing anything

People, including me, love to do things without thinking too much about them. We love to go out without thinking if we have enough money, we love to start businesses without knowing anything about how a business works, and we love to assume everything should just work out.

Well, the game will tell you that’s not true. If you don’t prepare before going somewhere, you might as well give everything you have to someone and say your prays. Someone even tells you that in the game I think.

Going out into the wilderness without preparing yourself (with potions, weapons and armor, or at least asking someone stronger than you to help), means that you pretty much want to die. Since everything is stronger than you at the beginning, not preparing yourself means you are either very good at running or you’re just stupid.

This applies to everything in life. So many people fail at so many things because they just don’t prepare themselves well enough. They don’t read enough books, they don’t make a plan, they don’t invest in important things they may need. They just do it.

And more than often that is fatal for most of the things they want to do. Their business will fail, they will fail the exam, they will lose money, they will lose their car or house, or even a friend or a spouse.

And then they complain. That’s why you need to always be prepared. At least the game gives you an advantage — you can save.

You need to explore

I told you many times that everything out there is able to kill you inside the game. The interesting thing is that you’ll never be able to make any progress if you don’t take a major risk and you never go outside the old camp.

You won’t get armors, you won’t get weapons, you’ll get 0 experience. That’s one of the best lessons you can learn from this game: No matter how dangerous the world is, you won’t get anything valuable if you don’t take any risks.

You’ll find most of the things you need to go through the game while exploring and finishing missions for others. The game even forces you at points to go out and find new things to do, and new places to explore.

So, if you’re one of the people who never tries anything new, and who never takes any risk — learn from this game, and put yourself out there. You need to make progress, and you need to work for it.

You can, eventually, do it

The game is hard, especially for someone who never played it before. I had the luck of playing it several times, so Gothic 1 was decently easy. However, I’m pretty sure anyone can play it, even if it’s harder than most games these days.

The only requirement is to not give up. Even I, experienced in this game, died several times and got frustrated from losing so many things, and from not being able to finish my missions.

But you can, eventually, do it. If you don’t give up and if you keep trying, you can find the equipment you need, you can find the armor and the sword you need, and you’ll get to a point where you can fight pretty much anything into the game and not die.

It’s hard, is tedious, and it’s annoying as hell, but you can do it.

The same applies in life. There are so many things that you can do, you can’t even imagine, but to do them you need to not give up. You can do anything you want, but you need to be prepared for a lot of work and failure.

You need to be prepared to lose a lot, you need to be prepared to work like never before, and you need to be willing to give up sleep and fun in order to achieve the things you want.

It’s never easy. Never. Life is harder every day. The only people that live a decent life, are the ones who don’t just live, but fight for more than just survival.

The end of the game

At the end of the game you become extremely strong, and you have to defeat the “final boss”, a monster called “the sleeper”, which will destroy the barrier that keeps everybody prisoner. You pretty much “save the world”… or yourself.

But here’s a final lesson the game offers you at the end — once you get the best armor and the best sword in the game, you’ll feel unstoppable. Nothing can kill you, not even multiple enemies at once.

Yet, a rock will put you down.

After you defeat “the sleeper”, the cave you’ll be in, will collapse, and rocks will fall over your body. In Gothic 2 you’ll find out you didn’t die, because the armor kept you alive, but still, a rock put you down.

There will be moments, in life, when you’ll feel unstoppable, when you’ll feel like nothing can take you down. Yet, we forget how fragile we are, as humans. We forget that even the smallest thing can destroy everything we built in years.

So, the final lesson of the game — if you’ll ever achieve everything you want, and you’ll feel invincible, stay humble. You never know when someone stronger than you will appear. In the game, it was a rock. In real life, could be a cold.

Conclusion

I love people who say video games are bad and no one should play them, because that shows me how stupid that person is, and I don’t need to lose my time figuring that out myself.

Video games can make people angry, and make other do stupid things, but those are exceptions. Driving kills people, doesn’t mean no one should ever drive again.

I was always stunned by how many things you can learn from video games, and I was always amused by people who claimed the opposite. I learned about honor from video games, I learned about what it means to be good, about what it means to be bad, about how important knowledge is, and many other things.

You can find real life lessons in video games, and that’s wonderful. You can learn things you never had the chance to learn before, on a video game, while having fun!

I know I learned a lot, and I know that I own what I am today to most video games out there who taught me how to be a better person.

If you’ll ever want to play Gothic 1 & 2 , you can find them both on Steam. I really recommend them. I need to warn you tho, you’ll need a lot of patience, and keep in mind those are old games. You won’t have incredible mechanics, and they won’t work as well on newer operating systems.

But if you want to play them, and you want to find out the story by yourself — do that,and have fun!

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I like to write and I love computers. And video games.