4 Ways that University is just like Gaming

Posted by Megan on August 28, 2014

Archive | Journey to the Centre of York

Games are a series of interesting decisions” – Sid Meier, most well known for Civilization.

As a life-long gamer, I couldn’t help but notice the many ways that university is just like gaming. I find that it gives me some extra motivation if I tackle my university related problems from a gaming mindset instead of a stressed-student mindset. Below you can find my favourite comparisons. Bonus points to those that can name all the games featured!

#1 The challenge of the game is just like the challenge of university.

A GIF from Super Mario World.
One of my favourite parts of my oldest favourite game. It’s a classic!

Now that this has been said, there are a lot of interesting parallels:

  • It’s not as fun or enriching when the difficulty is set too high or too low.
  • Every player has a different natural starting difficulty
  • Difficulty in university can be adjusted through things like – using resources, raising or lowering course load, attending workshops to increase skills, etc.
  • It can help to get to the end goal if you break up the bigger picture into chapters with boss fights. The boss fight of fourth year could be a thesis, for example.
  • Just like good ‘ol fashioned Prima guides, help from experts and experienced students are always available at a cost – time (and/or money).
  • Practice and investing time into the game really does result in a stronger player.
  • Cheating not only makes the game less fun but it prevents you from gaining any real experiences.

#2  A good game pays attention to the details for a more enriched experience.

A GIF from GTA V
I love when games have shout outs to Canada! This game featured a super detailed open world.

Many of my favourite games have a rich world with extras beyond the main gameplay. I like exploring and finding all the secrets the game has to offer. I’ll try to talk to all the side characters to better understand the story, buy all the different kinds of abilities and items, and spend time playing any mini-games.

University can be ‘played’ in much the same way. You can certainly zoom through the main adventure without ever paying attention to your environment and what is has to offer, but the experience you can have if you do stop to see what’s around you can be vastly greater. York features over 400 clubs, 40+ eateries, tons of resources, and great events all year long. Why not take advantage of that?

#3 Having the right amount of options available can make or break the experience.

a GIF from Borderlands 2
This game featured a great amount of choices for the player (and funny dialogue many times over).

Now everyone certainly has a preferred amount of freedom in their games. Some people like games with little freedom where you follow the prescribed path to enjoy the story the way the game designers planned. Other games prefer games with open worlds where the freedom and available options are essentially infinite.

In the real world, it’s been my experience that it’s better to have personal freedom somewhere in the middle and I think university tends to hit that note quite perfectly. You generally have degree requirements that ensure that you are capable of tackling any next steps you need for your dream career but you also have the freedom to indulge in electives that might interest you on a personal level. You have to have a certain amount of credits to be considered full time but you have the freedom to make your own schedule. These freedoms allow students to tailor their university experience to their strengths which is invaluable.

#4 The environment is often what sets your first impression and tone of the game.

A GIF from Legend of Zelda - A Link Between Worlds
This game series is well known for it’s beautiful environments.

On that note it is super important to get a feel for the environment of the university you think you want to attend. Here at York, we actually have two campuses that offer a significantly different feel. Keele campus has been described as more industrial but I also find it quite picturesque at different times of the year and many of the newer buildings have beautiful and unique architecture. Glendon campus is the exact opposite in many ways, offering a smaller and more natural landscape with a more cosy student body but without the same excitement that Keele often offers.

If you don’t like the environment of where you are studying, you can probably still get through the ‘game’ but it will likely be less enjoyable and inspired. This is why it’s quite fantastic that new resources such as ONTransfer can help you determine if transferring is a good option for you.

Articles read for inspiration:

What Makes Games Good by Tom Francis

Does tackling university from a different perspective help you? What other ways are there that university is like gaming? Comment below!



Megan is a third-year Psychology student. Follow her on her journey of self-development as she explores and ventures through campus.

See other posts by Megan