Yes, this is a post about Pokémon. And you’re going to learn something from it.
So last weekend, some of my friends decided it would be a cool idea to buy some Malibu and Sailor Jerry and proceed to spend the rest of the night seeing the world a bit more blurry than usual. That’s cool.
Other friends in the apartment, though, had decided to do something a little different – have an epic series of Pokémon battles. And you know what? That seemed like a lot more fun than drinking to me. So I decided to pick up a DS and relive my childhood with them.
I’m currently going through Pokémon White right now, and it’s a good mix of nostalgia and new material that makes for something fun to do before going to bed at night.
Judge all you want, haters.
Anyway, playing this game again got me to thinking about whether or not it really was a waste of time. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that maybe – just maybe – there were a few things that we’d all learned while investing years of our childhoods into it. Here’s a list of five life skills I think playing Pokémon actually helped us learn. Now, keep in mind that I came up with this list at 3am, so some of it may be a stretch. Still, you should be able to go home and tell your parents how all those hours of Gameboy addiction actually made you a better person.
Working to catch every pokémon, or at least beat the Elite Four, takes time and dedication. It requires persistence. The game does a really good job at helping you stay persistent by providing periodic and foreseeable rewards (gym badges), as well as spontaneous rewards (Eevee!).
Keep this in mind when working towards your current life goals. Sit down and figure out smaller “mini-goals” that you can achieve more quickly in order to keep your motivation high. Also, learn to recognize the spontaneous, unpredictable rewards that come up and appreciate them.
Networking through a Common Interest
All those Link Cable battles you fought? You might not have hung out with those kids if that common interest didn’t exist. Your mutual love of the game brought you together and helped to break the ice. You might have even made long-term friends because of it.
Your interests may have changed, but the technique remains the same. Networking is so important, and it becomes so much easier when there’s a mutual point of interest between you and the person you’re meeting. So be interested in something – whether it be building crazy stuff or just a certain TV show. Then seek out people who share your interests.
In the early parts of the game, you have to progress using some pretty inefficient means. You must walk everywhere, and fight most battles because you need to train and simply don’t have access to Repels.
As you gain experience and put in more time, however, you began to discover techniques that help you get things done more quickly like using Fly, equipping Repels in caves, and using Victory Road to build levels quickly. You used the experience sharing device to build up low-level pokémon quickly. Eventually you learned the Missingno trick and started duplicating Rare Candies so you could get every Pokemon in your box to level 100.
Don’t lose this skill. Approach your work every day with the mindset that there’s a better way to do it. Find that better way, apply it, and perfect it. Too many people will lazily accept the first solution and never look to improve it. Not only is this inefficient, but it leads to complacency and stagnation. You want growth and progression, so work for it!
As a smart player, you knew it would take way too long to try and do everything yourself. So you outsourced some of your tasks. You gave your Magikarp to the daycare provider in Cerulean City so you could get a Gyarados without having to fight tedious swap battles in order to get shared experience points. You might have done the same thing with your Kakuna and Metapod.
Outsourcing is an important skill to utilize in real life. If you’re hell-bent on working smarter, not harder (like I am), you’ll quickly realize that some of your routine tasks actually prevent you from working on things that are more worthy of your time. Don’t do them yourself! Find a way to outsource them.
Here’s an example: when I was doing my internship this summer, I’d come home from work every day and immediately start working on my personal projects. Since I was living at home for that summer, I was expected to mow the lawn once a week. Did I do it? Heck no! I paid my brother $15 to do my half every time. I simply found my time (and my focus) more valuable than that $15.
Using External Resources to Improve Your Knowledge
Maybe you were one of those kids who actually tried to catch every Pokemon. Now, if you had done nothing but play the game, you would have eventually found out the location of each Pokemon, as well as which ones were absent from each version. However, this would have taken forever. Most likely, you consulted outside resources like a game guide or a printed Pokedex in order to expedite your search.
Learn to do this in real life. I learned this lesson especially well when I worked as a tech support guy; we had an internal database of solutions for all common problems that we were always supposed to look at, but I often ended up looking to outside sources for answers. I became a Google ninja, and began to call Stack Exchange a second home. After I had worked there for a while, using outside sources to solve problems seemed like second nature to me.
Yet, I kept meeting people who, upon failing to find their answers in the provided material, would simply give up and act as if their problems were unsolvable. Don’t be this way; be willing to look outside your immediate surroundings for answers.
I’m sure there are more lessons that can be learned from this game, as well as lots of other seemingly pointless things we spend our time immersed in. What lessons have you learned from your favorite media?
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