Pay to play

Life isn't fair. It's like a pay-to-play game. A reflection of Brawl Stars and life lessons.

Pay to play
Photo by Jonas Verstuyft / Unsplash
Life is like a pay-to-play game.
It's not fair. You just have to make the best of it.

I've been playing a mobile game called Brawl Stars with the husband and 12-year-old since Father's Day weekend. It's November now, so that means I've been playing for about 5 months.

Brawl Stars × Supercell
Download Brawl Stars and learn more about the game.

It's an interesting game. You have a starting Brawler that has certain characteristics. As you play each map, complete each mission, and gain or lose trophies, you earn things so that you can unlock more Brawlers or attain a certain rank to unlock capabilities.

Each map is like a new area in life. For example, "gem grab" is where you play in teams of 3v3. The team that gets to at least 10 gems starts the countdown. If they're able to keep the upper hand at the end of the countdown, they win. If the opposing team gets more than 10 gems, the countdown starts for them.

You start a map with 2 other team members. Different combinations of Brawlers gives you a different outcome since some Brawlers can adapt better on some maps than others. For instance, maps that have lots of grassy areas are great for close combat Brawlers since you don't want to give your location away. Maps that have wide open areas and or walls are good for throwers since they can keep their distance and still have direct damage. At the same time, how you play a Brawler is an expression of your skill and footwork..., er, thumbwork, in maneuvering to avoid getting hit or getting a kill

I've been finding myself giving life talks to the 12-year-old. Using the game to teach life lessons in:

  • how to handle failure
  • how to manage disappointment
  • how to deal with unfair, overwhelming situations
  • how to communicate and collaborate in teams
  • how to strategize and coordinate
  • how to be patient
  • how to be human... but in a game

(Aside: He tells me that I have an amazing ability to turn any random topic into a life lesson. I have a soapbox and I'm not afraid to use it!)

Such is life, isn't it? The game of life deals you the circumstances. You have to learn to make the most of it. Sometimes, you're always against someone else who can spend more money than you. When you're out of money (gems, tokens, coins), you "grind" to level up, or earn more to do more. If you don't turn failure into an opportunity to learn and iterate, then what happens? Fixed vs growth mindset here. You can tell where I'm going with this.

When you have saved enough to get more power points, you can choose which Brawler you want to level up. It's almost like choosing your major or specialization for college... or deciding whether you want to go liberal arts or STEM or declaring your favorite subject, hobby, sport, or pastime.

There was one time when we were faced against level 10 and above Brawlers. They overpowered us in terms of skills, speed, gadgets, and health points. They outlasted us. We were confetti and sprinkles while they were bullets. We lost battle after battle. Out of 20 battles (mini-games that lasted 2-3 mins), we lost 17. Crushing defeat! Ownd! Rampage!

The little one cried at the unfairness of it all. All I could say, that's life. Life is unfair. I told him, you're lucky enough to be born in the circumstances we have now. Not everyone has a roof, food, and internet. Not everyone has supportive and understanding parents and family. Not everyone has their basic needs met.

Meanwhile, I'm screenshotting every time I get Star Player status. I don't play games very often, but, when I do, I make sure I capture my wins. It's not very often I can do well on this team.

Screenshot of Brawl Stars, where I get Star Player (aka MVP) status. 

Where do you find yourself discovering life lessons? How does real life show up in the environments you design?