Jason McSheene

An Outlet for Thoughts, Ideas, and Discussion

Life is like a game: Specifically, StarCraft2

I shouldn't be floating so many minerals :(

Gathering my units for an attack!

I’m surprised how much I’ve learned about life from playing StarCraft 2. If you’re not familiar, StarCraft 2 (SC2) is a real-time strategy war game set in a space age between three main factions. Typically games place two players on opposite sides of a symmetric map with only a base and some workers. The players’ job is to defeat his or her opponent by obtaining resources and building a stronger enemy.  The army units you build are weak or very effective against units your opponent might make, hence creating a fairly elaborate rock-paper-scissors(-lizard-Spock, if I may) game.

SC2 is often compared to chess but without turns as each player needs to collect resources, spend them on units effectively, build buildings, search the map for more resources, set up defenses, take control of regions of the map, etc. Players are both moving their pieces simultaneously over a vast terrain.  While watching and learning from professional players (yes, professional), I’ve noticed that not only have I applied many principles to my games but also to my life.

1)      Start with a plan
Sure, improvising can be fun and spontaneity sometimes leads to surprises, however those are exceptions and not the standard. In SC2 I know I want to beat my enemy using a mixture of marines and tanks so all the resources I spend go into making that specific army stronger and better. As a 20-something, it’s not as clear cut as a 30-minute SC2 game. What do I want to do when I’m 30? How do I get that dream home and 2.5 kids by age 40?

There is a lot of goal assessment in these questions and rarely very straightforward answers. The goals will change but the game is always the same, so plan what you can for now and if conditions change, do your best. If there is a hiccup, remain focused on the outcome you desired.

2)      Be efficient with resources
Simple: don’t waste what you have and especially don’t waste what you don’t have.
In SC2 if I spend too much money on a new base, I’ll be way behind and very vulnerable to attack for a few minutes.

In life, if I get too behind on resources early on, then it is more and more difficult to catch up. Of course here resources are of many types: monetary, emotional, physical, mental, academic, etc. The key is to use what you can, give what you can, and save what you can. If done wisely, these investments will pay off.

3)      Know what the enemy is doing
First off, I hope you do not have enemies like those you might have in SC2. They are always trying to destroy your workers, obtain your resources, sneak inside your base, and overall make your life miserable. Therefore you want to be ready! You want to know what types of strategies your opponent is likely to use, roughly how many resources she might have, and when you think she might attack. If you can nail these points of knowledge, you’ve won half the game.

In your life, besides people who try to make you miserable,  think of the challenges you face and prepare what you can actually prepare for. I personally have trouble getting out of bed in the morning unless I preset my coffee machine. If I wake up smelling coffee and know that it will get cold and gross after a couple of hours, I’m more likely to get up and start my day. Is it hard for you to avoid eating snacks all day? Don’t buy snacks to keep at home. Do you have that one item of work you know you want to procrastinate on? Do that task first thing then be proud that you conquered it.


4)      If you’re not attacking, you’re losing and leave your comfort zone
I’m the worst at this. I love collecting data and intelligence then calculating a perfect time to strike… except there never is a *perfect* time. At best I find a decent window that allows my attack to be a success. At worst, I went to attack when my opponent fully expected and was prepared. However, if I just sit there in my base too afraid to move out onto the rest of the map, I learn too late that my opponent settled 4 more bases than I have and now obtains 10 times the resources I do. Now her army is 10 times stronger and it’s a short game.

This might actually summarize my life: I love having as much information as possible before making decisions. However, there is never enough information to confirm a statement as 100% true. This is how science operates. You form a hypothesis, then through careful testing of certain conditions, you determine how likely it is that the hypothesis is false.

It’s important to take a step outside of what you are used to. Leave that bubble that you’ve build around yourself and take a risk, lest you stagnate in your growth and opportunities. I will do the same!


5)      Don’t stop until it’s officially over
There is an (in)famous SC2 professional player named Greg “Idra” Fields… and he’s a notorious quitter. In one game in particular, his opponent accidentally destroyed his own base so he was way behind. Idra felt like HE was losing, so he quit before his opponent resigned. Everyone in the crowd was shocked because Idra won but quit before he knew it.

Sometimes things don’t work and that’s fine. You’ll lose some but do not be in a rush to lose them. If you feel like you’re losing, look for some advice. Maybe if Idra had his teammates alongside him, they could of encouraged him to continue. Also (within reason) do not be too stubborn. I’ve found that doing what seems hardest at first thought is usually the best option.


6)     And finally… “Good luck, Have fun”

A good round of SC2 begins with “good luck, have fun” or glhf for short. I always meant it sincerely. After my opponent would beat me, I’d say “gg” for good game. Standard etiquette but most of the time I really did mean it. Kind of.

After those last words, I was reminded of the phrase “Life is like a game”. As such, it set off the song “Kaboom!” by I Fight Dragons (a favorite chiptune rock pop band of mine). Enjoy the lyrics and the video below!

Life is like a game
We gotta choose a side
You try to play
Before you lose your mind
And fade away
But you could soon be gone

Who’s it gonna be?
You gotta tell yourself
Its never me
And you can justify
Most anything
So whose side are you on?

Well, one day they’ll drop the bomb
Who knows who they’ll drop it on
Maybe someone that you love
So before they get to you
Do what you gotta do

Don’t try to say
That we could win it all
Some other way
Our pride will never fall
And never change
You better toe the line

Cause in the end
The only thing on which
You can depend
To attack is safer
than defend
But not for army line

Well, one day they’ll drop the bomb
Who knows who they’ll drop it on
Maybe someone that you love
So before they get to you
Do what you gotta do

Pick which side you’re on, drop the bomb [6x]

Well, one day they’ll drop the bomb
Who knows who they’ll drop it on
Maybe someone that you love
Don’t wait for the evidence
No one’s really innocent
Send the judgement from above
And before they get to you
Do what you gotta do





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