So much of identity is subject to fate, so we don't really get to "select" avatars. "The first 15 years or so of life are just tutorial missions, which suck. There’s no way to skip these," says Pemberton in the guide.

Moving into the young adult stage, it's time to make hay--you'll never have this much energy again. "Now that you’re playing properly, your top priority is to assign your time as well as possible. Every single thing you do affects your state and your skills."

Obeying your own commands: every decision you make costs willpower.

Pemberton's recommendations for managing your behavior:
1. Keep your state high. If you’re hungry, exhausted, or utterly deprived of fun, your willpower will collapse. Ensure you take consistently good care of yourself.
2. Don’t demand too much willpower from one day. Spread your most demanding tasks over multiple days, and mix them in with less demanding ones.
3. Attempt the most important tasks first. This makes other tasks more difficult, but makes your top task more likely.
4. Reduce the need to use willpower by reducing choices. If you’re trying to work on a computer that can access Facebook, you’ll need more willpower because you’re constantly choosing the hard task over the easy one. Eliminate such distractions.

Choosing the right tasks: "You need to put time into things that ensure a healthy state – like food and sleep – to keep your willpower high. And then you need to develop your skills with what you have left."

What are you well-suited for career-wise? "Combinations of skills are the most effective. It’s very hard to max out one skill to be the best – in fact, that’s often impossible. But it’s much easier to get pretty decent at lots of related skills that amount to something bigger" (see above).

Later life

"At the start of the game, you had no control over who you were or your environment. By the end of the game that becomes true again. Your past decisions drastically shape where you end up, and if you’re happy, healthy, fulfilled – or not – in your final days there’s far less you can do about it."

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Think Of Your Life As A Game. This Strategy Guide Tells You How To Win It

Oliver Emberton's Strategy Guide offers some common sense, game-derived guidelines for your real-world existence.

At times, maybe in our darker moments, some of us have probably entertained the thought that our earthly existence is just a game. And others among us may have "gamified" certain parts of our life—fitness, let's say. But what if you actually did view your whole life as a game—a video game—and used gaming strategy to make every decision? Oliver Emberton is the founder of Silktide, a company whose software improves website functionality and efficiency. Now the blogger and programmer has turned life coach, and his goal is to improve the functionality and efficiency of your daily existence. He's done so with a "Strategy Guide to Life": a faux RPG instruction sheet on how to navigate the real world.

"In a way I'm writing for myself 10 years ago," Emberton tells us. "I'm writing to pass on some of what I've learned."

Using as visual reference '80s video games, in which data commands made heavily pixelated avatars move around the screen, Emberton's strategy guide gives similar "commands" on how to choose daily priorities, exercise regularly, find love, or prepare for a great career.

At first read, the advice is all very obvious. But sometimes the best life advice is the simplest, and reframing your life in game terms may help clarify things. As Emberton says on the site, real life is a game of strategy and "the key to winning is simply managing your resources."

The strategy guide includes insight on getting stuff done:

"Your willpower level is especially important. Willpower fades throughout the day, and is replenished slightly by eating, and completely by a good night’s sleep. When your willpower is low, you are only able to do things you really want to."

...and on finding a relationship: "80% of finding someone comes down to being your most attractive self, which—like so much in life—just means putting your time in the right places. If you’re exercising, socialising, well nourished and growing in your career, you will radiate attraction automatically. The remaining 20% is simply putting yourself in places where you can meet the right people." (See more tidbits from the strategy guide in the gallery above and at Emberton's site.)

"When I was eight years old I learned how to program, and I started by writing games. So I guess that gives me an unusual perspective on life!" he says. "I've always found myself breaking the world down into simple models and systems, like a game."

Emberton says the Sims was a major inspiration for the strategy guide. "Left to their own devices, your Sim will do whatever they feel like, which is usually strikingly stupid," he wrote in a blog post. To play the game of life successfully, then, we need to quit moving on autopilot. And we must make smart decisions.

Check out more pointers from the strategy guide in the gallery above. But before you play the game of life by Emberton's rules, make sure you figure out what it means to win.

[Illustrations by Oliver Emberton]

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