Leveling up your life

Dylan Woollard, Columnist

‘Choo wagga choo choo.’ If you’re an avid player of the Sims, you would recognize that phrase from when the Sims have something in the way of their path. Like Sims, people often get stuck in their ways and don’t know what to do next or how to proceed with goals and relationships. For that, I offer unconventional advice: model your life after a video game.

Video games have plenty of dopamine-releasing mechanics like quests, achievements and unique items that make you feel like you’re progressing in the world. You can instantly see your labor’s product and receive that gratification as a player. However, a video game’s condensed time frame is nothing compared to a human’s life.

Video game developers use these mechanics to keep the game organized. There are specific objectives to hit, rewards for doing difficult or uncommon things and objects that display something unique about the character. These mechanics have clearly worked, as video games have become a $100 billion industry. Why not try to apply them to yourself?

Your main storyline is deciding what you want to be in life. What stories do you want to tell?

That’s the life I live. As a stalwart fan of books like “Eighty-Eight Days Around the World,” “Robinson Crusoe,” “Life of Pi” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” I have always loved the idea of being an adventurer or explorer.

In 2021, I devised my “Great Man” questline, a series of challenges I laid out for myself. As an adrenaline junkie who loves being outside and existing in rough conditions, I wanted to do everything I could that would put me in extraordinarily uncomfortable or dangerous situations. I modeled many of the quests within this questline after the books that shaped my worldview.

I have set out goals to travel the country and gain incredible experiences. By looking at this challenge and gamifying it, I broke it down into ways to visualize these goals and pursue my aspirations.

From physically mild challenges like visiting every Wonder of the World to more demanding feats such as thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail or completing an Ironman, I want to accomplish various challenges. Some challenges are just plain weird and unique, such as joining a lobster fishing crew off the coast of Maine to catch and cook a fresh lobster. Though my taste is slightly eccentric, any challenge that pushes you out of your comfort zone is good for growth.

Some challenges left me with some of my most extraordinary stories. During winter break 2021, I took a solo road trip to hike across the southwestern United States. I got lost in Yosemite National Park, survived a bear and coyote encounter, made friends and stayed with several families. And this was all within the four weeks of winter break!

Through this method, I have accomplished things that only a few other people can say they have. Gamifying my life has made it incredibly fun and allowed me to push myself out of every comfort zone, giving me stories and scars that will last a lifetime. Students have endless goals and ambitions. Like with my experiences, gamifying those ambitions empowers them to accomplish those goals.

Woollard is a finance sophomore from Austin, Texas.