I Just Wanna Live While I’m Alive: It’s My (NPC) Life

For a lot of players, video games can serve as an escape from the harsh realities of our day to day experience. I know for me that’s a big reason to play. Whether you’re dealing with the stress of school, relationships, finances, the workplace, or some horrifying Frankenstein’s monster fusion of all of those things, video games give you the opportunity to leave this world for awhile and tackle problems where you may feel like you have a little more control. Perhaps sometimes the idea of a video game life is so enticing, you might entertain thoughts of just moving to a game world entirely.

As a kid I often thought of what it would be like to live in the world of my favorite video games. It was fun to imagine myself going on adventurers with Link, Mario, or Mega Man, defeating bad guys and saving my fictional homeland. I would also imagine what it would be like to be a “normal person” in these settings, living a life not of guts and glory but of humble peasant labor.

Talon
I mean, they obviously work so hard.

I can remember playing pretend with my sister and cousins when I was a kid, and we’d often play these elaborate imagination games set in video game worlds where we took on the roles of regular people. We’d work together to run the Stock Pot Inn from Majora’s Mask, or all have our own separate shops on Windfall Island from Wind Waker. I remember us opening Excel documents on the computer to create guest lists that tracked how long a particular customer was staying, with one of us playing all the quirky guests that showed up at the inn. We’d write letters to send to one another and someone would play the postman, delivering them around the house to the other kids. We’d take the fake money out of board games and exchange it as we bought goods from each other’s shops, then use the supplies we had purchased to hunt monsters or go on adventures. In some ways I still play such games, but now under the socially-acceptable structure of tabletop RPGs.

It’s fun to think about the kind of life one might live in a video game world. If I could live in a fantasy realm of my choosing, what kind of world would it be? What kind of life would I lead in such a place? As I pondered this question I decided to approach it from these two different angles, tackling it one piece at a time.

THE WORLD
Skyrim Map
When thinking of what sort of game world I wanted to live in, at first I tried to focus on “realistic” factors like safety, level of technology, and overall prosperity. Obviously Fallout would be a pretty terrible setting because of its post-apocalyptic nature. There are a ton of risks involved in surviving in such a world, and human beings tend to be at their worst when scarcity is at play. Skyrim is similarly dangerous because dragons have just been unleashed upon the world – one day you can be minding your own business tanning some leathers, the next a monstrous beasts descends upon your village and Shouts you into oblivion. That certainly would not be fun.

Choosing a modern city wouldn’t make things better either. The setting of an open-world title like Grand Theft Auto, for example, would offer all of the technological conveniences of the real world, but also all of the crime and horrors that exist in the real world as well. I’m transporting myself to this video game reality in order to avoid a life intimately tied up with street crime, not to become involved in a more direct fashion. Final Fantasy XV’s setting seems like it could be a decent option – vehicles and computers without the violent crime – but now you’re factoring in monsters again. Not to mention political upheaval resulting in constant exposure to troops and war. No thanks.

Ultimately when you boil right down to it, no video game world really sounds all that appealing when you overthink things. All of them are dangerous by nature and many don’t offer the same conveniences as real life. You have to ignore those details in order to truly make a decision, and once I stopped thinking so much about whether or not it would be difficult to live there, I started thinking about which open-world game had a universe that legitimately excited me. The obvious answer for me is Breath of the Wild. I don’t enjoy very many open world games at all, particularly when it comes to their aesthetics. Most are torn-up, barren, too “same-y.” Conversely, Hyrule is stunningly beautiful with diverse natural surroundings. There are monsters but there is gorgeous animal life too. And the denizens of Hyrule offer races way more fascinating to me than your typical elf and dwarf nonsense.

THE JOB

Anju
My interest in innkeepers has nothing to do with my childhood crush on Anju…

When thinking about what kind of job I would want in a fantasy world, my thoughts immediately went to the games I played with my family as a child. Something about doing a more “mundane” job appeals to me in a way that being a soldier or sorcerer does not. In real life I am not particularly motivated to be a small business owner, but it seems like a fun thing to do in a video game world.

My mind jumps back and forth between a few different options. Running an inn feels like it could be fun. You meet all kinds of interesting people from far away and hear their stories, all while providing them with the comforts of home in a strange place. Shopkeeping offers similar opportunities, but in addition to travelers you also can form relationships with regulars and get to know the locals. Having a good friend come to the store just to mill around and talk to you while you wait on real customers seems like a fun way to wile away the afternoon.

Ever since playing Wind Waker, I’ve liked the idea of being a video game postman. You get to travel all over the place by flying across the land on your mighty wings. Delivering letters and packages makes people happy (there are no bills or junk mail in video games) and during your journey you learn lots of interesting facts you can use to help people. “Whoa there, buddy, you’d best stay away from those mountains until you get yourself an elixir to keep away the cold. You’ll freeze to death otherwise.” Delivering letters seems like a fun way to see the world and to expand your horizons at the same time.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
After thinking about each idea separately, it’s time to put it all together. While I do love the idea of being a Rito postman, the Zora are my favorite tribe in Breath of the Wild and the Zora Domain is an absolutely gorgeous place to live. Surrounded by crystalline waters and ruled by a just king and fun-loving prince, the Zora homeland seems like a great place to settle down. Zora live for centuries so this would give me the opportunity to experience a long life full of interesting opportunities. I could try out all the different careers I’m interested in – be a shopkeeper for a couple hundred years and then switch over to innkeeper for a change of pace.

Breath of the Wild Sidon
I’ve managed to successfully restrain myself from using this screenshot for some time.

Being a Zora innkeeper would be fun because the Zora have a pretty close working relationship with the Hylians. I’d get plenty of visitors from other parts of the world and could learn about their lifestyles and their reasons for coming to the Domain. And because all the lands around Zora’s Domain are connected by rivers and waterfalls, I could freely explore and then tell all of the visitors at the inn about the best places to sightsee and hear about their reactions.

If you enjoyed hearing about my NPC dream job, then you’re in luck: today’s post was part of the ongoing Charming and Open event here on Adventure Rules and there will be more content like this for the rest of December. Geddy over at Nostalgia Trigger provided this great question and I asked him a question as well, so be sure to keep an eye on his blog to see his answer to my inquiry. Thanks for reading, and be sure to let us know in the comments what your dream NPC job would be!

8 thoughts on “I Just Wanna Live While I’m Alive: It’s My (NPC) Life

Add yours

  1. This was truly a fun post, thanks for sharing. You put a lot of great thought into where to live and what to do for a living there. I especially enjoyed reading about the elaborate imagination games you played as a kid. You and your friends really put a lot of thought into all of that and drew some amazing inspiration from games. The videogame lover and educator in me are both nerding out about that pretty hard for entirely different reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well I’m glad you enjoyed reading the post! I have a lot of fond memories of playing such games as a kid, and it was fun to have a good opportunity to talk a little bit about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great question! I know one thing for sure: if I were an NPC, I’d make sure the locks on my door required the highest skill level to pick….

    Your childhood games sound so much fun! I remember playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with my best friend… usually it entailed one of us becoming “lost” and the other one trying to find us and remind us of our true destiny. Because that’s how 7-year-olds play, apparently…..

    Being an innkeeper or shopkeeper appeals to me, for similar reasons. I’d meet a lot of people, but for the most part I wouldn’t have to deal with people coming in and trying to nick my stuff while I stood helplessly and followed them around the room with my eyes (haha). But seriously, I do love jobs that let me meet different kinds of people, and that seems right up my ally! haha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man, I didn’t think about how easily people just come into your house. That’d be a real problem in Hyrule, as it seems like nobody locks their doors so Link can just go inside of whoever’s house he wants and smash all of their stuff looking for spare change. Maybe I should rethink this plan!

      Your description of playing Ninja Turtles sounds exactly like the sort of thing we used to do, haha. There is no telling how often one of us turned evil and the rest of us had to convince them not to be evil anymore. I guess as kids we are exposed to stories of prodigal heroes pretty frequently, so maybe it’s natural to play that out in our fantasy.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Terrific answer! Wind Waker definitely turned me on to the idea of being a postman, but I think it was mostly to avoid dealing with sailing around on a slow-ass boat… Seeing the world with ease definitely sounds a lot nicer.

    And good call at hanging around the Zora’s selling stuff! They seem like the coolest group of folks and they really seem to care about each other, while the Gorons are like big teddy bears but I never got as much of a “community” vibe from them. And after all, being a part of a friendly community is what this is all about, isn’t it? 🙂

    It’s true that most video game environments wouldn’t be great to live in. The sole purpose for most of those worlds existing is to have some major issues that you as the player need to solve. Hyrule generally has issues but for the innkeepers and civilians overall, life is pretty mundane and basic. But hey, that sure beats having to bear the burden of saving the world, and rescue chickens for pretty ladies! 😉

    Thanks for the great answer and I’m working dilligently at your question back to me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I look forward to reading what you come up with! Answering your question brought back a lot of great memories and ignited some nostalgia for me, I very much enjoyed it. I’m glad you were able to participate this time around!

      Liked by 1 person

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