Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Breaking My Habit, Day 35: Minesweeper

Today I'm going to talk about minesweeper. I'm pretty sure most of you are already familiar with this little game. It's one of the oldest game in Windows operating system, featured as part of Microsoft Entertainment Pack for Windows in 1990 and had been incorporated in every Windows release ever since (thanks Wikipedia). 

Number 1 game for office slackers  since 1990

The rules of minesweeper are quite simple.  Again, from Wikipedia:
"..The goal of the game is to uncover all the squares that do not contain mines (with the left mouse button) without being "blown up" by clicking on a square with a mine underneath. The location of the mines is discovered by a process of logic. Clicking on the game board will reveal what is hidden underneath the chosen square or squares (a large number of blank squares may be revealed in one go if they are adjacent to each other). Some squares are blank but some contain numbers (1 to 8), each number being the number of mines adjacent to the uncovered square. To help avoid hitting a mine, the location of a suspected mine can be marked by flagging it with the right mouse button. The game is won once all blank squares have been uncovered without hitting a mine, any remaining mines not identified by flags being automatically flagged by the computer.."

Initially, all of the player's squares are still empty. Players are expected to click randomly for the first few turns, as they have no clues of where the mines are. After several clicks, normally you can start calculating the location of the mines. Do this consistently, and you'll win the game.

In my opinion, the game resembles much of our thought process in real life. When we first encounter a problem, we are not always equipped with enough data / facts to help us solve it. Heck, even we might not understand what's problem at all. We'll do what anybody would do: poke the problem little by little, hoping that we'll get more data by doing that.

Once we get more data, we can approach the problem more intelligently. There are certain logical ways in solving our problems. Do this, get that, it's pretty straightforward to do. This is how we mark most of our mines, by simple calculation.

But then, you couldn't expect to win your games with only this approach. Eventually, after performing all of your logical moves, you'll run out of it. What's left is the moves that requires you to take a leap of faith, because honestly, you just don't know.

Which pretty much analogues to our real life situation. After you work all of your small problems out, sometimes you will still be left with one big, final problem. And often, there's no clear logical moves to it. You cannot choose the "easy" path anymore. You either had to play it safe and do nothing (not solving the problem), or to do something riskier that you aren't 100% sure about.

Will you stay in a job, even after all the bad things you've received from it? Swap 'job' with relationships, projects, habits, mindsets, or whatever thing that bothers you. And remember, just like in the minesweeper games, the clock's always ticking. Sometimes it will just boil down to one question: Are you willing to take the risk?