What Nintendo can teach us

Growing up, I have played a tonne of computer games.

Further, I played them with the tenacity of a rabid bulldog. I never procrastinated. I never gave up. I kept at a game until I finished every ‘quest’.

As a grown-up, I wish I could bring that kind of drive to my real-world projects. With most of these, however, I am unfocused and give up before I have given them my best shot. Why does this happen?

A video-game is designed such that the game starts off being easy and gets progressively harder. With real world projects, your first big break is often the hardest – launching your first book, starting your first podcast or starting your successful first company are all much harder than doing them the second or the third time.

A video game also has clear goals and constraints – rescuing a princess, the bounds of the screen and the rules of the game engine. Real world projects are boundless in all those respect. The goals often need to keep shifting, and so too do our expectations and efforts, often giving us the feeling of running around in circles.

Now that I am out of excuses, here is the real reason.

A video-game is crafted by a game designer. Designing a video game is an ordeal – one that we don’t really acknowledge when we go around fragging zombies and collecting power-ups. The essence of why I was hooked to games until I finished it was because of the tenacious effort that somebody put into creating them. I don’t nearly invest that much effort into designing my real world projects.

In essence, if you wish to make your real world projects as enjoyable as a video-game, you need to invest the effort to break it down into levels, define your constraints and design your experience.

We could all learn from the creators of video games 🙏.

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