A few weeks ago, I had an epiphany whilst playing my Nintendo Switch. As you do.
Zelda is one of those amazing, expansive games, a full world to explore and roam around at leisure, doing whatever you want, wherever you want. There’s tasks to complete to increase your status, people to befriend to help find shortcuts, and items to collect to help ‘complete’ the game – some useful, some just for show.
Faced with this multi-layered to-do list, the completer in me set about ticking off the missions. On the way I discovered interesting items, met interesting people, and heard about interesting lands. I vowed to return to all of these and explore them properly once I’d completed the official tasks that had been set.
• • •
As I battled the last monster and finished the final mission, I started looking forward to the free time I was going to have to explore this big, wide, interesting world.
Then, abruptly and without warning, the game ended.
Unlike most open-world games, there was no ‘continue’ option after the tasks were all done, no time to go back and explore all those interesting bits that I’d put off until a later date.
I was gutted. And that night, it hit me. This is real life.
• • •
I’d spent my whole time focussing on the tasks to be completed now, promising myself that when I was done I’d relax and enjoy all the fun-looking bits.
I’d built up an impressive collection of money, clothing, and objects to use later when I had the time, all of which became immediately useless.
And I’d planned for the game to last much longer than it did, banking on more time to do the things I’d put off, not expecting an unexpected, abrupt, and uncontrollable end.
(This is cheery, isnt it?)
• • •
It’s easy for us all to get trapped on the treadmill of life, making our way through the levels and tasks presented to us to complete, the things we’re told we should be aiming for. Good job, high salary, respected status, agreeable relationships.
Meanwhile, we put on hold the other interesting opportunities that come our way – the travel, hobbies, relationships – promising ourselves we’ll give them proper time and consideration once we’ve finished the missions set for us by other people.
The tasks served up by others become our main focus, whilst relationships drift and opportunities are missed. We look back at the items we collected and would swap them all for the chance to start over and explore the things we said we didn’t have time for.
• • •
Of course, the good thing about Zelda is that it’s possible to do just that. I was able to go back to the last ‘save’ I made and enjoy an alternative ending, giving me the time to explore all the things I missed due to my previous untimely demise. I could even start the whole thing again if I wanted to, learn from my experience and play the game a different way.
Unfortunately, we (probably) don’t have that option in real life. It’s a one-time game with no ‘try again’ available.
So probably best to meet those interesting people, explore those interesting lands, and do all those things you’re putting off until you have the time, whilst the game is still in full flow.
Thanks for reading this article, I really hope you enjoyed it. You can subscribe to my monthly update below, and find me in tweet form @johnjsills, in picture form on Instagram @CX_Stories, or in work mode at The Foundation