“A game that never ends?” I exclaimed, questioning Ernie, my son.
Ernie was trying to explain to me about EverQuest, an online game which he learned to play in his early teens, and now at age 20, decided to play again.
For those of you not familiar with EverQuest, it is a modern version of the popular game Dungeons & Dragons. The players are assigned a character in a wargame. They engage in adventures, individually, and as part of a party, or guild. In the process of winning battles, solving dilemmas, and finding treasures, the characters advance their levels of skills, knowledge, and ultimately, power.
I was quite surprised that the game was still going on after Ernie quit playing five or six years ago. “What happens when you complete the quest?” I inquired.
“Another expansion takes place,” he replied.
“A what?” I asked. “It means another setting is added, and new challenges are presented to the characters. And with each higher expansion level, it is more necessary to be part of a guild or team.”
Ernie is very animated when he tells me about his battles and the strategies he employed during them. He enjoys being assigned some type of leadership role in the guild. He has also admitted making some poor decisions and suffering the consequences –expulsion from the guild and the loss of his leadership role.
“That sounds just like life, Ernie,” I said.
I used his EverQuest experiences as an opportunity to talk about the importance of having a goal-oriented life, continuously revising our quests, goals, and an expansion of our perspectives.
While EverQuest is a role playing game, it likens itself to our everyday lives. We often face unpleasant events (fighting evil creatures). We must make important, right and timely decisions (dilemma solving) and seek our family, church and community for support (our guild) in making those decisions. Faith, discipline and respect must be followed (the player's rules of conduct). There’s the enjoyment of short-term achievements (the treasure hunt), and the celebration of successful expansion experiences (character development/skill advancement).
I believe a meaningful life is based on aspirations and established plans. But, more importantly, on the accomplishment of those goals and plans. Success presupposes that there will be challenges, but courage, confidence, and a great deal of work ethic will assure the accomplishment of success.
I shared with Ernie some of my “quests” in college, work and life. “Wow, mom” Ernie said, “You are the most amazing woman I’ve ever met.” A conversation that began over a discussion of his game turned into a the lesson for life.
“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” - Deuterenomy 6:7