Osaka, 2018 bokeh balls

Live Life Like a Video Game!

Osaka, 2018 bokeh balls
Osaka, 2018

Dear friend,

A philosophical idea: what if you lived life like a video game? Would life be more fun, exciting, challenging, and interesting?

Live life outside the box

Espresso closeup. Osaka, 2018
Espresso closeup. Osaka, 2018

This is my thinking:

First of all, most of us are bored in everyday life. Our lives are routine. We do the same daily routine: wake up, coffee, commute to work, work inside a box, come home (to our apartment-box), watch movies/play games on a box, and then go to sleep. Then rinse and repeat for several decades, until we die in a box.

Osaka urban landscape, 2018
Osaka urban landscape, 2018

Seems a bit depressing.

Why do people like playing video games?

Colors. Osaka, 2018
Colors. Osaka, 2018

Being here in Japan, I’ve been interested to see how obsessed people are with video games, virtual reality, and living some sort of escapist lifestyle.

As a former video-game addict as a child, here are some of my thoughts:

  1. Everyday life is too mundane, boring, and non-challenging for us. Also, real life doesn’t have good markers of progress and success. In video games, everything is clearly demarcated– we know how many more experience points we need to “level up”, we are always challenging ourselves by going on new adventures, and there is endless novelty and excitement.
  2. When we play video games, we get to be the heroes, whereas in everyday life (assuming you work for a company, or some boring office job), we feel like cogs in the wheel, or peons for some larger (alienating) machine. I think as human beings, we all have a “will to power” (in Nietzsche’s words). We desire to become stronger, more influential, more powerful, and to seek more challenges/excitement in life. Video games offer us that, real life can often feel restrictive.
  3. Much of modern day living is literally grey– very little color, and vivacity. It is my theory that having a variety of colors, textures, images, and views inspires us as humans/creators/artists. Consider– much of modern cities are just grey grey grey, boring boring boring. Not enough color. Our offices are just grey grey grey, with the soul-sucking green-fluorescent lighting (just watch a scene from ‘The Matrix’). In video games, everything is bright, colorful, and fun.

How to live a “funner” life

Layered street photograph. Osaka, 2018
Layered street photograph. Osaka, 2018

Anyways I can keep going on how much everyday life kind of sucks– but the more important question:

What can we do about it?

Some ideas:

  1. Inject more color into your everyday life: Wear less boring clothes. It is my theory that wearing bright, colorful clothes (like bright reds, yellows, greens, orange) can bring more excitement and brighten your mood. Also when you have the chance to decorate your own office, your own walls at home, or even your laptop/desktop/phone wallpaper, opt for more colors. I think the more variety of vibrant colors we expose ourselves to, we can make our lives more exciting. Just watch a Studio Ghibli film/Miyazaki anime film, or even a Walt Disney colorful film to find inspiration. Or study how video games (old-school Nintendo) brightens up our world with vibrant colors.
  2. Seek to level up in real life: If you were playing an RPG (role playing video game) and you had the option of staying inside your home and watching Netflix, or going on an adventure and killing challenging monsters and fighting scary bosses– which would you choose? Obviously you would choose to go on the adventure. So in real life, opt to go for adventures (whenever you have the chance). Take the risk, and the “unsafe” option. For example, when given the opportunity to travel to somewhere unfamiliar and foreign, do it. When given a job promotion or opportunity to travel or live abroad, or even to work at a new job, take the offer– don’t stay enclosed in what is comfortable and safe.
  3. Make your real life self (character) stronger: To increase your real life ‘hit points’ and ‘strength points’ and other attributes (dexterity, intelligence, mana), you must challenge yourself. Go to the gym and lift heavier stuff. Walk more. Run more. Dance more. Read more challenging books. Learn new languages. In video games, we try to max out our “stats” — try to max out your stats in “real life” (but realize in real life, there is no max level– you can keep leveling up, everyday!)

Street photography like a video game

When I was out shooting with my buddy Simon Jacobs in the old school part of Osaka, I had the realization:

Street photography is like the ultimate “open world” video game, and far more interesting than any video game.

Consider, these massively “open world” video games like World of Warcraft or Grand Theft Auto. Real life is far more interesting!!! Planet Earth is an infinitely massive space– even if you were given 100 lifetimes, you could never explore all of it.

Kid in front of Nike store. Osaka, 2018
Kid in front of Nike store. Osaka, 2018

I think it is in our human DNA to be travelers, explorers, conquerers, and seekers of novelty, new challenges, and new adventures. Thus in your life, never stop exploring and going on adventures. Seek the uncertain, the chaotic, and the unsafe. Enjoy the thrill of randomness, uncertainty, and the unknown.

Man with green vest. Osaka, 2018

With street photography, have fun. Walk around a lot, shoot with wide-angle lenses like a 28mm lens, and get close to your subjects. Don’t be afraid of perhaps getting into scary confrontations– that is all about leveling up. Challenge yourself, by making more aggressive compositions, and to always visually challenge yourself to make new images– and stretch/level-up your own photographic strengths and skills.

Yellow and red selfie abstract. Osaka, 2018
Yellow and red selfie abstract. Osaka, 2018

Street photography isn’t just about making photos; it is a lifestyle. To me, I see street photography as real life philosophy; applied.

Selfie with Kirin. Sunrise in Osaka, 2018
Selfie with Kirin. Sunrise in Osaka, 2018

How to apply street photography principles to everyday life

Selfie with Lumix LX100 and GoPro mounted. Osaka, 2018
Selfie with Lumix LX100 and GoPro mounted. Osaka, 2018


  1. Street photography is about capturing the beauty of everyday life. Similarly, in real life– how can we seek to have more fun, and have more joy in our everyday, mundane/simple lives?
  2. Street photographers walk a lot: We all know walking is good for our mental/physical health — why not prioritize walking more?
  3. Street photography is democratic, and for everyone: This perfectly summarizes my political-social-economic beliefs: open-access, for the masses, and for the people — regardless of how rich/poor we are.
  4. Street photography is about the unplanned, unpredictable, and the chaotic: Why is it that in real life we try to live predictable, boring lives — whereas in street photography, we prefer the unplanned/candid. Shouldn’t real life be about living a less predictable life, and real life about living more candidly?
  5. Street photography encourages us to live braver/more fearless lives: The best skill to have as a street photographer is self-confidence, courage, boldness, and bravery. What if we lived real life taking more risks?




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