Video games, the bane of humanity’s very existence, that which brings only violence and destruction. Or so everyone would have you believe. To the world games are just another means of entertainment, something people do to pass time. While to others it’s just a waste of time and money. But what if we told you that games can actually have a positive influence on our lives? We’re not kidding. Games teach us essential skills to better manage our real life. Games aren’t just a rich source of interactive entertainment anymore. They have applications in various fields – medicine, engineering, architecture, to name just a few. Long story short, it’s high time to admit that gaming is not all bad. It’s enriching, in fact, and here are some invaluable skills you learn from it.
Gaming to Perseverance and patience
Anybody who’s successful in life will tell you that they worked very hard and that they tried and tried and never gave up. That’s perseverance; it’s an important life skill to have. Ever heard of grinding in video games? It’s not something too many people are fond of. But you’ll find that a lot of games (especially RPGs) have a lot of grinding in them. Even the really popular ones. Why do we grind? Because of the reward. We’re enduring a boring routine and repetition for a reward at the end of it. Do you know where the term grind comes from? It’s from a phrase, “the daily grind”, which was what the working class associated with their jobs back in the day. Suffer through mundane unpleasantness for a reward in the future.
Games are preparing people not to expect rewards right away, but earn it through hard graft. After all, good things come to those who wait, right?
Gaming to Forward thinking and personal accountability
You can’t do well in real-time or turn-based strategy games unless you think a few steps ahead of your opponent. Being able to access a situation and think forward about what the consequences of an action might be is invaluable in such games. Additionally, these games also teach you resource management. Research has shown that those who played RTS games have managed their money better and kept better track of their expenses. Thinking forward is an invaluable skill to have in any situation.
Similarly, most RPGs teach personal accountability. Similar to thinking a few steps ahead, you have to deal with the consequences of decisions you made in situations that were under your control.
Gaming to Socialisation and leadership
Nope, we kid you not. Even though gamers are normally depicted as cavemen and basement dwellers, or the next terrorist waiting to happen, most gamers are anything but these misleading stereotypes. The rise of online gaming means you need to be a team player (at least at some point of time). So you can see how socialising is literally forced upon you. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for gamers. Those who are shy might be more willing to open up and speak with strangers over a game they both enjoy. Similarly, if their will to win is stronger than their shyness, they will eventually communicate.
Now for leadership, if you’ve ever played a largely online game then you’ve probably heard of guilds and clans. You’re probably in one yourself. The thing about these is that managing them is no easy feat. Especially with the scale of some of these guilds and clans with hundreds if not thousands of members in some cases. Guild leaders who single-handedly manage such guilds and clans while resolving conflicts, maintaining a guild/clan schedule, and more, have the term leader in their title for a reason.
The skills learned here are not too different from the ones needed to manage a real work team.
Gaming to Evoke sympathy and empathy
Video games are notorious for being violent and numbing our senses to violence and gore and destruction. Basically, video games turn us into sociopaths. That’s the accusation, anyway.
Then there are games that do quite the opposite of that, and a lot of them are fairly mainstream. Not every game is a Call of Duty or Battlefield or Grand Theft Auto. Many games are narrative-centric and rich with story. More often than not, video games do a better job than movies and books of telling a tale. And most of them evoke our senses of empathy and sympathy for the characters in them and the situations they’re in. Just look at games like The Last of Us, Firewatch, Life is Strange, The BioShock series, or even NieR: Automata. They’re full of “the feels”.
And they claim video games promote violence and destruction. That claim plucks at our heartstrings. *Sniff*
Gaming to problem-solving & Brain training
It’s a niche gaming category but it’s a gaming category nonetheless. Brain training games are directed at improving one’s mental alertness and overall functioning.
These are games that enable you to think faster on your feet, adapt better to situations and improve decision-making.
Games that fall under this category are games like Sudoku, Tetris, Memory and similar matching games. Even Minesweeper falls under this category, which is probably a mystery to most millennials reading this right now.
Research has found that parts of the brain (the parts related to memory, muscle control, strategic planning, spatial navigation) get bigger as a result of playing such games.
These kinds of games stimulate the mind, so think of it as exercising the brain muscles and keep them in proper shape. They can help improve mental functionality and have proven to be very effective therapy for the elderly and those suffering from conditions like Alzheimer’s.
It has also been proven that games can actually slow the mental ageing process by delaying mental decay. Playing games require you to take certain complex actions, it has to be a challenge after all, even if it’s an easy one.
Gaming to Deal with mental problems
As mentioned earlier, games also have positive impacts on brain development and can improve mental functioning. With more and more studies coming out in favour of this, game developers and scientists are coming together to create games, which tackle mental issues like depression and dyslexia.
Using games to battle addiction
We know what you’re thinking, how can a form of addiction help you get rid of another type of addiction? Well, it’s not quite what you’re thinking. Games are being used as a distraction, to fight addiction. And they’re very effective distractions as we all know. They’re suggested as therapy for those rehabilitating from addictions to much more dangerous things like drugs. They’ve proven to be good distractions when cravings arise. Several studies have proven this trend.
Stress and anxiety release
This one should be pretty obvious. Games are a great way to get away from the day’s stress and anxiety. Sink your troubles away in another world, as you lose yourself in a virtual environment with little or no real-world consequences. Of course, you need to be smart and pick a game that doesn’t just add to your stress and anxiety!
Starting over and knowing when to quit
Often times we come across a point the game that just might be too hard for us. Or we took the wrong steps and ended up in a right pickle. After trying and trying we’ve come to the conclusion that we just can’t get past this level or beat this boss. There’s no shame in throwing in the towel. You tried your best and all you can do is start over. Knowing when you’ve reached your limit and not throwing yourself at the problem is a skill you can learn from video games too.
Gaming to Fitness
This segment is becoming fairly popular and well-known as of recent times. We’ve already got a host of games and consoles target at fitness, like the Wii Fit for example. One of the biggest issues people had with gaming was that you were sitting on a couch all day and not getting any physical exercise. Well, two birds one stone.
Succeeding at FPS games is impossible if you don’t have very good mouse skills. In a competitive game, being slow by even a fraction of a second can be the difference between winning and losing. According to a research by the University of Toronto back in 2014, playing such games improves one’s hand-eye coordination quite significantly as compared to those who don’t play games at all. That’s another point in favour of gamers, the ones that improvise, adapt and overcome.
We’re sure you’ve heard plenty about how gaming is bad for you, so we thought we’d give you something different for a change. We’re definitely not implying that this means you ditch school or other important work to game 24×7 because too much of a good thing can be bad. Right?
But anyway, here’s gaming to a better you. Cheers!
Manish "Trigger-Happy" Rajesh
If he's not gaming, he's... no wait he's always gaming.