If you’re a long-time gamer, let’s face it – you probably skip a lot of tutorials (or keep hitting the skip button to race through them as fast as possible). After all, if you get a new PC FPS, it’s probably WASD to move, mouse to look, and primary/secondary fire on the two mouse buttons. If you get a new console JRPG, you already know that you’re probably playing a default male character who just woke up with a giant sword, doesn’t remember who he is, and has to save the world from some unspeakable evil (also, the initial cut scenes will take an hour before you get to actually play the game).
Some games aren’t even subtle about the tutorial, anymore. In the game StarCrawlers (http://starcrawlers.com/), the bartender, Doc Sam, engages the player with some conversation at the start of the game, and eventually asks for help getting some spare parts. This presents the player with several dialogue options, including this one:
“Wait…Is this some kind of tutorial? Are you tutorialing me?”
(Doc Sam admits that this is indeed the case, but he leaves the mission offer open, to which the player can choose, “Fair enough, I’ll do it.”, or “I don’t need a tutorial. Let’s get to the real work.”)
In a game, we may be able to get away with this. I admit, sometimes I play a game for a while, then go back and read the manual (usually online these days, although I do occasionally miss the days of well-made, printed manuals), if the game has held my interest long enough and I feel like I need just a bit of an edge.
In the same way as skipping tutorials, we often step into other environments and think that we can get away with doing the same thing. We skim messages from others, scan through instructions, and sometimes decide what we’re going to say before the other person has finished talking.
Real life can be less forgiving than video games, though. There’s less motivation from those around us to hold our hand and keep us on a certain track (versus a developer who is trying to make a game engaging and worthy of our continued interest). That NPC – despite saying that his mission is urgent – will wait on you for weeks of in-game time until you kill 10 rats. However, other people aren’t just algorithms or AI code that we can game or stall to get a specific result from them.
In reality, the easy answer isn’t always the best answer. Even in a video game, we may grow frustrated if we miss out on a key screen. Imagine trying to beat an RPG without knowing how to invest skill points when you level up, or finding out that there was an alt-fire mode in a new FPS…after trying beat a tough boss for a couple of hours with just primary fire. In the same way, speaking without thinking may cause us to lose friends (or, even a couple of teeth). Making an easy excuse to get out of doing a good deed for another person might give you an evening to yourself, but at the cost of missing out on something important in the end game.
Just like skipping over the instructions may make games harder than they need to be, life is the same way. In the book of Proverbs, a wise man put words in the mouth of personified wisdom (you could think of this as the words of “Wisdom’s Avatar”, I suppose).
“Because I called and you refused,
I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;
And you neglected all my counsel
And did not want my reproof;
I will also laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your dread comes,
When your dread comes like a storm
And your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.
“Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,
Proverbs 1:24-28 NASB
It sounds like those who ignore wise instructions are going to be fairly embarrassed.
So, how do we learn the skills we need to succeed in life?
- Read the instructions. Yes, any parent can tell you that kids don’t come with a manual. But, for guidance on how to get through life, what better source than the Author of life? (See Proverbs 1:7.)
- Ask. Don’t understand what your best friend is bummed about? Wondering what is important to those around you? Wondering what God wants you to do with your life? Ask (and then listen).
- Find the experts. This might be a mentor, an author, or someone else who is wise. Sometimes, there’s no shame in looking up a map online, or watching a narrated walkthrough from someone who has been leveling up for a long time.
After all, we have our mission – let’s do our best maximize our achievements on this quest called life:
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15 NASB