Everyone needs ways to unwind. I enjoy spending time with my sons, creating things with my hands, and playing an online game of grit, cunning, and skill. Lately I worry it’s become a game of letting people die. More concerning, I’m starting to wonder if it’s just a game.
Big ‘Ol Brawls
I don’t play a lot of video games unless my boys want me to play. I really only play one: Heroes of the Storm, and I typically only play one mode: Brawls. Although they’ve changed the name from brawls to a non-gamer-confusing “ARAM”, it’s still a big ‘Ol Brawl.
5 random people are paired up against 5 other random people to fight their way through each other to destroy the other teams base or “core”. The first team to get it down to zero wins.
The playfields are randomly chosen, the heroes you can play are a randomly selected choice of 3. In short, you are thrown into to a random place with random people as a random hero.
Those who are smart adhere to the Heroes of the Storm Brawl Rules. Those who are inexperienced, often don’t, and since you’re paired up with random people, it’s potluck whether you get someone skilled or someone inexperienced.
The difference between the two is the difference between a win and a game of letting people die. The thing is, this is more like real life than a game.
Every Person for Themselves
One of the most important things you can do in the game (rule #2 in fact) is making sure your team doesn’t die. Staying alive is crucial. You do get to revive over and over, but every death makes the other team stronger.
Still, keeping yourself alive and letting your team die is no better. A death is a death if it happens to you or someone else. Yet in too many games, as soon as the other team turns on a player, the rest of that player’s team flees in fear leaving that one player to fend for themselves against 5 opponents. It doesn’t take a math wiz to realize that 1 vs. 5 is a statistically horrible situation to be in.
When this happens, the game is no longer a team-based game, but a game of letting people die. When people focus only on their own survival the rest of the team dies. The problem with this approach is that it only delays the inevitable: a team that plays as a team will crush one that doesn’t, even if one person stays alive the whole time.
A player who’s only looking out for themselves is a player who will lose. A player who looks out for the team is the one who will win. Despite how it may seem in the moment, selfishness and self-preservation are mutually incompatible.
Right now we’re seeing this in real time.
The Signs in Front of Us
A few months ago as the world went indoors to stave off the Coronavirus, we saw the world change. Pollution decreased. Violence all but vanished. Even animals became more visible.
Now that things are moving back in full force, we see a level of tropical storms that are unprecedented. We’re seeing a level of wildfires sweeping the West Coast that has not been seen on record.
There are alarming numbers of natural disasters that are showing up in greater and greater numbers, and we realize we’re playing a game of letting people die. We are the architects of these disasters, and as long as we pretend we’re the only one’s playing, we will lose. It’s only by working together and acknowledging everyone that we can win.
An Interconnected World
For instance, just because you can buy something cheap doesn’t mean you should. Are there environmental, human rights, or wage issues that make that thing cheap? Sure, you got a deal, but did you just run away from the bargain bin while the rest of the team gets mowed down for your deal?
Everything we do has an impact, from what we eat, to what we wear, to how we spend our money. Unless you want to live in a cabin you built with your own hands, make your own clothes, grow your own food, and produce your own energy, you are part of the team. Doing your own thing and not caring how your decisions impact everyone else is a game of letting people die.
It’s Your Choice
I mean that literally. This is not the figurative version of literally that people literally say when they literally don’t get how literally works. I mean, literally – People. Will. Die.
In wild fires. In floods. In tornadoes. From bad nutrition. From lack of health care. From any number of things. Just because you don’t see it first hand or you can’t draw the line from where your action impacted others, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It’s time to stop playing for yourself and play for the team.
It’s simple: when you play for yourself, you eventually lose. I mean, how has this pandemic worked out for you?
When you play for the team, it may be more challenging, but it’s infinitely more rewarding. Do you want to win as an interconnected team through wise decisions or lose as someone whose head is in the sand and who’s surprised to find how much their decisions came round to ruin their own lives more than anything they ever gained.
It’s your choice. Do you want to play a game of letting people die where you know eventually your number will be up, or do you want to work as a team, find solutions, change your habits, and make the world better?