You might not like fighting games nor games at all and yet you’ve been playing one since the day you were born. The game of life is a real thing whether you like it or not.
Just like in any game, your life meets unexpected developments and downfalls but you have to keep moving forward. Yes, it might feel easier to compare life to an adventure game, but I believe the best comparison is with fighting games. And the best example I currently have is Super Smash Bros Ultimate — just called “Smash” from here on.
Let me start by explaining in an easy way how the game works. Instead of having a life bar, you have a percentage and the higher it gets, the easier it is to be thrown out of the stage. The goal is to throw the other out the stage limits first.
Now that you understand the very basics, let me show you how similar life is.
Start with learning
Just like in anything, you start the game not knowing how to do anything. You need to learn the buttons, how they can be combined and how to interact with the stage.
Anything you want to accomplish in your life will have to be started somewhere. And that somewhere is at a stage where you don’t know anything about the skills you need. You will need to learn the basics before you can move on and even know what more complicated things you could do.
Perfect and adapt your combos
In any fighting game, and all the more in Smash, you will need to make combos to beat your opponent. One thing leads to another and then another and so on. When you first start, you can only do one or two. Then you expand your repertory and can combo something into various other combos.
As you work towards a goal, you start discovering what originally seemed unrelated skills can compound into something greater, something more beautiful. Try things out to discover new combinations and make the best combos your skills can offer.
However, when a real fight starts, you can’t expect the opponent to just stand and watch you start your combos. You need to react, to adapt to their action and to innovate on the spot.
Similarly, nothing ever goes exactly as the plan was in life. You need to adapt and innovate what you have learned to make it fit the situation you’re in. This, in turn, will grant you new skills and knowledge that you can then push further to outer limits.
Recovery is the key
In Smash, as the goal is to push someone outside of the stage limits, you often end up spending a large amount of the fight’s time around the stage itself. You get pushed out and now the opponent is trying to trap you there so you can’t come back.
Each character has their own sets of tools to recover and how you use them is key. Always using the same pattern will only get you killed so variety is key here.
You can’t expect things to always go the right way. Even after trying hard and learning a lot, you are bound to make mistakes and encounter downfalls. In such situations, be well-aware of what is in your capacity and recover.
The best wins often happen when you are in a disadvantageous state and you surprise everybody with a comeback after all!
Of course, you can always shield yourself to survive attacks. But shields break. Enough aggressivity from your opponent will make them win in the long term if you don’t start acting.
It is important to protect yourself, whether physically or mentally, but it is straining and won’t get you anywhere if you just stand there forever. Take action and try things out instead, only protecting yourself in unavoidable moments.
Slow down for a moment
The moment you start winning a fight, you have control. And what does anybody do in such situations? They decide the fight’s pace. The most typical action then is to slow it down to fit exactly your own playstyle. Going back and forth, and pushing the other to make errors and just attacking to punish them.
Whenever things are going well, we decide to ramp things up. However, unfortunately enough, that often works against us as our body and brain are not ready for the extra push.
Slow down and enjoy the moment. Proceed as you have done and let time do its thing. You can only do so much. You’ve done well until now and can do even better by just being in the present, working on your craft.
You’re going to lose
Finally, no matter how much you’ve practiced, how much you’ve learned, how much control you have, how varied you act and adapt, you’re going to encounter people who simply destroy you and win. Will you stop there?
Life is full of failures. If you let them define you, then you are bound to finding more of those. Change your mindset, accept failure and learn from it. Find what didn’t work out as you wanted and find a solution for the next time it arises.
What about the next one? Rinse and repeat. Learn and become a better human being, a better version of yourself.
Now, will you stand and fight? Life is a fun game and the great thing is that you can never lose if you develop the right mindset.
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Mathias Barra is a French polyglot living in Japan and who has learned 6 languages and dabbled in numerous others. Being a curious child full of wonders is how he keeps on learning and can’t stop sharing about every tiny idea, even non-language-related.