Lanterns: 5 Life Lessons from A Competitive Gamer


5 Life Lessons from A Competitive Gamer

Firstly, why should you take any advice on life from a loser like me? 


I’m nobody special. I’m not a champion of anything. I’ve failed far more often in life than I’ve succeeded, and my venture into every business I’ve ever put my hand to have sucked, crashed, burned, and failed. 

Secondly, why should you take any life advice from a gamer?

After all, gamers are just kids, right? Games are just games— stupid, right? And what kind of real-life advice could possibly be translated from wasting time playing meaningless games? 

Why and how is any of this relevant to the real world? Who am I anyway? 

Well, I’m a lot of things, but one thing I’m NOT is a quitter. And that’s one thing every majorly successful person in the world will tell you is necessary in order to succeed.

See, there’s one game, in particular, I’ve really been into for a while now. It’s called Elder Scrolls Legends. It’s a trading card game—  if you’re familiar with them. Otherwise, think Poker since the lessons are still applicable.

Here’s what I’ve learned. 

#1: You’re gonna get dirty. 

As with anything you try— a new job, a new hobby, even a relationship, to get anywhere, you’ve gotta mix it up. You gotta get in there and it’s never gonna be perfect. In fact, the military has an old saying, “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”  At the end of the day, you’re going to be bruised, battered, bloody, and more than ready for an alcoholic beverage, or five, for that matter. But what you’re also gonna be ready for, is the next day, the next match up, the next round. Because you learned something, and that something is going to help you start winning. Experience. 

#2: Develop your skill set. 

Once you’ve gotten in there a few times, you learn what you’re good at and what you’re not. You identify the strengths and weaknesses you have. Just like in the real world, you learn what suits you—  office work? Outdoor work? In the game, there may be particular cards I like to play with, but if it isn’t helping me win, it’s gotta go. Get rid of it. That’s the way it is in real life. Identify what isn’t working, and get rid of it. 

#3: Do it until you puke. Then do it some more. 

I’m a writer, so I write, every day, all the time, constantly. I am a historian, so I read voraciously. Sometimes I stop in the middle of reading a book to read another book. What I’m doing is keeping my skills and my knowledge sharp. I’m creating what’s called in the gaming world, synergy. There’s an ease or flow naturality to what I’m doing. I AM what I’m doing. I’m not just writing, I AM a writer, or a carpenter, mechanic, data input person or whatever job I have. I AM that thing. You will see results, I promise. And if you don’t, see rule #2.  Find out what’s not working, and get rid of it. 

#4: Perception is Key. 

In the game, most of my victories come from perception. I’m not always the fastest, or strongest, but what I do have is attitude and a fixed perception on the outcome. I frequently use misdirection and make my opponent see a threat where there isn’t one, or see no threat where there is. I make them respond to what I’m doing. I control the game. Not the other way around. It’s the same in real life. I can have a shitty day or a good one, but how I feel about that given situation is ultimately up to me. It’s all about how I perceive the situation I find myself in, and that offers me the key to the outcome I want. 

#5: IT’S NOT JUST A F&^*ING GAME! (it is, but it isn’t, but never say that to a gamer)

Whatever endeavor it is you’re in, a job, circumstance, or relationship, if you’re serious about winning, succeeding, or achieving the outcome you want, you’ve got to call upon all your skills. You’ve got to call upon your motivation, drive, and the skill sets you’ve developed over the course of your time in the field and the entirety of your being to succeed. There’s no half-assing it. If you half-ass it, you’re going to get half-assed results. After all, this is gaming. It’s serious business. 

Written by Ben Coleman

Freelance author, historian and Navy veteran. Find him at

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