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Monday, January 27, 2014

Learning the Hard Way

Back in December, I tweeted this picture and said I planned to write a blog post about it, but I never went into detail about why (you can only say so much in 140 characters, and I wanted to save it for the post :3).  And now that it’s almost February (o_o!) I'm finally explaining why this moment in a video game held such significance for me.

So. I was playing Jak 3, an fun albeit sometimes awkward action-adventure game. 

The basic gist of Jak 3 for those who haven’t ever played it: you get missions ranging from simple tasks like ‘get first place in this race’ to life-endangering ones like ‘fly through these strategically placed acceleration rings to reach that volcano’ and ‘destroy the KG robot lab…which requires you to stay alive as robots try to shoot/electrocute you’.

Some of these missions are ridiculously easy. You look back after you’ve finished and you’re like, “Oh. It’s over already?” Other missions are…well…'challenging'. As in, it’s a challenge to not throw your controller across the room in a rage of anger because you’ve only tried to complete this mission 15 times and still haven’t succeeded.

I’m the type of person who’ll just keep going *no matter what*. 

When I can’t complete a mission I eventually get frustrated, but I still don’t stop trying. It’s only when I reach the point that I no longer have this dauntless ambition to WIN that I know I’m dangerously close to reaching the limit of my patience…and when I reach this point, I know I need to shut my console down.

This is how I felt minutes before I took the above picture—like a volcano about to erupt.

My mission was to bring down the KG factory using a vehicle. At most, this should’ve been a moderately challenging mission…but I just could not win. My frustration was compounded by the fact that I was a gamer. I was a Jak series veteran. I had  already won  Jak 3 before. So why couldn’t I win??!

And then I saw this:

 Versus this (which is to the left):

…and I had an EPIPHANY. I couldn’t win because I was going the wrong way.

You: Well, duh.
Me: Yeah, I thought it was weird that the developers expected me to maneuver the car through a moving conveyor belt onto a moving platform…
You: …
Me: …

The saddest part: I should’ve realized it was the wrong way *anyway* because I was backtracking.   


Here’s a mini-map of the situation:

!<--------------------------------------- Upper level that I had just come from (! means destination)
|I went LEFT instead of straight...
|__-------------------------------------> which took me along the lower level of the same area.

Actually, that probably isn’t the saddest part. The saddest part is that I looked at the guards on the other side of the gate and thought, “Wow, that’s stupid. They’re just standing there for no reason…” (mind you, I did this TWICE)…and *then* proceeded to go left. Can you say Zoro?? I mean, taku!!

**Side story: I even tried to go  right, which resulted in mission failure. I was particularly sad about that because it was difficult to jump over the railing in the first place...** 

But wait. It gets better. I’d already smashed through about 8 gates JUST LIKE IT. That's why I needed the car in the first place.


Let me just hold this expression for the next five minutes.

All that to say, I could’ve just laughed at myself and moved on (I hope you found that situation as hilarious as I did, btw). And I did, eventually. But it was more than funny.

It struck me that I had refused to accept what was so blatantly obvious, and I was deeply disconcerted because I felt like that didn’t happen ‘just because’, or because I needed to realize I have no sense of direction. (I mean, I already realize that.)

And I felt nudged by the Holy Spirit to pay attention, receiving the impression that this moment showcased how I respond to God’s leading in my life sometimes; I refuse to accept what’s right in front of me, and choose to not only go in the wrong direction, but a direction *completely* opposite. And not only that, but that I choose the hard way—in this case, the impossible, an inevitable road of failure. I don’t listen closely or pay attention, and I suffer as a result.

Even if you aren’t a Christian, please take a moment to ponder this.

Have you ever tried to do something that just would not work no matter how hard you tried? Or that, looking back, you realized the road you took was so much longer and more difficult than the road you  could  have taken?

Think about the advice your parents, peers, teachers/professors, siblings, role models, spouses, etc. have given you. Have you ever ignored it out of spite and/or stubbornness? Out of ignorance?

In a video game, the stakes are virtual; failing a mission doesn’t really impact your life. (Though it might affect your finances if you're a controller thrower.) But outside of games, the repercussions of our choices always reach us in some way or another.

If you can choose, do you really want to choose the hard way all the time?

Sometimes the hard way is inevitable; unless you go through the muck, you don’t understand for yourself, even if you have people in your life telling you the results of wading through said muck. But don’t you think, as you look back, that sometimes it isn’t necessary?

For me, this experience in a video game is an admonishment and an encouragement to listen.

I hope it can mean something for you, too.  



  1. Super good post! (yes I definitely cracked up at the beginning...) and very insightful too.

    1. Hrm...I don't think it posted. If it did and this is a re-post, sorry!

      Thank you for the kind words, snd thank you for reading! I'm so glad that you enjoyed the story and that you were able to get something out of it!!


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