Four Things RuneScape Taught Me

RuneScape is a MMORPG first released by Jagex in the early 2000s. The game is widely-known as a softcore online RPG for non-serious gamers. Or just people with way too much time to kill.

In RuneScape, you control an avatar in a three-dimensional virtual fantasy world. It's a swords-and-sandals universe complete with magic and numerous skills the player can train. RuneScape is not a level-beating game with set goals and bosses to fight; rather, the game functions like real life. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want - as long as you have the appropriate skills to do so. Fight monsters, kill other players and take their stuff, train any of twenty-five skills, go on quests. Play minigames with other players for fame and glory. Get on the wrong ship and end up hundreds of miles away from where you actually needed to go. Embark on a dangerous quest without food and die in a volcano by accident.

If you're not careful, you could be a demon's lunch. Or worse, get looted by another player. Needless to say, in this big wide world of RuneScape, a player has lots of things to learn! Here are four things RuneScape taught me.

1. Perseverence

The cornerstone of RuneScape is skilling, or training any of twenty-five possible player abilities used in the game. These skills range from major moneymakers like mining, cooking and fishing to combat-oriented skills such as magic, archery or various melee abilities.

These skills let the player carry out increasingly difficult tasks that help with everyday RuneScape life. Many of them go together; for example, fishing and cooking lobster trains two skills simultaneously. A player can sell those lobsters for dough to be spent on armour someone else made for them. Using that armour and a sword, the player can train their attack, strength and/or defense to better defend themselves against damage.

Training such skills, however, is never quick and easy in RuneScape. If you want something in the game, you have to go out and earn it. A player isn't going to be able to kill high-level demons just by standing around; you have to spend months in combat to slowly increase your chosen battle skill. If a player doesn't want to spend months poking chickens with a dagger, then too bad. You won't get anywhere.

To skip the tedious gruntwork of leveling up, some players resort to computer programs called "bots" to do all the clicking and running for them. Jagex does its very best to crack down on these cheaters by putting bot users' avatars on display for other players to throw rotten tomatoes at. Any offending accounts are terminated and forever shamed.

Oh yes, RuneScape teaches diligence all right. It took me years to get to level 43 magic, and I'm not even that powerful yet. Anyone who wants "easy money" or wants to kill the impressive-looking dragon five minutes into the game had better look elsewhere.

2. Financial Smarts

Similarly to real life, money is crucial to RuneScape. Making money is time-consuming; spending it is much easier! I learn the true value of money in this game because I have to work for it. In real life, I don't earn my own money. While I understand that my parents work hard to feed the family, I didn't treasure money as much before I played RuneScape simply because I didn't earn it myself.

In RuneScape, however, everyone has to do something to get money. Whether you complete a quest, develop a skill for profit, kill monsters for drops, or whatever, money is difficult (or at least time-consuming) to obtain and even harder to keep.

So in-game, I don't just blow all my money on that awesome weapon or tons of cooking supplies. I buy things in moderation and make sure that I will actually need whatever I'm buying. Thriftiness rules the day in RuneScape!

Does the usefulness outweigh the cost? Can I buy this for less somewhere else, even if I have to walk thirty miles? How badly do I really need that spiked mace? Can I make this myself, or am I merely lazy and/or unskilled?

In addition, I'm a major stalker of economic rates: when prices of a certain item go up and down. That way, like stocks, I can buy essentials when things are cheap and sell my wares when rates are high. The RuneScape website has an entire section devoted to tracking prices of various objects, complete with graphs, percentages and what is currently the most- and least-traded.

RuneScape teaches simple economic principles like supply and demand, inflation, economic bottlenecks and how to save money.

3. Map-Reading

In real life, I have terrible navigational skills. It's not that I can't read maps or tell right from left; it's that when I walk around I rarely register landmarks and turns and the like. I tend to get lost easily and/or not know where I just was five minutes ago.

RuneScape is a pretty big world. Not as big as something like Skyrim, obviously, but sizable nevertheless. Especially for newbies, getting lost in the world is far too simple and can be extremely dangerous if you happen to walk too far into a dungeon and can't find the exit...

That's where maps come in handy! For a quick rescue, click the World Map icon in the corner and figure out how to get to your destination with minimal injury. I now have a much easier time getting around Earth after a couple years navigating RuneScape. Of course, there's a built-in compass in RuneScape, and the roads are mere guidelines rather than streets you need to walk on. But navigation is the same basic idea both in-game and in real life. I would say that the game improves one's sense of direction and ability to pay attention to landmarks.

4. The Value of Accomplishments Over Material Wealth

With all the work put into an endeavor, it feels great to finally accomplish something big! Whether I finish a difficult quest or journey to the far reaches of the world, I feel proud to have the perseverance and guts to achieve my goals.

And here's the thing: in RuneScape, it's not about who has the coolest armor or the flashiest teleport animation. It's better to have armor that will protect you and a teleportation system to move fast! The MMORPG is about the adventure and the people. You don't earn money to buy the biggest house to show it off to your friends. In RuneScape you earn money to train skills to be the best person you want to be, not who your friends or family wants you to be. Modern life seems to value material wealth and prosperity over personal accomplishments. In the game, it's the other way around.


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