You’ve probably met your fair share of people who think video games destroy children’s minds. Some even say there is no benefit to playing video games. And don’t forget the lot (cough, mainstream media, cough) that says video games make people violent despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that it doesn’t.
The fun factor aside, video games teach us a plethora of useful life skills. In fact, many of these are skills that several Fortune 500 companies look for in their top managers. Here we list down the useful life skills you can get from playing video games.
Critical Thinking/Strategic Planning
Many video games require critical thinking and strategic planning to make the game easier. I’m not referring to boring IQ games or any of that stuff. Any good game would require the player to perform varying levels of critical thinking. Even the simplest of games require the players to think about what they need to do to make the game easier. What equipment should I buy? Which skills should I focus on? What weapons/skills should I use to beat this enemy? All these involve some form of critical thinking
Problem Solving Skills
This kind of skill ties up with critical thinking and strategic planning. Many games require players to solve complex puzzles to get various rewards. This encourages gamers to put on their thinking caps and, well, think. And to gamers, I know some puzzles can sometimes be really mind-boggling, but don’t Google the answers. It’s for your own good.
Gamers deal with numbers all the time. Most games reward the players gold/gil/dollars/potch or whatever the in-game currency is called. Players can use this currency to buy equipment that they can use to get stronger. It is rare for players to actually pick up a pen and paper to do written arithmetic but the mind is doing the work. The best thing about this is that the player is unknowingly doing Math and doing it repeatedly, therefore resulting in mastery. Math is all about mastery. In fact, one study shows that children who play video games had improved Math scores.
Making Decisions Under Pressure
Many games require players to make decisions in the heat of the moment. And while the decisions made may not always be the optimum choice, the fact remains that video games train players to quickly analyze a situation and act on how to best achieve the desired outcome. In real life, the gamer may show more composure in difficult situations as they are used to dealing with these situations in video games.
In many video games, players need to manage their resources in order to do well. In real-time strategy games such as Warcraft and Starcraft, managing resources is a crucial aspect of the game. The players must generate various types of units which utilize varying levels of resources to achieve the goal of annihilating the opposing force. Even in simple role-playing games, players need to outfit their characters using a limited amount of resources. The player must utilize his/her resources wisely to make the game easier to beat.
We all know some people who are poor with directions but don’t expect your average gamer to get lost. In video games, navigation is a way of life. Gamers traverse sprawling cities, dense forest, and other types of environments all the time. They look at maps and other context clues to unlock secrets or to get to their destination. When given a location to reach, the gamer analyzes and takes the quickest route to get to the destination. Or in some cases, take the long route intently to get some goodies along the way. Do I need to spell it out for you? Treasure chests.
Video games also enhance one’s memory, especially when playing RPGs. Sometimes, NPC’s will give clues to the locations of secrets or remember a pattern, or a string of numbers that a player must remember to unlock a door or a chest. There are also games that focus solely on the memory aspect. One study actually shows that video games enhance a child’s memory and neural connectivity.
Some scenarios in video games are based on historical facts. So it comes to no surprise that many gamers can learn more about history and mythology than your average person. However, one should not take everything mentioned in video games as historical facts. Usually, the writers often inject fiction to make the story more appealing. So take history lessons from video games with a grain of salt. Playing a game set in World War 2 probably won’t get you to ace that history exam but it will at least provide you with some insight on the state of affairs during World War 2.
Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary
Many video games require reading through walls of text so it’s not surprising that video games can increase a gamer’s reading comprehension. Along the way, the player can even add a word or two to his word bank. Just browse the Story-Rich tag on Steam and you’ll find a wealth of games that require a lot of reading.
Creation is a selling-point of many video games and for good reason. People feel good when they create something and a game that brings out the creative in a person is just wonderful. Minecraft is just one game that has thrived from this creativity aspect. Just google some Minecraft images and you’ll see what I mean. Many people have recreated cities and other works of art in Minecraft. The Building tag on Steam will provide you with a plethora of games that will test your creativity.
Leadership and Teamwork
In many MMORPG’s, players are allowed to form guilds and these guilds are usually led by the player who created the guild. Basically, anyone can be a leader. In guilds, players work together to achieve a common goal. It could be beating a difficult dungeon that is impossible to do alone or to defeat an opposing guild. These dungeon raids and guild wars require leadership and teamwork. The leader must show good leadership traits to get other players to follow. Since these raids and guild wars usually require team effort, coordination and teamwork between guild members is crucial. Each member must fulfill a specific role for the group to succeed. In a basic set-up, the tanks must be at the frontlines to protect the archers and the mages. The mages and arches deal damage. Healers, on the other hand, must support the guild members through healing and casting defensive or offensive buffs.
Most video games have a story that provide a lesson in empathy. However, there are also video games that provide players with various choices that affect the outcome of the game. In these games, the players can choose to be a “hero of justice” and always make the righteous decision or be a total douche/maniac and slaughter entire towns. Despite these moral choices in games, a study shows that most gamers pick the moral choice. Gamers mostly choose the option that is in line with their own moral compass and the result is often being the good guy. Though there are some games that are violent just for the sake of being violent, that doesn’t mean people who play the game also become violent.
Sportmanship and Communication Skills
E-sports is at it’s peak. Players from all over the world compete in various tournaments and the world stage for various competitive games such as League of Legends, DoTA 2, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. All these games have one thing in common: they are team games. Players that belong in a team must develop their communication skills in order to do well in these team-based games. While many online gaming cocommunitiesave been notorious for being toxic, sportsmanship is still promoted in competitive play.
MMORPG worlds have their own economics. Many players try to understand and game the economy. While not as complex as real-world economics, video game world economics still deals with the basic economic principle of supply and demand. If there is an abundance of a certain item and there is no demand, the price will drop. If there is a large demand for a specific item and the supply is low, prices will surge. Video games worlds also deal with currency inflation. While the amount of available currency increases, the costs of goods also increase as players have more buying power. This is true mostly for trading among other players since the cost of basic goods from NPC store hardly ever change.
When you play video games, you learn some random (probably useless) trivia that you never really get to use in real life. Well, there are times that these random trivia can come in handy in school. The instructor will compliment you for knowing that random trivia, and everyone will think that you’re a big reader. Deep inside, you are snickering because you just learned it from that medieval game you are playing. Sometimes that random trivia can impress a girl or make yourself look cool when you’re hanging out with your friends. Random trivia’s not so useless anymore, eh?
If you are passionate about your hobby as a gamer, stand up for it when it is being criticized by people who have never played a video game say that they are a waste of time. Tell them how wonderful video games are and how the skills you learn in video games have helped you in your daily life.
What other skills have you acquired from playing video games? Let us know in the comments!