5 life lessons inspired by Super Hexagon

Super Hexagon helped me through some hard times. This is a game that demands a strength of spirit from its players.

In Super Hexagon, you are a tiny blip wading through an overwhelmingly complex maze that never slows down or ends. It's kind of like real life.

I bought Super Hexagon on a holiday sale over a year ago, back when I was unemployed and could only afford a game that was on sale at the time for about 30 cents or so. It turned out to be the most appropriate game for me at the time. My life felt like it had spiraled out of control. So of course, what could be better than playing a game where everything literally spirals out of control?

For that reason, the lines between game and reality blurred. I began to see the lessons in the game as lessons I could apply in my own daily life.

1. Practice

This is a gamer 101 tip, but it's still a good one. Every mistake you make, you learn to avoid that mistake next time. And the more you succeed, the better you get at succeeding.

Lock into the patterns that help you succeed and ditch the patterns that don't.

2. Take a break

When you’re going at a million miles a second, sometimes the most unbearable thing is having to stand still for a moment. Eventually, you're going to have to take a break or else you will fall into patterns of failure. In other words, you'll actually start getting worse at what you're doing if you keep doing it. If you keep messing up at 10 seconds in, your mind may actually be blanking out every ten seconds out of habit.

If you're caught in a negative feedback loop and not doing anything to make your situation better, that is a form of learned helplessness. Take a break.

3. Cope with Fight-or-Flight

You can actually teach yourself to respond better in fight-or-flight situations. Some people take martial arts to learn this. I played Super Hexagon.

It takes a lot of self-awareness and willpower, but you can respond to panic by fighting through it. And I'm not talking about literally getting into fist fights. I'm talking about responding to panic with self-motivation. This may sound silly, but just telling yourself "I can do this" can really help. Self-motivation gives you a sense that you are in control of the situation and, therefore, confidence.

4. Avoid self-fulfilling prophecies

In Super Hexagon, I realized that every time I focused on the obstacles in front of me, I'd usually hit the obstacles. But if I focused on my goal, the openings, I ended up getting through them more often.

In real life, back when I saw myself as a failure, I started alienating myself from my friends. I thought they would see me the same way. As a result, I started losing contact with them, which was the very thing I was trying to avoid.

If you focus on your goals, you’re likely to hit them. If you focus on your obstacles, you’re likely to hit those instead.

5. Persevere

It takes a certain amount of bravery to keep moving in the face of increasing difficulty. While it’s far easier to just give up completely, you won’t get where you want to be if you do.

After a few days of playing this game, I understood instinctually why squirrels run under car tires. The tire and the panic becomes their entire world.

I didn't want crushing failure to be the focus of my daily life. I didn't want to succumb to that same life-ending panic. Luckily, I'm not a squirrel. "Game Over" just means I get to try again.

Have you ever learned any life lessons from video games? Share yours in the comments below!

Published Sep. 27th 2015
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