Yes, believe it or not, the video game Overwatch can provide you with a wealth of actionable tips for a better life.
I love Overwatch.
I know, I know, there’s a huge danger that I’ve lost you there unless you’re a bit of a nerd like me. But Overwatch is a big deal at the moment. The makers of the game, Blizzard, have sold about 25 million copies so far.
That’s a lot, I’m sure you agree.
What many of this 25 million might not appreciate is that the game comes packed tips for a better life. Life lessons you learn without knowing it. Y’see the crux of the game is all around online team-based player combat. Don’t worry though – this isn’t your average gory warfare simulator – in fact it looks a lot like a Pixar movie.
But my point is that – just like out in the real world – you’re working with a wide range of different people, all with different outlooks and character traits. And the exciting thing is, thanks to the internet, they could be based anywhere in the world.
Here’s four important life lessons I learned whilst working in such groups.
Life lesson number one: you cannot do it alone
Just like in real life, that’s not QUITE true. But it’s true to the degree that you would go completely mad trying to win a game of Overwatch entirely on your own.
Let me explain instead why working together is so important in Overwatch, and in life.
Overwatch, like I mentioned, is a team-based shooter. There are two main scenarios. In one, your team of six has to push a “payload” from one end of a game map (an area that looks like a small town or village more often than not) to the other. You have to stand next to this payload to make it move forward. All the time the other team, which is made up of people like you and me, tries to stop you by eliminating you from the game. The other main scenario is that you and your team of six have to occupy a space in the middle of this “map” for a set amount of time. The other team will try and oust you and take your place.
Imagine trying to do that alone. Trying to deal with so many different things at once. Well we do this all of the time, don’t we, in real life. We stubbornly refuse help either in work or at home, when in reality we’re probably going to get overwhelmed. At work, collaboration is absolutely crucial, I believe, if you want to succeed in anything. But don’t just take my word for it. Billionaire, philanthropist and industrialist Andrew Carnegie thought so too – and all without the benefit of online gaming. He had inscribed on his tombstone the following words: “Here lies one who knew how to get around him men who were cleverer than himself”.
Life Lesson number two – you have a key part to play, so make the most of it.
In the main modes of Overwatch, no two of you are allowed to play the same “character” on your team.
These characters all do different things. Some will run around fast and take out the enemy before they know what’s happened. Others are built like huge “tanks”. Often encased in armour, they will slowly help the team push through difficult spots. Meanwhile healers will make sure the team is safe, rather than go for the glory of eliminating the enemy team.
Just like in life, for one reason or another, you will gravitate towards a couple out of the 24 available.
The temptation is to go off and learn some other character when you get bored – and that is fine. Just like in life, we are good at some things and want to learn others.
But, just like in Overwatch, we should never do that at the expense of those around us and what we are trying to achieve together. When the chips are down, people need us for what we are and at we are truly great at.
Life lesson number three – keep focused … and keep others focused too
There’s a lot to get distracted by in Overwatch. People can enrage you by eliminating you over and over again. Maybe it feels like they are targeting you in particular.
Maybe you are trying to learn to be different – to play as a different character.
These two emotional pulls – to anger and to novelty – have their time and place. But never at the expense of the goal. In Overwatch this is simple – “push” the payload, or occupy the zone in the middle of the map.
In life, however, it can be a little more difficult. Overwatch may give us a clear objective, but life doesn’t.
One of the tips for a better life here is to define what it is you are trying to achieve. Remind yourself and remind those around you if it is a joint effort. Keeping your eye on the goal is the difference between success and failure.
However, getting distracted by grudges or shiny new novelties will result in the same thing – mission failure.
Sure, sometimes you have to deal with difficult people. And you definitely need to learn new skills. But the danger is that life often dangles these things as distractions.
Life lesson number four – don’t blame anyone before taking a look at yourself
Just like in real life, there is victim culture amongst some in Overwatch. If the game is lost those people will blame their team. The team wasn’t good enough. Not like that player who’s upset – they were the best. They can’t believe they were put into such an awful team.
And boy don’t some people get vocal about it.
But ask any expert in the game (there are paid pro players and coaches in Overwatch) and they will all tell you the same thing: the people who blame others the most loudly are often just as much to blame. Maybe more so.
Why? Because they missed one of the key tips for a better life that Overwatch imparts. In pointing the finger at everyone else, they forget to look at their own faults. Where did they go wrong? What could they do better next time? How could they develop their skills to stop things like this from happening again?
We’ve all suffered that one in real life. Either we have to listen to the moans of someone who’s stopped by our office for a “chat” (ie to bitch and gripe) or you have caught wind of unpleasantness directed your way. Normally by someone in your team who doesn’t pull their own weight.
Often people are scared to admit their faults. They think it makes them weaker. But it’s like ignoring a broken beam in a building: if you leave it long enough the whole roof could come crashing in.
Remember that when you are in a team there are often only a handful of you. That means you DO make a difference.
So, when things go wrong, what would you do different next time?