Years Of Playing Tower Defense Games Can’t Prepare You For The Responsibilities Of Defending A Real Tower

Illustration for article titled Years Of Playing Tower Defense Games Can’t Prepare You For The Responsibilities Of Defending A Real Tower

The divide between games and reality is vast. Though it can feel like you’re getting better and honing your skills while you’re playing, those skills don’t necessarily translate in the real world. As challenging as these games might sometimes be, years of playing tower defense games can’t even begin to prepare you for the responsibilities of defending a real tower.


After games like the Dungeon Defenders series and Orcs Must Die!, people these days think that holding down a fortress that’s being besieged from all sides is as easy as pointing and clicking where you want to set up a spike trap, but it’s not that simple. Trust me, if you want to dig a moat, you can’t just draw a line around the area you want to protect and pay for it using the gold you passively built up defeating enemy hordes. No sir, you have to get in there with a shovel and get your hands dirty.

People need to beware of this fantasy that if they make a mistake building a tower in the real world, they can just sell off fortifications for half the cost of construction and try to restart. Practically speaking, that’s just not how it works at all. Failing to reinforce your tower enough to withstand heavy bombardment from dark elf archers has serious real-world consequences.

These games trivialize those stakes in a way that’s not only misleading but also, frankly, offensive to those whose actual livelihood revolves around building towers.

Trust me, once your watchtower is on fire from flaming arrows, it’s gone forever, and there’s no pausing or building timers before the next wave of attackers storm the gates. But you would never know that if you spend your morning commute mindlessly repairing damaged palisades in one of these unfortunate tower-building games. Frankly, it’s clear to me that the second these woefully misled people face a bloodthirsty swamp troll in real life, they’re a goner.

It’s a shame, too, because these games could bring attention to the difficulties tower defenders like myself face in real life, whether it’s securing the proper permits to build a stone curtain wall on the largest hill in town or actually finding a lightning ring to better defeat swarms of harpies. Instead, these games choose to squander their player’s precious time in a fantasy land where all they need to do to safeguard and improve their citadel is to sit back and rack up enough XP to acquire an upgrade.

Are they even thinking about the actual towers sitting right atop America’s hillsides that are vulnerable to cannons and fire magic? Somehow, I doubt it.


And sure, you may say that I’m being an alarmist. But when those invaders crest over the hill, you’ll wish that you had spent a little less time dragging and dropping catapults into place on a screen and a little more time erecting a 30-foot defensive barricade of iron and oak that can withstand even the most robust battering ram.

And don’t even get me started on Space Invaders.