Do Strategy Games Teach Fire?

I think there are a lot of games out there that help teach FI principles.  Granted this is a bit of a stretch, but I see some level of truth in it.

Now I have been a 4X style gamer since the genre was pretty much invented.  Master of Orion (MOO), well the sequel MOO2, were really the epitome of the genre.  I still play the latter from time to time today.  I should add that according to Wikipedia, MOO is the game that invented the style of game as the term was invented in a review for it.  I say sure, but in fairness I still think the genre predates the game.  Regardless the style of game is a way to teach resource management.  Making efficient use of your resources, including time, is a core component to FIRE.  This is the thought that came to me earlier today while I took a break from writing another blog post to play one of my games.

Today, my favorite phone based game is called Landlord.   It’s a free to play, pay to improve faster game.  I won’t say win as there is no winning in a traditional sense.  The object of the game is to earn more money by buying more properties, improving them, and lowering your costs.  You also have to travel around to buy properties that are near you, so there is a walking aspect to the game that I like.

Anyway, these games really do teach you aspects of budgeting, frugality, and other aspects of our community.  I would argue that World of Warships, (PC and Android), and the other games in that family are also the same thing.  They are free to play, and pay to win. In their case, you don’t need to pay to win most of the time.  You fight on a team, and that helps dramatically in how much you earn.  You can be great, but if your team loses the battle, your earnings are less no matter your stats in the battle.

Now I do need to take a step back for a second here.  In the case of World of Warships, like so many free to play games, you will benefit from having a better gaming setup.  That fact is counter to FIRE in so many ways.  I do have a powerful PC, and a great monitor.  This fact is one of the reasons why my savings rate is near 25%, and not 50% or more as some folks achieve.  I do spend some of my earnings.  The amount of time that I spend playing that game with my son is significant, and that time together is very valuable to me.  I build my own PCs, and have since I was 11 years old. It’s a bit cheaper, and you do get better value.  For me, it’s a lot of fun, but this is totally orthogonal to where I was going with this post. Well, this post is about gaming, so why not wander a bit?

These games that I am talking about, 4x games like MOO or Civilization, and games like Landlord are tools to help you learn the fundamental concepts of WHY we  are in this community.  Granted, it would take some time reflecting on it, or perhaps a load of, let’s say baloney, to get you to this position, but that’s where I am going today.  I really do think the basic concepts, as well as a level of understanding the concepts of failing to do so, are taught in these games.  Take Civilization or another game I like and play Galactic Civilizations (modern version of MOO from a different publisher) when playing against humans or machines, you regardless will win or lose depending on how well you use your resources along with the effects of a bit of luck.  Is that not a microcosm of life?  Is this not how life plays out?

Simulations are a really useful tool to help you get an idea of reality.  Models and simulations are not reality, but they can help you learn about it.  No simulation of the market of any time period will tell you how to invest for the future with a guarantee of success.  Yesterday informs today, but tomorrow still has not happened yet.  Any number of variables can change slightly or significantly, and the impact on your simulation can be great.  Anyone who has looked at a weather forecast knows what I am talking about.

As I have said, I have played these games since the beginning.  Have they trained my brain to help me find joy in budgeting, and in controlling my finances myself?  I have to think so.  This goes to other posts I have read in our community lately about how the effects of small changes can add up over time.  If I can find the post, I will link it.

What was missing though was the guidance.  This guidance I will give to my son.  How good of a Jedi would Luke Skywalker have been without Obi-wan or Yoda?  The hero’s journey comes to mind, but again, I think these ideas are related.  It’s the old man grousing about how the world should be to a youngster who has come to him for some other reason. An experience can have a completely different meaning if you look at it from a different perspective.  A teacher who helps a person understand the WHY beyond the WHAT of a lesson is what I am talking about. Of course, the teacher can simply be a person reflecting on the experience, as I am, and seeing it for more than the specific details of the event.

So I see these games as a way to teach myself and learn about FIRE.  I think a lot of the fill-in-the-blank Tycoon games are also good examples of this.  I played video game tycoon on my android some time ago, and found it to be a blast.  Still, the value beyond the entertainment, and the lesson, was not fully realized until I started thinking about it all in this way.

So, what do you think of my idea?  Am I full of baloney? Do this not pass your sniff test?  It feels like a bit of an oddball idea of mine, but the more I think about it, the more it’s feeling like a real thing.  I am curious how I will feel about it in a few days.

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