Being more than nine months late to the hype train that was the widely-praised The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I finally received the game shortly after coming home for winter break as a reward for keeping my grades up that semester. Immediately, I popped the shiny new cartridge into my Nintendo Switch, eager to see what all the fuss was about. As I soon found out, the excitement was well-warranted, and was absolutely blown away when given a panoramic view not unlike the one below of the game’s open world mere moments after booting it up; I knew I was probably free to explore everything in my field of view, and then some.
The freedom I was given was initially overwhelming, especially since I knew the land would be infested with various hazards and enemies, and all Link, my character, had when waking up was a pair of shorts. I had very little health and stamina, no armor, no weapons, and no map; I was all on my own. However, the beginning moments of this game were particularly resonant with me, as I was reminded of my own personal experiences when witnessing it. More specifically, having my first semester of college newly under my belt, I could relate to Link’s situation of being presented a strange, new world with minimal hand-holding.
Despite my concerns, I proceeded with my game, holding onto the hope that Link’s near-helpless condition would soon improve. Given my character’s then weak state and inexperience with the game, I obviously went through much trial-and-error, making silly mistakes and dying repeatedly, often to a frustrating degree. At times, this made me want to rage quit and yank the television cord from the wall, as was the case during the times in which I was down on my luck and was tempted to give up during my first semester.
It was during these times in Breath of the Wild where I was most worried about how I would even think to complete the game if I was so “terrible” at it. I noticed that I got a similar nervous gut feeling from this concern as I did during one particular predicament I had experienced in college: the time in which I absolutely bombed my first calculus midterm. I remember constantly worrying about how terrible my final grade in that class would be, how it would destroy my GPA. The advice my academic adviser gave me was to take things “one day at a time” in math, and I decided to heed her word. I made sure to set aside time each day to study for that class, making sure I deeply understood the material bit-by-bit, and as a result, I crushed the weekly quizzes, which in turn led me to do much better on the second exam, as well as knocking the final right out of the park. I completed the course with a solid “B”.
Likewise, I applied the same philosophy to my experience of Breath of the Wild, not worrying about how I will win in the grand scheme, but instead focusing on each small victory, much like my weekly quizzes in math that past semester. I took satisfaction in completing each puzzle, seeing Link’s health and stamina increase little-by-little, accumulating stronger armor and weapons, and seeing my map expand as I charted new territory. The funny part in all of this: I still have not completed the game, yet I am feeling extremely confident in my abilities to do so, and am, most importantly, having loads of fun along the way.