A friend of mine on difficult video games and accomplishment:
Have you heard of the game NetHack?
It’s been in continuous development for the last 20 years or so. It’s all text-based graphics, very spartan in that sense, but those limited graphics make for extremely rich and deep gameplay and interaction with the world.
Oh, and it’s really, really fucking hard.
When you die, you’re dead forever. And it’s really easy to die.
Basically, every time you touch a key on your keyboard, a turn passes.
If you hold a direction key on your keyboard, 20 turns will pass and you’ll have moved 20 squares.
It’s very, very possible to have a threat emerge and kill you in 2-3 turns. The game requires extreme patience, caution, and planning to get through. Even that might not be enough, but it’s definitely required.
Beating NetHack is called “ascending” – I finally did it after a few years of playing.
And afterwards, I thought to myself – you know, I bet it’s easier to start a bank in the real world than it is to ascend in NetHack.
… Anyways. I haven’t started a bank yet. But I really seriously suspect it’s easier than beating NetHack. If you took 200,000 perfectly normal people and split them into groups of 100,000 – and half of them were instructed to beat NetHack and the other half were instructed to start a bank, and it was a really big deal if you succeeded or failed… I bet you’d get more new banks than NetHack ascensions.
1. If you can win a hellishly difficult video game, you should be able to do almost anything.
2. If you can structure your life like a video game– e.g., forgiving learning curves, point-based progression systems, rewards for difficult accomplishments, carefully selected addictions— it can really help better yourself.
I basically agree. Regarding #1, I think video games are somewhat akin to very broad IQ tests (probably a much better IQ test than the “standard” psychometric suite!), and as such don’t test for everything. There’s more to achievement than IQ. But if you can beat, say, any of the Civilization games on the hardest difficulty, it’s good evidence that you can handle complexity much, much better than most people. (Maybe you should start a bank!)