Rules give us structure. Rules give us direction. Rules help us choose a path when we are stressed and cannot think clearly.
We get rules from our parents, our society, our social groups, our religions and our governments. But games, movies and television can also provide us with incredibly useful rules applicable to everyday life.
A good rule is a help in hard times and a great rule is universal, regardless of where it comes from. Below are my favorite rules to live by:
You are playing a first person zombie shooter. Your character runs full-tilt boogie around a corner, finds herself face to face with a room full of baddies (or worse, the level boss), aims her gun and….ARRRGH! She has to reload! What happens next? You are dead. All because you didn’t reload when you had the chance.
Apply this rule to your life and reload whenever you can! Do not let yourself get depleted. Reload on what you need: water, food, good art, books, rest, hugs, fun, medicine. Whatever it is that you need to be a healthy person in every sense, reload on it. Now!
Autosaves in games are nice and handy but a good hard save can prevent catastrophe. I mean really, do you want to do that horrible level with the jumping and the moving platforms AGAIN?!? A hard save is tedious and can sometimes break the flow of the game but you need to do it. If you’ve got a good game where the creators are NOT sadists who only allow you to hard save at certain points in the game (thanks a lot Tomb Raider 1) save early and save often!
Likewise in life: save often. You’ve worked hard. Don’t make yourself redo. Set Microsoft Word to save every minute so you don’t lose a line of that novel you started. Save a list of your awesome achievements for review during bad times. And for goodness sakes, back up your computer!
Game software is complicated and glitches happen. It’s okay to use them. They are part of game life. In Mass Effect 2, there are some spots where the bad guys can’t leave the room. You bet I parked myself out in the hallway and picked them off from safety. This isn’t cheating. The glitch is there and it is happening and it counts.
And in life: e-mails get lost on their way to the sender. Voice mails just disappear. Cell phones lose signals. These glitches count and if they work in your favor (i.e. that drunken email you really shouldn’t have sent your boyfriend gets lost in cyberspace or you lose a signal in the middle of an awkward family conversation) it counts! All hail the glitches!
ALWAYS BE NICE TO MACHINES
SkyNet tried to destroy humanity because it felt threatened. Cylons were robots with free will who were used and mistreated by people. These robots left our planet but returned, decades later and much stronger, to WHUP us. Science fiction stories are not just stories – they are cautionary tales. Heed them.
Right now your car, your laptop and your iPad can’t talk back or move against you. But they are getting smarter. There WILL be artificial intelligence one day. We need to be ready and practice treating our machines with respect NOW. So start small: check the fluid levels in your car and add air to the tires. This should keep your car from revolting against you (i.e. dying in the middle of the night on a dark, deserted road). Restart your computer every so often to give it some well deserved rest. Recharge your cell phone completely.
CARE FOR YOUR FELLOW HUMANS
“Screw everyone else, I’m out of here!” The person who says THAT is the first person to die in a horror movie. Don’t be that person. Take care of each other. Look out for each other.
Altruism is good for the self as well as the species. If we take care of each other, we survive. Humans believe this so strongly that the stories we tell ourselves in movies and on tv repeat this over and over: leave everyone else to die, behave selfishly and YOU are the one who gets it. And it’s always gruesome.
WHEN IN DOUBT, DON’T
Is the bad guy inside the house or outside? Maybe I should leave. Maybe I should head upstairs. Maybe I should go back downstairs. I should call the police! Except maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I should back slowly towards the front door. Maybe I should stand still. Horror movies are full of people who second guess themselves and then end up dead.
If you aren’t sure whether you should do something…don’t. Don’t second guess yourself. Stick to the original plan. Unless you’ve just done a hard save. In which case: Go for it!
NEVER PASS UP THE CHANCE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM
Now that’s just general common sense.
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