5 Life Skills I Learned from Video Games

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For most of my life, people have labelled video games as a waste of time. 

I mean, you could label any hobby as a waste of time, right? If you have a passion for something, I would never consider it a waste of time. 

Playing video games has taught me several lessons in life. It’s a shame mainstream media only address the negative aspects of video games (usually addiction or violence). There are a ton of practical skills that people develop when playing video games. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.         

Here are 5 life skills I learned from playing video games!

Problem-Solving

Source: Flickr

This might seem surprising, but you’re problem-solving in almost any type of game you play. And each of us approaches these problems in different ways.

I, for one, am a visual problem solver. I examine situations and use trial and error to achieve certain outcomes.       

For example, let’s assume you’re losing in a multiplayer game. How do you solve this? 

You might decide to change your weapon loadout to what suits the current situation. Maybe you feel that approaching certain zones of a map requires a different strategy to win. Or perhaps grouping with your team is more ideal compared to a lone wolf playstyle. 

Regardless of what you do, it should be timely and reasonable. Winners learn from failure and perform with good judgment.        

It’s no different for single-player games as well. I come across puzzles, dialogue choices, and difficult encounters all the time. Some are easy while others make me scratch my head in frustration. Nonetheless, I’m the type of person who loves to experiment with every option available. 

An example of this is when I play games using a stealthy approach. I look at various things such as enemy pathing, areas to climb (ladders, stairs, rope, etc.), weapons/abilities that bypass enemies, and several other things. With those factors in mind, I use my trial and error approach until I succeed.             

Whether you play online, or offline, your brain is problem-solving more often than you think! 

Socializing

People sitting at an esports event
Source: Matt Demers, Flickr

When I was growing up, I was a very shy kid. It was difficult for me to carry a conversation on certain topics. 

Sports? I rarely watched sports on TV. Cars? I didn’t care much about them. Video games? Pull up a chair, it’s going to be a hell of a conversation! 

Playing games with friends was a big part of my childhood. Before the internet became the platform for multiplayer gaming, my friends and I played games in split-screen (or local co-op) on one console. 

Halo, James Bond 007: Nightfire, and Mario Kart were some of my favourite multiplayer games in the early 2000s. Laughter, rage, and most importantly, lifelong memories were created thanks to gaming. 

As time went on, I moved to the PC for my online multiplayer pleasure. This is when World of Warcraft (WoW) took over my life. As unhealthy as it was, it forced me out of my shell. I became more social than ever before. I was meeting people from around the world, socializing via chat channels, and even leading several 10 to 25 person raids. 

These social behaviours eventually carried over from the virtual world and into the real world. I noticed I had less anxiety when talking to my peers and teachers during school. On top of that, I began to engage in online forums such as YouTube comments as well as Reddit. 

Interacting with people can be pretty cool sometimes!     

Patience 

Source: IO Interactive

Patience is the virtue that resonates with me the most. I learned at a young age that whining and begging do nothing for me. But being patient, consistent, and hard-working is always rewarded. Both in-game and in life. 

One series that everyone loves (or hates) is Dark Souls. At face value, they seem like difficult action games. But in reality, all you need is a little bit of patience and good timing. Almost every encounter requires you to dodge and attack during specific moments.

During my first playthrough of Dark Souls, I didn’t care about being patient. I wanted the bosses dead as quickly as possible. And let me tell you, I got my ass handed to me every time. The slow and steady approach was what worked for me.   

Another game I really enjoy that also requires some patience is Hitman 2. The Hitman games are fairly straightforward. Your goal is to assassinate your target(s) as stealthily as possible to get the best score (aka, Silent Assassin). 

Avoiding enemies and security cameras need to be done with near perfection. One mistake can ruin the entire mission for you.        

Outside of gaming, I use patience in my strength training. For example, I’ve been practicing my tricep dips for the past few weeks. I could try weighted dips with a 45 lb dumbbell and see how many repetitions I could perform. But is it worth it though? Yeah, I would look like a badass. But risking a shoulder injury isn’t worth the ego trip. Proper form is the key to strength training. 

Patience isn’t fun at times, but the end result is always worth it.   

Multitasking

Night elf hunter attacking a boss in World of Warcraft
Source: Chris Meyering, Flickr

A lot of things happen in the games we play. Games are no longer about moving left to right, up or down, and jumping over goombas. There is much more depth in the way we control and make decisions in current games. Especially those that are played at a competitive level

MOBAs are quite demanding when it comes to their multitasking requirements. Let’s look at League of Legends (LoL) as an example. I’ve been playing LoL on and off since 2010. I would call it a game that is easy to learn, but hard to master. The reason it’s hard to master is that there are so many damn things you have to learn and pay attention to!   

Here’s a list of game mechanics I feel LoL players consider important: 

  • Champion cooldowns (yours and the enemy)
  • Item costs
  • Timers(buffs/dragon/baron) 
  • Ward placement (your and the enemy)
  • Last hitting
  • Kiting
  • Crowd control
  • Lane pushing 
  • Recalling
  • Map awareness

Another genre that requires a fair amount of multitasking are MMORPGs. I have played a few over the last decade. WoW, Guild Wars 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Final Fantasy 14, and many others.

Most MMOs utilize the Holy Trinity system (Tank, Healer, DPS) to balance their gameplay around PvE and PvP content. In WoW: Classic, I currently play a Restoration Shaman. My responsibility is to keep the party/raid healed up at all times. 

In addition to keeping everyone alive, I have other things I need to look after. This includes my mana, ability cooldowns, positioning, boss mechanics, and more.  

As a result of these gaming experiences, I have seen improvements in my day-to-day tasks. My decision-making improved, reaction time increased, and I’m procrastinating less frequently.

Games that keep my brain busy are the ones I tend to return to!                      

Teamwork 

Esports players communicating during a match
Source: artubr, Flickr

I saved the most important skill for last! 

Playing multiplayer games with a group of friends (or random people) is a great way to improve your team-building skills. It’s fun, challenging, and can create new relationships. 

To this day, I still stay in touch with my WoW friends I met seven years ago. Time flies!

Not only does teamwork blend just about every skill I mentioned, it also provides plenty of other benefits. 

Contributing to a team can build trust, reduce conflict, increase communication, and can even encourage creativity. I personally feel more motivated when I’m part of a team. This could be a side effect of going to business school. Who knows. It’s a great feeling nonetheless.

When playing in a team game, I’ve learned that shot callers are quite important. They guide the team with strategic decisions that ensure the best possible outcome. Think of them as a boss or director. In WoW, my shot caller was generally the Raid Leader or the Main Tank. Like in real-life, not doing what you’re told can put you in hot water. 

Poor performance could lead to a potential demotion, trust issues, or even getting kicked from the team. I have witnessed my fair share of drama as well as people getting kicked from guilds. It’s not pretty!

Don’t be a dick. Listen to your shot caller. If he/she makes a mistake, learn from it. Inciting conflict only makes things worse! 

Another important trait I learned from teamwork is personal responsibility. Being part of a team is one thing, but fulfilling your responsibilities as a member can sometimes be a challenge.

In hero-based games, like Overwatch, you pick a character that is designed for a specific task. You can play as a tank, damage dealer, or support. The choice is yours. However, it is YOUR duty to play your character the way it’s meant to be played.   

I have seen people play support that don’t heal, tanks that avoid the front line, and damage dealers that play too aggressive and die. Not a fun experience.  

I feel beginners should get a free pass though. As they say, you gotta start from somewhere. You learn from doing. Your failures and experiences are what make you grow as a player.   

Experienced players, on the other hand, should be more accountable for their actions in competitive situations. 

When your team is flawless in their roles, it feels like magic!  

Conclusion

That’s enough rambling for one post. As you can tell, video games have made quite an impact on my life. I see these gaming skills often overlooked by non-gamers so I had to give my two cents on the matter. I hope I broadened your perspective a bit.

As for game recommendations, I assembled a list for each skill I covered. A mix of my all-time favourites as well as others the gaming community enjoys. I’m sure you’ll find something that fits your interest.

Most of these titles can be found at Green Man Gaming!

Problem Solving:

  • Resident Evil 2 (2019)
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • The Elder Scrolls 4
  • The Elder Scrolls 5
  • The Outer Worlds 

Socializing:

  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
  • Destiny 2
  • Final Fantasy 14
  • Grand Theft Auto 5
  • World of Warcraft

Patience:

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
  • Dark Souls 
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  • Hitman 2
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Multitasking:

  • Age of Empires 2 
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization V
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • Tropico 4

Teamwork: 

  • Divinity: Original Sin 2
  • League of Legends 
  • Overwatch
  • Payday 2
  • Rocket League

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