Apex Legends as a Metaphor for Life
April 3, 2019 – John Baker
We dropped into Skull Town. A tough drop for sure. Lots of teams drop in Skull Town every game. It’s one of those places that, if you come out on top you’ll be positioned for a win, but the odds are not in your favor.
Alec dropped nearby and we had a third, random teammate who dropped near Alec. Another team descended on them immediately. I don’t know if Alec even got a gun the fight hit so fast. They were down quick, their names in red on the side of my screen. I knew I had to act immediately to have any chance of reviving them.
But weapons were hard to come by, and I was under the same fire they were. I happened on a Longbow, a slow firing sniper rifle, not ideal in a close quarters gun fight.
I raced through the corridors of Skull Town heading towards the red indicators. My team was down in a small room at the end of a shortish corridor. The opposing team had come through a door opposite from the hall. As I approached the room, I saw my first opponent. He met me in the corridor.
The shots came fast and frantic. I was no-scoping my sniper rifle – range was too short for aiming down sights. I have no idea what weapon my opponent had, but it was firing fast. The corridor was filled with violence.
I did my best to strafe in the tight space, and I’m sure my opponent was doing the same. Fortunately, I was able to line up a few head shots and, in seconds, he dropped.
I raced to my teammates and started reviving, using Lifeline’s shield to protect myself and them from my opponent’s teammates.
Fast-forward two minutes, we rotated out of Skull Town, feeling strong. Seconds later we took a battle against a team entrenched behind some rocks…uphill… Game over.
It’s tempting to call this game a failure, and I suppose it was, but failure is essential to learning Apex Legends. In fact, failure is essential to learning anything, including the law and business.
Many of you know Apex Legends so I don’t want to go into a ton of detail about the game, but some explanation is necessary. In Apex Legends you and two teammates drop from an airship on a large map with 19 other teams. The object is to be the last team standing. You drop in with no equipment and no weapons. It’s a mad scramble for initial weapons and armor. Once you’ve survived the chaotic first minutes, the game slows into more of a chess match between the remaining teams.
The interesting thing about being a beginner in Apex Legends is that you’re tempted to rate your success based on your rank at the end of a game. In the game I detailed above, we probably finished like 11th overall, I don’t actually remember. We certainly didn’t “do very well.” In order to end with a high rank, some beginners attempt to avoid fights early in the game, hoping to survive till the end. But that is a fool’s errand.
Anyone who has learned Apex Legends and acquired any sort of skill in the game will tell you that the only way to improve is to drop right into the thick of things. You have to seek out fights so that you can learn how the game works. Figure out which guns you prefer, understand cover and your character’s abilities. Your rank doesn’t really matter. What matters is laying foundation for future games.
If you throw yourself into the conflict every game, you’ll have a lot of games like the one I described. Short, frantic, and perhaps a little fun. You have to lose a bunch before you start to get wins. If you avoid fights, you’ll never learn how to get the game-winning kills.
Why am I discussing this? Because Apex Legends is actually a lot like life.
You can’t really learn anything without throwing yourself into the mess and sorting it out. For example, you can’t learn how to manage the stress of trial by avoiding trials your whole career. It’s tempting for a young lawyer to fear trial and, therefore, figure out ways to avoid it. But, much like the conflict avoiding Apex player, if you’ve never handled a trial, you won’t be able to manage it when the time comes. And the time will come someday.
Young attorneys are much better off jumping right into the hard stuff. When I first started practicing law, I had the fortune of being an Assistant State’s Attorney. You simply could not avoid trial as an ASA. Impossible. But I took it a step further and created a rule for myself where I would say “yes” to every challenge offered to me. You want to handle this dead-bang loser case? Yes. You want to handle this super messy sentencing hearing? Yep. I said yes over and over again because I knew that the only way to learn was to try a bunch of cases. The outcomes mattered, of course, but not as much as the experience I was gaining through practice.
This is also true in business. I started my firm at 28-years-old. Too young, probably. But I figured it out by handling any case that would walk in the door. I took some messy ones in those early days (and I still do), but every case handled was another notch on my belt. Each one gave me more experience and more confidence.
If I had focused on my “stats” at the beginning of my career, I would have been disappointed and found my talent lacking. Frankly, it was lacking. I needed that experience to get to where I am today. The only way forward was to put my head down and work, ignoring the end results (though, most of my cases worked out just fine).
Mark Zuckerberg had a famous quote while building Facebook, “Move fast and break things.” It was their mantra. Now, I’m not claiming to be as smart as Zuckerberg (nor as wealthy), but he’s not wrong. In every pursuit in life, your best bet is to move fast, try lots of things, and fail a ton. Because through failure we learn, and we lay a foundation of experience for the future.