No matter how complicated and complex it may seem, your life is as simple as a video game. It’s a game that everyone around you is playing as well — attempting to learn rules, develop strategies, level up and ultimately win.

This metaphor offers a comprehensive outlook on overcoming challenges, gaining skills and managing resources. This simplified perspective also offers the opportunity to forge a (literal) game plan. Throughout each subsequent life level, it becomes increasingly clear that the game’s ultimate winners are those who can master the ability to understand their priorities and pour their time into the right pursuits.

Inspired by an original game strategy guide created by author and programmer Oliver Emberton, we created an alternative manual to navigating life as easily as maneuvering a controller.


The game begins at birth, when you’re assigned a randomized character, arbitrary starting stats, and are placed into one of many different environments. Each individual starting point comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, but for the most part, starting on level one sucks. It can sometimes seem like an 18-year tutorial riddled with involuntary tasks, uninteresting quests and undesirable duties. These pursuits will prove worthwhile, however, as they pave the way for later-levels’ success.


Following an extensive adolescent boss battle amongst yourself, your mother and your father, you’re finally offered full control over your actions and circumstances. But even with newfound freedom, time and energy, you’ll find that many of the best quests, possessions and professions are locked until you earn more experience.

To achieve them, you’ll need to level up as quickly as possible. Of course, a series of unexpected problems will inevitably slow this process. You can prepare for the complications that are expected, but the most difficult dilemmas are unexpected.

An endless onslaught of unexpected problems may create the conception that you lack control over your life. An invaluable skill is gained and a new level achieved upon learning the purpose of the game is not to control what happens to you, but to choose higher level reactions to what happens to you.


At this more mature stage, your most important priority is properly apportioning your time. Every task you choose affects your skill set and state of mind, so mastering this ability is essential to moving forward.

Your options are practically endless. Choose to spend your evenings in bed with a book, and the results look something like:




Conversely, you can choose to spend your evenings binge drinking at the bar with buddies, and the outcome looks more like:




Of course, choosing the actions in your own best interest is sometimes easier said than done. Before most constructive tasks can even be considered, you’ll need to optimize your vital status levels, much like you used to do for your Sims.

If you’re entirely deprived of food, sleep, or even laughter, productivity becomes a nearly impossible feat. Before facing any major challenges, it’s essential to revitalize the state of your body.


Once primary levels have been replenished, an experienced player can approach an important task or obstacle by selecting one of two alternative reactions: a solution or a distraction.

Solutions are pursuits that either resolve a difficulty or prevent it from occurring again in the future. Distractions are reactions that either detract from the dilemma (making you unaware of its existence) or divert some distress which the difficulty may be causing.

The more often you use a solution or distraction, the easier and more instinctive that choice comes to be in the future. If a solution or distraction is employed to the extent that becomes unconscious and automatic, it’s evolved into a habit.

Habit solutions will help you advance to the next level, whereas habit distractions induce the opposite, making you fall back to previous levels you’ve already conquered.


Established habit solutions will allow a capable player to allot time and resources toward developing skills. Some skills are more valuable than others, opening up entirely new realms of possibilities. Other abilities become dead ends, offering little more than a neat party trick.

Combinations of skills are often the most effective. For example:



Accomplishing skill combos not only unlocks new career paths, but also new partners. Attraction is it own mini-game. Its effects are maximized at higher levels, once you’ve established habits that advance your appearance, personality and apply your ample skill sets to a prospering career. A major achievement is completed when your attraction levels unlock a new life partner.


With our cheat codes of proper perspective, healthy habits, honest comprehension of your priorities, and apportioning your time to develop valuable skills, life suddenly seems to become a beatable game.

The difficulty was never necessarily winning, but knowing what winning itself means. Ultimately, as long as you're happy, healthy and fulfilled, you’ve mastered your strategy and conquered the uppermost levels of the game.

Your video game is unique, however, in that instead of unlimited respawns, you’re only offered one life. So instead of wasting any more time reading strategy guides, it’s about time you took the controller.