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What RPG Questlines Would Look Like in Real Life

Are RPGs and their quests so different from our lives in the real world? Probably not. Let's talk about that.

As someone who lives and breathes gaming, I have picked up a number of odd habits when it comes to how I view the world around me. Sometimes, when I'm out and about running my occasional errands I think of them as radiant quests -- not exactly important to progressing the main story of my life, but a fun distraction, nonetheless.

While doing things like spending time with friends, trying new restaurants or obnoxiously singing Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of your lungs after 4 whiskey and cokes are more like side quests. 

The point I'm trying to make is that, in many ways, we can translate our lives into questlines like in the RPGs that we play, and I think it makes things a lot more fun that way. I'm no longer just going to the gym, I'm raising my strength and endurance stats. All that studying for my programming exam? Just grinding XP so that I can raise my intelligence stats.

There is actually a field of study for this style of thinking, called Gamification, where basically all of the motivators that we have in video games are applied in some shape or form to our day-to-day lives.

[Gamification is] The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.

We see this with apps like Fitocracy, Habiticaand  Life RPG, which are all apps covering different aspects of our lives -- from fitness to productivity -- in ways that feel rewarding for accomplishing our set goals. Apps like these are awesome tools to help us to visualize our goals and track our progress in a way that makes our challenges fun (not to mention a way to showcase achievements and bragging rights).

So, what would an RPG quest look like in real life? Well, let's say that I needed to take my dog to the vet for her annual checkup. This is obviously an escort quest, but the company is a cute dog so I don't mind. We safely navigate the hectic traffic to make it to the vet's office -- our major obstacle/impediment being the crazy drivers honking at me as I (safely) weave in and out of traffic -- and while I'm there, I decide to get her a tasty treat as a reward, giving myself an optional side quest in the process. 

With treats purchased, it now becomes a matter of waiting for the timer to countdown to zero before she's finished with the vet and we can return home -- quest completed and rewards collected -- a healthy, although maybe not happy, man's best friend and a de-stressed owner (knowing his bestest pal is out of harm's way). 

In fact, it's so simple to relate our daily lives to RPG quests that it makes sense now why developers use that specific format for quests -- it just feels natural. Like a story, quests have a sequence of progression. First, you get the quest. It either comes from something you come up with, like becoming a better runner, or an external source, like my dog needing a checkup.  

From there, we have the progression of the quest -- running more in increasingly difficult terrain or getting my pooch to calmly sit in the backseat and hoping she doesn't shed all over everything.

In our daily lives, we are, or should be, in a constant state of progression. Much like my many Skyrim characters, it's not uncommon for us to have a number of quests in the queue at any given time.

After progression comes completion. I'm now able to run better, increasing my chances of survival in the eventual zombie apocalypse, and my dog has a clean bill of health (as well as a delicious rawhide treat to chew on). Completion is an interesting stage because sometimes, the completion itself is the reward. Other times, the completion leads to the reward; for example, now that I'm a better runner, my body is rewarded with various health benefits outside of surviving the zombie hordes in the future. 

When it comes down to it, life, like a good RPG, is more than just grinding for the best loot or unlocking achievements. Life is about the quests, the journeys and the experiences. It's about progressing our stories as people, as players in our present Massive Multiplayer In Real Life Role Playing Game (trademark pending).

So next time you get stuck in traffic or the line at Starbucks remember, it's all just part of the journey. You're on a quest for something -- this is just you getting the experience for it. 

What do your real-world RPG quests look like? Let's talk about it in the comments below.  

Published Dec. 4th 2016

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