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    Thread: Life in Sweden – Chapter 0 ( Prologue )

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      Life in Sweden – Chapter 0 ( Prologue )

      Life is a Journey and an Experiment. It’s okay to be lost and wander around to reach your goals. What sometimes matters is the journey, not the destination …

      Today is September 15 and exactly one month ago on the morning of August 15 2019 after a long process-waiting of 6 months, I landed in ‘Gothenburg’ – the second biggest city of Sweden. As I am casually writing this without any structure or planning, so it might be lengthy, subjective and trashy at some points. At this time of the year, it’s very cold, dark and lonely here now �� , I want to invest my time in something else other than studying, Netflix and work ( PS4 not working as I don’t have a TV yet �� ), actually anything productive which other upcoming students or travelers from my country can read including friends and family members to know what I am up to. I’ll also mention it here that this is not supposed to be published regularly or weekly basis like a series but maybe once a month depending on my schedule. Obviously, I am not going to publish everything on the internet I do here �� so I’ll mostly address the issues, challenges and highlight the positive aspects of studying/living in Sweden and abroad in general. Since I am studying Interaction Design & Technologies focusing on Games User Experience (UX) & Gameplay Design, I’ll also be relating my reflections to this field of study. Since digital games are like a virtual reflection of our reality, it will help me to compare, analyze and understand the design of everything around us and experiences in general through my writings. ( These type of activities are important part of my course )

      == Personal Reflection on Life & Traveling ( Skip if it feels trash ) ==

      Few years back when I started my career in the Pakistan’s Games Industry, a commendable person once said to me ‘ If you want to learn more about the people, life and the world then travel different places. Traveling teaches you a lot about so many things around you ‘. I totally get this now because looking back at all these years when I spent first 15 years of my life in Saudi Arabia I could have learned so many things but there I was lost in the loop of : School -> Homework -> Video Games -> Cartoons -> Sleep -> Repeat. No communication, no people, no social interaction and no exploration. This is how mostly expatriates are forced to live in any foreign country and I can especially comment for the Middle Eastern region.

      Almost everyone in their life is stuck in some sort of loop, my routine was different but most people follow the same pattern or we can assume a linear path. For a short time, it’s okay to have this but it’s not going to take you much further in life. That loop evolved when I shifted to Pakistan in 2008 and then it changed my mental model (details irrelevant to share). Anyway, I don’t regret those moments and life which I had in KSA as a kid, though not living some moments is still regrettable which I could have enjoyed by going out from my comfort zone.

      People usually say that life is free to live & happiness is a choice but I sometimes think everything you experience in life if it’s happiness, sadness, struggle, hate or love comes at a cost. Either you pay for it right-away or it comes later at some point in your life when you realize it that you have lost something. My time and investment in those loop-activities as a kid back then is one the reasons I am part of a community plus a professional in the Game’s Industry & it helped me building a mental model over the years for this work. That loop gave me a clear picture where I want to be and what I want to do once I am done with the college and university education. Today where I am, I don’t think so it would have been possible if I wasn’t stuck in that loop but it came at a cost. It made me less social, more introvert and I used to feel uncomfortable with the unknown and new people. It made me a passive observer of the society rather than an active participant which is not how we are supposed to live. Things don’t always matter, it’s the people sometimes and at some point. Maybe it’s too philosophical so I will make it easy to understand by making an interesting comparison between our life-reality and an RPG (role-playing-game).

      Life Reality VS Role-Playing-Game

      An year ago I read a book ” Reality is Broken : Why Games make us better and can change the world “ by Jane McGonigal. The summary of this book is that how video games can fill the missing gaps in our life making it meaningful and how they can motivate us in real world to achieve our goals. Our life is not much different from a Role-Playing-Game. You start the game with a character having some basic character attributes e.g Intelligence, Strength, Charisma, Physique, Perception etc. You are assigned a name and then thrown into the world to survive and progress.

      After some struggle, you get to know what your main quest is like Rescue your Princess, Save the world from Evil forces or Find your Parent’s murderer. It’s like you are standing somewhere and can see far ahead your destination across the deep dark forests, deserted lands and dungeons ( see the picture below )

      Your destination is the mountain ( A concept art from The Hobbit )

      It’s somewhat similar to our reality. We are born, given a name and then inherit some characteristics from our ancestors, parents, culture and other places. A little further in life, either you wish yourself that ‘I want to do XYZ stuff’ or forced by parents/adults to get an education in a particular area. This is like your first Main Quest of your life. Other ones come later like Get a Job, Get Married, Become Rich, Escape Death.etc and the difficulty rises as you progress. These are like the most common quests of our life and almost everyone focuses on these struggling to complete them. It’s like walking a linear path from Start to End ( See Picture Below ).

      A linear path of Main Quests

      Coming back to the Role-Playing-Game, if you rely on your character existing abilities to directly finish the main quests then chances are very high you will fail or die. You might finish some initial main quests but as you will progress the main quests will become harder asking for more better character abilities/attributes to complete it. This is where ‘Side Quests’ or ‘Challenges’ jump in to help you out. You then explore the game world for smaller side-quests and other challenges to increase your character overall level, skill-sets and its attributes. Once you have gained enough abilities then you can follow up your Main-Quest in which you were earlier struggling to complete. Also, Side-Quests not only give you chance to increase your character abilities, they also give you useful information about the game world, other characters and a whole new perception about the game world. It fills you up with rich information and details about everything which can help you in your Main-Quests ( See Picture Below )

      Quest System in Assassins Creed : Origins

      In a similar way, Side Quests’ are important too in reality in the form of different hobbies, personal-development activities, socializing, exploring cultures, meeting new people, doing someone a favor and traveling. Whenever you are stuck or lost in your Main-Quest then the Side-Quests open up new ideas and dimensions for you to complete the main one. The more you explore, wander, talk and interact, more enriching experience it will be for you and sometimes rewarding. In short, Side-Quests are there to fix and smooth out your rusty track to the Main-Quests. You might feel in the beginning that you don’t need them but at some point you will realize that these are important just like in a Role-Playing-Game. The problem is that nobody wants to wander and explore even when they feel lost hoping for something to clear their path to the goal but why not create yourself an alternate path ? Traveling is not the main reason why I decided to study abroad because it would be a silly decision and costly too just for the sake of ‘Traveling‘ to go abroad for a degree. It was primarily the post-graduate education itself why I made this decision in order to broaden my career perspective. Since college days, this was on my mind for many years to get an education abroad in my field of interest ( Game Development and Design ). Actually traveling, exploring and meeting new people is the thing which I have started enjoying in recent years. If I had gone abroad few years back then it wasn’t going to be that much meaningful and productive than it is going to be now I believe. I know it’s too early to say but now it’s the right time for me having experienced enough things in recent years. Despite of having a dream job in which I was comfortable, something was holding me back and halting progression. A wish for getting an education abroad ? maybe, can be said as it was knocking my mind for several years but it was also the fact that I was curious to see more of the world and people now. To be an active participant, rather than a passive observer in the society.

      Surprisingly while writing the previous paragraph, it reminded me of a TV commercial “The World is just Awesome – by Discovery Channel” which I used to love watching about a decade ago. Now I know why it was so appealing to me. The desire and curiosity was always there and now it’s the right time to unlock – experience this side-quest. If you feel the same then it might be the time for you too …

      Last edited by V3N0M; 20-10-19 at 05:50 PM.

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      Nice post and keep up the good work
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