Video games have always been my favorite pastime. Starting with games as simple as Duck Hunt on the Nintendo Entertainment System, I have always been able to get lost in an interactive world of pixels on a screen meant for my entertainment. Being a child that grew up with modest athletic ability, I spent a lot of my teenage years in front of a computer screen. Games such as World of Warcraft took up years of my time and arguably set me behind academically. Video games were always a place to go to escape and distract myself from real, tangible responsibilities and workloads. Then I found League of Legends. League of Legends is a computer game that taught me how to look at things objectively and how to learn. League of Legends is classified as a multiplayer online battle arena, or MOBA, and is a highly competitive game with tens of millions of players all around the world. When I first started playing the game I thought it was just for fun, and while I was used to competing against other players, competing against them as a team was something of a sport that I was not accustomed to. I like to consider myself a competitive person, and as a child that grew up not playing traditional sports or having another outlet for my competitive drive, League of Legends quickly filled the void.
I learned to look at situations objectively from playing League of Legends. At first League of Legends was not much different from the other games I had played, it served as an escape and was purely fun. When I reached the max level I thought that I was one of the best players out there, and when I learned that there was a ranking system for other max level players I instantly joined in. My first game in the ranked queue, I got absolutely crushed by my opponents. It was a shock to realize how low on the ladder I really was. When someone loses, their first reaction is often to get angry and look for somewhere to place blame. I admit I was guilty of rashly blaming teammates and not asking myself what I could have done. As I played and started thinking more objectively about my decisions, I noticed improvement in both my play and my ranking. I began to strive to improve in something like I never had before. After playing the game for two years, in the summer of 2013 I was in the top 0.5% of millions of players around the nation. While my improvements in League of Legends were obvious, I took some of the lessons I had learned and applied them to other areas of my life.
League of Legends changed my approach to learning. Before League of Legends, if I wasn’t good at something I would assume that it was too hard, that I wasn’t smart enough to do well in that subject and wouldn’t bother applying myself. Being able to improve enough to play in the near highest level of this game has shown me that there is always a way to learn. I find myself stepping back and asking myself “how can I do this” or “how should I approach this”. It gave me confidence in myself that I can achieve what I put my mind to, not because I am exceptionally smart or talented, but because if others can do it then there has to be a way that I can do it too. Nowhere has the impact of this realization been greater than in my academics. Where I used to consider myself a student that just couldn’t get A’s like other students, I now look at others and ask myself, “If they can, then why can’t I?” This game made me realize that often there is no big secret to success, and that you can improve at anything just by applying yourself and putting in the time. It might sound silly that a computer game, something that most people consider a time sink, is the thing that taught me how to approach academics the right way. It taught me to take responsibility for your actions and ask yourself what you could have done differently. It has taught me that the biggest secret to success is applying yourself and putting the time in. With this mindset applied to my academic life, I was able to achieve a 4.0 GPA my first semester in UT Tyler. While I no longer play League of Legends competitively, the lessons I have learned from it will always stick with me.