“Are you a gamer?”

As a doctor specialising in Internet Gaming Disorders, this is a common question I get asked. Or, like a 10 year old boy I once surveyed, simply assumed: “Aren’t you a gamer?”

This boy seemed puzzled that I would want to know more about his love for Minecraft. By assuming I was a gamer, he believed that I was already an expert in gaming.

I happily admit, I love computer games. I have many memorable gaming “epic wins”. Jane McGonigal describes an epic win in her TED talk as:

“An epic win is an outcome that is so extraordinarily positive, you had no idea it was even possible until you achieved it. It was almost beyond the threshold of imagination, and when you get there, you’re shocked to discover what you’re truly capable of. That’s an epic win.”

Epic wins are satisfying because you overcome the seemingly impossible AND you learn something about yourself. They are good reminders of our strengths. The types of games we play can give us clues to what motivates us and how we operate.

Whenever I am stuck with a problem or feel defeated, I often draw upon my own epic wins to help me. I’ll share with you one of my ultimate gaming epic wins whilst playing: Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure released by LucasArts in 1989.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Adventure Game. Source: LucasArts 1989.

In this adventure point-and-click game, you control Dr Jones to solve challenges and problems based on the famous movie.

Gaming has taught me much about solving problems. Source: LucasArts 1989.

In one crucial bottle neck in the game, there is one boss named “Biff”, a seemingly impossible, stereotypical tough Nazi guard blocking your progress. It is extremely difficult to beat him directly because Indy is so unevenly matched against him.

This classic weak vs strong over-matched setup, requires a different strategy. Source: LucasArts.

Biff was so hard to beat, I recall that even my older brother and his friends could not beat this character and gave up playing.

I had other ideas.

I was so determined to defeat Biff and overcome this challenge that I knew there must be another way. The solution: weaken Biff with a Nazi trophy filled with beer.

biff 1As an 8 year old, I’m not sure what compelled me to visualise a trophy as a drinking vessel for German ale. Alcohol abuse consequences aside, this epic win has taught me many things about myself.

1/ I enjoy adventure

2/ I enjoy a good challenge

3/ I enjoy challenges that require abstract thinking

In many ways, my love for gaming led me on this adventure to Singapore. As fun as it sounds, investigating Internet Gaming Disorders is not easy. Can you imagine how overwhelming it can be to research the Internet? It can seem like the impossible challenge. Working in this field requires persistence, a sense of curiosity and abstract thinking. These are skills I have honed playing games like Indiana Jones.  Games can teach us a lot about ourselves and help us in our day to day challenges. What is your favourite game and what is your most memorable epic win?

Tips on how your favourite game can help you today:

Step 1: Ask yourself what was one of your favourite games growing up (or play currently)?

Step 2: What did you enjoy most about this game? What is your fondest memory? Was it an epic moment?

Step 3: What do you need help with today? If your problem was in your favourite game, how would you defeat it?

Examples of gaming moments that can help you today:

First person shooters: Remember the time you were outnumbered but kept laser like focus on target.

Strategy games: Remember when you worked well with your team and put trust in them.

Puzzle games: Remember what it felt like, looked like when you noticed a pattern in the game.

Role playing: Remember how satisfying your grind was to achieve your goal.

Social games: Remember how helpful is was to talk to your friends for advice.




One reply on “Epic Wins: How YOUR favourite game can help you today”