Stalling with Steele: Workplace advice from programs that hate you

Steele Giles, Columnist

People tell me that video games don’t reflect real life and can’t teach you anything about the real world.

My reply is that they have clearly never played a roguelike.

For the uninitiated, a roguelike is a game in which nearly everything is randomly determined and a high skill level is required for surviving past the tutorial.

I can almost guarantee that somebody just thought “Oh, like Minecraft.”

Minecraft is a fairly forgiving game. Provided you aren’t a complete idiot or have the luck of somebody who works in a mirror breaking factory and lives in a house filled with black cats on pendulums, you can’t die. A basic level of skill and a hearty helping of cowardice make you functionally immortal.

FTL: Faster Than Light is a game where even an expert can die on level two because the random number generator decided that he would get no good weapons and face something far stronger than he can handle or even survive until the “Get out of Dodge” button charges.

Truthfully, you can learn a lot from the roguelike. It breeds a level of bloody-minded diligence into players, a combination of “okay, will this work?” and “you’re not beating me. I will win if it is the last thing I do.” You’ll learn that no matter how good you are at something, luck is a factor and sometimes the dice will land against you.

So how does this cross over into the job market?

Don’t really know, honestly.

I’m told that diligence is the kind of thing employers like, but only if you can do it quickly. That determination is great, as long as you know when to drop a topic because it’s become counterproductive or too costly or too inconvenient depending on who you ask.

Depending on the roguelike, networking with others might not even help (a disturbing metaphor for the workplace if ever there was one), as things might be too unpredictable between games that another’s advice becomes more than worthless. Getting advice from experienced coworkers can be the difference between making and breaking a job, but there also requires a level of judgement as to whether any given piece is sound.

But hey, what do I know?

Maybe I just wanted an excuse to talk about video games.