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Sometimes, I'm a Cheater

Brian Campbell | 14 Jun 2011 12:44
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And like an answer to a prayer, there was an "unlock everything" code. My friends and I could spend our time playing, rather than getting ready to play. The code also disabled saving, but to us that was a fair trade - we just wanted to play our favorite songs right out of the box. Cheating let us enjoy the game more by allowing us to skip to "the best parts."

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This cheat works in real life, too. When I get home from work, I often find myself remembering that there's laundry to be done, dishes to wash, the carpet needs vacuumed ... And there are days I feel a little bummed about all of those little chores that are part of the whole "grown-up" package.

And then I remember that, sometimes, chores can wait. I park on the couch, throw in a game, and I enjoy my evening. Laundry be damned, there's fun to be had. Really, isn't one of the benefits of becoming a "grown-up" the fact that you can decide when the dishes are done, or whether you can have ice cream before for dinner?

Sometimes Shortcuts Cut the Wrong Things Short

While shortcuts have their uses and benefits, there's that whole business about "too much of a good thing." And it's true. Sometimes getting to your destination sooner means skipping a lot of beautiful scenery. In games, it might mean missing something important, or just something really fun. Getting the warp whistles in Super Mario Bros. 3 was a quick way to skip to the end, but it also meant missing out on "Giant Land," which was a real blast.

There are also plenty of times where I've cornered myself by cheating. The ubiquitous Konami Code helped me whiz through Contra, but I didn't get any better at the game. My own growth was eroded, in the same way I get worse at arithmetic the more I use a calculator. What's worse is, because I'd already reached the end, my motivation to go back and actually learn was squashed; it was harder to tolerate the challenge of the cheat-free environment.

As tempting as real-life shortcuts can be, we've got to resist sometimes. Otherwise, we can turn a life-building challenge into a hollow victory. There are things to be learned that will make us better and experiences (including mistakes) that make for much better stories years down the road.

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