College—The Real-Life Video Game and How to Win It

By Bailey Werner on December, 6 2021

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College—The Real-Life Video Game and How to Win It

According to a study done by Pew Research, 70% of college students reported playing video games (65% of whom claimed to be regular or occasional players). College students are part of the largest demographic of gamers, and those numbers continue to grow. While this might seem shocking, I have a theory for why gaming consoles have become commonplace in college dorms.

Video games and college have more in common than you would think. Both present similar challenges and rewards. Like with the branching narrative in Heavy Rain, your actions have consequences…only in college, you can’t replay chapters if you make a mistake.

While it’s easier to play a game with infinite lives over the single life you have, don’t let the college experience slip you by. I’m hoping this blog article will convince you to look at college the way you look at gaming. Sure, it can be hard, but it’s also fun and worth the effort!

The Challenges

If you can beat it in Zelda, you can beat it in college! The stages of your educational journey are similar to those in a video game. You’ll be faced with new challenges as you progress, each one tougher than the last. Don’t let any of these obstacles stop you on your path to victory!


This is the busywork, from collecting resources for crafting in Minecraft to finishing the last problem on your math homework. While these tasks can be repetitive and boring, there’s good reason to do them. These assignments help level up your skills and prepare for the real challenge: the exam. Don’t make the same mistake I did, trying to fight the Cleric Beast in Bloodborne before farming for some health items. Do the extra credit assignment. You’ll be thankful later when it saves you a letter grade!


In video games, you choose a class based on your playstyle and what abilities you’d like to unlock. As you progress through a class, you can earn experience points, which can be put into learning new skills and leveling up. In college, you choose classes based on your major. As you move towards getting your degree, classes become more in-depth and focused. While classes can be intimidating at first, by the end of the semester, you’ll have them mastered!

Dynamic Difficulty

Most games start you off with a tutorial, then get more challenging as you progress through the story. This keeps things engaging. In college, the difficulty scales with each semester. As you wind through your Gen Eds and start taking higher-level classes, the workload becomes more taxing. Throw internships and preparing for graduation into the mix and you’ll think you switched to hard mode! Luckily, while the difficulty increases, so does your experience. When you level up (by finishing courses and completing academic milestones) you learn new skills and gain experience that helps you take on an increased amount of work.

Boss Fights

You know a boss fight is coming when you find a room full of supplies and the autosave icon starts reeling in the corner of the screen. Sadly, your progress isn’t saved before a boss fight in college, and there’s much more at stake. Like with the foreboding room full of supplies, you often know when they’re coming. Some boss fights you battle each semester, such as midterm exams and finals. It can be a presentation or paper. What all boss fights in college have in common is that they are worth more than regular assignments and can do a larger amount of damage. Whatever it is, make sure you’re ready for it. Fill out that study guide and go over everything you’ve learned before you walk through the doors of an exam. Do another quick glance over your history report before turning it in. I know boss fights can be tough but try not to dread them. Instead, see them as a way to show off your skills!

Game Over

What’s a game without the risk of losing? A lot less stressful, but also less rewarding. While I’d like to say you’ll never get a game over, college isn’t easy. Even giving it your all, you can be defeated. For example, a brutal exam destroys your grade. Some people choose to stop playing, dropping out of college. They’re so devastated by the “Game Over” on the screen, they overlook the “continue from checkpoint” option right under it. In Dark Souls, losing is part of learning. The game doesn’t even give you your first weapon until you die once, showing that failure often comes before success. The trick is to keep going. Retake the class or change your major. You didn’t come this far to give up on getting a degree! It’s never too late to pick up where you left off and finish what you started.

The Perks

Winner winner chicken dinner! Besides earning your degree, there are mini rewards for attending college. While we each go to college for our own reasons, we can all enjoy these perks!


Both college and video games offer the ability to progress. You slowly build your skills and fulfill goals until you’ve mastered a situation. This gives us a sense of accomplishment that’s worth the hours of dedication. In video games, it’s following a quest line full of challenges of varying difficulty. In college, it’s following a career path and furthering your education. Remember that with each semester of college, you’re bettering yourself, and you’ll be rewarded along the way.


We like to feel in command of a situation. When you have the controller, you call the shots. In RPGs, such as The Witcher, you carve your own path through the quest lines and end up with your own unique playthrough. Little did you know that college is one big open-world role-playing game as well! You get to make your own way and be self-sufficient. Embrace this freedom as you experience college!


We like to play games where we’re the protagonist. We matter to the characters and the story. If you set out on obtaining a college degree, you’re seeking your purpose. You’re striving to be a part of something bigger and enter a career field where you can truly make a difference in society.

How to Get the College Platinum!

If you own a PlayStation, you know where this is going. In most games, you earn trophies for completing certain tasks. While some of these will be givens (such as getting your degree, passing your midterm exams, etc.) others you have to go out of your way to achieve. Collect all of the trophies and you earn the platinum trophy, the equivalent of saying you’ve mastered a game and gotten everything you possibly could out of it! I challenge you to go for the college platinum. Make the most of the college experience by going after every achievement. Join a club for a bronze trophy! Cheer on the Tigers at a football game for a gold! Going for the platinum is all about embracing college to the fullest and trying things you might otherwise not.

Roll Credits

All of this hard work is building towards that final cutscene: the ending cinematic where you get to walk across the graduation stage and all of your hard work will be rewarded. While the story ends in a video game when the credits roll, with college, it’s just the beginning! Earning your degree might seem like the end goal, but you’ve just finished the tutorial. Now you can get into the workforce and put your new knowledge to use in the career of your choice!

College is tough. Sometimes you’ll wish you could stop playing, but power through it. Embrace college with the same mentality you have playing video games. Be open to trying new things, never give up, and focus on developing your skills. By the end, you’ll wish there was a New Game+ mode!



Bailey Werner

Mild-mannered student by day, writer by night... but typically by day, I’m Bailey Werner, current junior and graphic design major at Fort Hays State University. With a passion for storytelling that stemmed from 3rd grade writing hour, I’ve been crafting worlds and characters as a hobby for over a decade. Now, as a part-time content creator for the school, I’m living out my dream of writing professionally. If I’m not in my room reading, gaming, or making art, you can find me at the lake. I strongly believe in the power of storytelling, and I’ll continue to use my writing skills after graduation, in my work as a graphic designer.


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