Casually Hardcore: Classification

Gaming TrinityI think that we can all learn a lesson from games with a class system. As I write this, having been influenced by growing up in the United States, I have been continually told that any avenue in life is open to me and ready to be accomplished with a little hard work and determination.

This is simply untrue.

There are many things in life that I will never be able to be; whether they relate to a skill that I, no matter how hard I try, will be able to improve substantially, or possibly I am not physiologically inclined toward them. The fact of the matter is, not every grand dream of the future that I might have could possibly become realized.

This is where the class systems of games come in. Often referred to as the “Holy Trinity” of games, there are usually the three types of classes that you can choose: a dps (damage per second), with the goal of dishing out as much damage in as little time as possible; a tank, with the focus of drawing the enemy’s attention to protect your fellow players; and finally, a healer, whose aim is to keep the group alive when they are faced with the brutal onslaught of the enemy. There are certainly subsets of these classes. Some may be more oriented toward controlling the flow of the battle, some might be capable of outputting incredible damage at the cost of their own survivability, and some may provide excellent group support but neither heal nor deal damage as effectively as others. The point is, there are different niches available to players within a class system that appeal to different types of play that might be desired.

Let’s face it, some people can heal, and some people are better off not being burdened with the task of keeping everyone alive. Having played my fair share of massively multiplayer games, I can attest to being in a group with some people that chose a class that really does not fit them. I nearly always play a healer type, and can certainly say that when it comes to me playing an upfront, melee dps, I am pretty hopeless. I just don’t do well with it. I would much prefer to have the comfort of replenishing the life force of dying comrades, something that for me is relatively easy and fun. Although there is certainly the option out there to play whichever class you’d like, not everyone is going to have the innate ability to do so effectively. With a class system, you can play something that you will be able to shine at, while someone else can shine in a role that you cannot as readily fill.

Now, how does this relate to the preamble of learning a lesson from a class system? I am currently a university student, and am thus burdened with the choice of finding a field that I want to go into, that might possibly be what I would do for the rest of my life. I can’t help but analogize this to picking a class in a game. On the one hand, I can choose a field that currently has a good outlook – that is in high demand; or, I can go into something that I truly have a passion for, and will be much happier doing. Isn’t this a similar situation to, for example, having a guild that needs to have a certain type of class? You could, certainly, create that new class to fill the need, but there might always be that feeling that you aren’t quite enjoying it as much as if you were playing what you loved and what you excelled at. Sure, you will learn the nuances and tricks to the class, but it may not ever quite reach the level of enjoyment and fulfillment as your true calling.

My metaphor may not translate perfectly from one medium to another, but it begs the question: is telling a society that an individual should be well rounded and future-focused take precedence over going into a field that can genuinely bring fulfillment and satisfaction day after day, regardless of the current outlook?

I don’t think so, and in fact, I think that we are all better off to specialize into what we are best at. I think there is a lesson to be learned from games, in that not everyone is going to be good at everything – and this is perfectly acceptable. There should not be a need to delude youth with the idea that they can become anything, rather it should be said that in something that they show a particular aptitude for, they will be able to move mountains.

I would certainly be interested in hearing other perspectives on this issue, especially from those that might have grown up in a different way than me. Also, are there any other lessons from games that might be valuable to shift into real life?  Let me know.


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