Gamer's Guide to Everything Else: In-game vs. Out-of-Game Resources

Gamer’s Guide to Everything Else: In-game vs. Out-of-Game Resources

How can playing Starcraft help you do your laundry or balance your budget?

In this new video series, I’ll take a live look at how video games can teach us lessons or offer metaphors for understanding life, business, philosophy, relationships, and a host of other topics. Today I’ll look at what Starcraft II has to say about identifying, compartmentalizing and prioritizing resources in your own life.

A few more final thoughts:

In Starcraft II, the in-game resources are minerals and gas. The game constrains how much of these you can get, so to exceed these limits, you have to use out-of-game resources, like time and attention. The game doesn’t put the same constraints on your out-of-game resources, so you can get a big advantage in the game by bringing out-of-game resources into the game.

The life lesson here is, when you’re pursuing a goal, identify what game you’re playing, what you’re trying to accomplish and what the constraints on your resources are in that game. Then, you can look to push the limits and do better in that game by applying your out-of-game resources, which often aren’t subject to the same limits.

This is often more productive than seeing all resources as interchangeable, because that way of thinking about spending resources doesn’t focus as much on your goals and what you are trying to accomplish.

Thanks again to Joe Wade for playing Starcraft II with me for this one! If you want to play a game with me for illustrative purposes, email me at [email protected]. And if you have any examples of this phenomenon in your own life, or if you have a better name for this series, let me know in the comments!

7 Comments on “Gamer’s Guide to Everything Else: In-game vs. Out-of-Game Resources”

  1. Pasteur #

    I was genuinely expecting a “It probably doesn’t… dezerg.”


  2. Steven #

    This has actually happened in my own life. Oddly enough, the moment you realize you have been playing the Uncharted franchise (PS3) too much is the moment you start utilizing the same stealth strategies in as game of capture the flag. I start hiding behind each cover, moving one to the next, and run softly, low to the ground across wide open spaces. I crouch behind cars and poke around walls looking to hide from opponents. I feel like it’s all a little superficial for a simple game of Capture the Flag. Maybe that’s just me.


  3. I Said What What #

    Sadly, it appears that many game designers utilize this principle as a way to suck more of one particular out-of-game resource: money.


  4. Nick Nutter #

    Cool article. Using what you enjoy to inspire you to better your life is always pretty fun.


  5. Yenzo #

    How has this video only 435 views on Youtube?

    I will keep the concept of in-game vs. out-of-game resources in mind and I *love* the concept of applying video game wisdom to your life. I have the strange feeling that I would like to contribute an OTI article on that topic – and the last time that happened, you guys actually published it. So let’s see what happens.

    Also, you said “second base”. Tee hee hee.


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