What Gaming Taught Me about FIRE


Written by Liz

Just your regular 27-year-old, queer, super-introverted, FIRE-chasing, frugal Singaporean, who lives a pretty good life while earning only a modest salary, but still plans to retire at age 40 with $1,000,000. Click here to read more

November 22, 2020

About a decade ago, this MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) – MapleStory – was super popular. It burst onto the scene when I had just started secondary school, and I was addicted from the second I played it.

MapleStory 1

Isn’t it just the cutest game ever?

However, like all good things, nothing lasts forever. Its popularity dwindled over the years, and I stopped playing after secondary school.

When the Circuit Breaker (Singapore’s equivalent of a “lockdown”) began in April, I decided to start playing again just for the fun of it. I thought I would love it all over again, but this was sadly not the case, for so many reasons that reminded me of my own FIRE journey.

Here’s what I learnt.

1. It’s never about the destination.

When I played MapleStory in the past, the highest level you could reach was Level 200. To get there would take months, if not years, of grinding. After 4 years of playing in the past, I had one character that reached a whopping Level 89.

Not even halfway to the maximum level, after 4 years!

But I didn’t care. Reaching Level 200 would be cool, but I didn’t even try to strive for it. Instead, I enjoyed spending time with my online friends and just enjoying the game.

Similarly in my FIRE journey, I’ve recently come to the realisation that I shouldn’t obsess over my S$1 million goal. While it’s certainly something wonderful to have as a goal, obsessing over it would make my life miserable every second that I haven’t achieved my goal. And that could be decades.

In order to stop this obsession over my FIRE goals, I’ve decided to make my FIRE journey enjoyable.

2. The process should be enjoyable.

Many of my schoolmates quit playing MapleStory after a few months or even a couple of years, because the grinding it took to level up was just so tedious. Getting to the next level could take days, sometimes even weeks, of (very) routine grinding.

And they thought I was crazy for enjoying every single second of the process. I savoured every mundane quest that I went on, every monster that I slayed, every bit of monotonous grinding that I had to do to level up. I loved the music, my character, the graphics, everything.

The fact that I loved the process so much made all the difference in the world.

MapleStory - Fighting Monsters

Fighting monsters at Lion King’s Castle.

This year, I’ve started to think about my FIRE journey a little differently as well. Just last year, I was planning to get to my S$1 million nest egg by working a number of corporate jobs. While I really dislike corporate jobs, this journey to FIRE felt unavoidable.

However, after some time of reflecting this year, I’ve started trying to create active sources of income that feel enjoyable to me. Hopefully after 2-3 years, I’d be able to transition out of corporate work and into having enjoyable streams of income. That way, I can enjoy the process to FIRE instead of dreading the Monday blues.

3. A big part of happiness comes from your social circle.

A decade ago when I was playing MapleStory, I had many of my real-life friends as well as online friends playing the game with me. Whenever I logged in each day (and yes, I was so addicted that I had to play every day), I would always have friends to hang out with in game.

On the days that we felt more diligent, we’d go for quests or hunt monsters together. On our lazy days, we’d just hang out in town, go shopping or just explore the different worlds together.

MapleStory Henesys

I forced my girlfriend to play the game with me.

Sadly, none of my real life friends play the game anymore. All of my online friends have up and disappeared too. On the off chance that I log in to play these days, things just don’t feel the same. Sometimes it just feels a little lonely.

Coming back to reality, I’ve realised that having a few close loved ones can really make a huge difference to your life. While money is important and gives us freedom, having loved ones that you can count on is equally important.

While I used to think that I’d be happy only when I reach my S$1 million goal, I’ve now realised that I need to change my thinking. It’s not about the destination; it’s about enjoying the process and having your loved ones with you along the way.

As always, thank you for reading and supporting this blog. 

Become a Millionaire and Retire Early on a Modest Salary Book Cover

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  1. Budget Life List

    Neat! What a fun post! I am not a gamer so this was really interesting. I enjoy the connection you made between your FIRE journey and the lessons learned from gaming. The pictures were fun too!

    • Liz

      Aww thank you BuLL! It felt a little random to me but I’m glad that you enjoyed it and that I could share a game that I really love 🙂