10 Ways Video Games Help You In Real Life
Have some new excuses to play just one more level.
Has a relative or friend ever told you that video games are a waste of time? Fear not, because there are actually a lot of skills that you’ve been secretly learning while gaming your heart out.
Here are 10 abilities you’ve gained through video games...
1. Fast Reflexes and Instincts
You know that person that always feels the need to say “think fast” before chucking an object at somebody’s head?
Thanks to video games, you can indeed “think fast!”
A trailer for the Mythbusters planning to test Fruit Ninja.
Quite a few studies have been done that prove that playing video games actually allows you to react quickly to pretty much everything—whether it’s making a decision on the spot, catching a baseball, or jumping over streams of fire on Temple Run 2.
Temple Run 2’s Karma Lee gets ready to jump.
2. Keen Eyes
It’s also worth mentioning that people who play video games are often more observant than other people. We’re not perfect, but we’re definitely better than most people at noticing little things in our surroundings. After you’ve spent that much time looking for a fresh set of ammo, you get used to spotting the small stuff.
This mad scientist is queen of the mountains in Guild Wars 2.
Maybe that’s why so many gamers are bad at reading facial expressions—because we aren’t accustomed to characters having a lot of emotional range.
Are they... smiling? Or angry? Constipated, maybe?
One thing I learned while playing video games is that nobody is as sneaky as they think they are. Games have taught me that I need to be aware of all my surroundings—especially when there are guards and other people around.
Nothing to see here, folks.
I’ve learned from sneaking around Hyrule Castle that you have to be aware of which way the guards are facing and when they will be changing direction.
Meanwhile in the Dead Rising universe... (rated M for a reason)
4. Pattern Recognition
That’s right—we’re good at recognizing patterns. All those puzzle games are finally paying off!
Even Tetris has entered the 21st century.
Because gamers spend so much time studying intricate details, we’ve been trained to notice the little things and recognize how they are connected to each other. This can range from knowing when that annoying guard is coming around the corner to pushing heavy cubes into the right spot.
There are many types of puzzles in the famous Legend of Zelda series.
5. Cooperative Skills
Me and my homies always turn up.
Now, some people think that video games teach people that they don’t need to make IRL friends in order to have fun.
You probably prefer video game sports to “regular” sports. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s highly likely that someone in your life has encouraged you to join an athletic team of some kind. And they would always use that one argument about how sports teach you how to be a good teammate and all of that other happy stuff.
Don’t go printing this section out to go show your parents, but playing video games can contribute to being a good teammate.
Sometimes, playing with a sibling or friend can end in a screaming match, but overall, you do gain the experience of working with others and trying to figure out how to make a compromise so you can kick the butts of the bad guys.
The intro video for Portal 2’s Co-op Mode.
When you play Portal 2’s co-op puzzles and other such games, you have to work together to solve a puzzle. If you don’t communicate with your partner, then you can just enjoy running around the room for hours, because most of the puzzles do require a second person.
6. Directional Navigation
Now, I know I can remember my way around if I’m in a building, but most of the time, I am pretty terrible at remembering any sort of directions if they involve navigating a town or a set of roads.
But I can walk or fly around World of Warcraft’s Stormwind with no issue whatsoever.
Same old, same old.
I like to think that my ability to get around inside buildings comes from those days of playing the original Tomb Raider so many years ago.
Lara Croft ain’t afraid of no temple.
The Aperture company sure has a way with money.
Despite what people like to say about gamers spending a ton of money on new consoles and games, we’re actually quite frugal folks.
Don’t tell me you’ve never had a game where you end up saving every bit of currency and have millions of coins as you’re heading to defeat the final boss.
Hello, is it me you’re looking for?
Oh. This thing. Seems ... friendly?
Now, I know some people who have destroyed their game controllers before. And you can tell a lot about a person by how they react to having slow Internet.
But the most persistent people I know are people who fight the tough boss battles over and over while they figure out a strategy.
And let’s not forget about the veterans of Legend of Zelda games who spend more energy working on dungeon puzzles than a lot of people spend on their job or their homework.
The Dark Souls series is always seeking new ways to challenge players.
Those dungeons bring out another important side of being human: creativity.
It’s obviously pretty easy to point out that creativity comes out in all types of games, especially ones where you can decorate your house, town, car, or whatever.
A game doesn’t have to be serious in order to be enjoyable.
But you also develop creative problem-solving skills. People who play video games are often more inventive than other types of people, simply because we spend our time actively creating solutions for problems that don’t have a simple answer.
And that brings us to our last point, as the characters and plotlines follow suit with their complexity.
Want to be creative with your problem-solving skills and enslave a race of cute creatures? The Pikmin series might be for you.
10. Openness Toward Others
Meet the Sniper of Team Fortress 2.
One of the most important things I’ve learned, though, is that we can’t afford to judge people based on what they look like.
Some of the scariest characters have the capacity to be interesting, helpful people.
Dragon Age’s Morrigan might seem intimidating, but she’s a pretty cool woman.
Some of the most helpful people hide behind a shy demeanor but are able to really fight when it comes push to shove. A character will sometimes seem like they don’t have any real skills at all, but then they develop into the best lock-picker you’ve ever seen.
Or perhaps, in a wicked twist, your favorite character turns out to have been the villain all along.
You really should know better than to attach yourself to characters after The Great and Powerful Oz turned out to be merely the man behind the curtain.
But that’s how we grow. We all learn to be careful of who we ally ourselves with.
It’s okay to be open to people who seem like they won’t be any help. But it’s also okay to be suspicious of people who seem like they are too perfect to be for real.
Everyone—both characters and real people—has their own life and secrets. People just aren’t always what they seem on the surface.
Remember when you saw Shrek for the first time? And remember how you felt when you learned more about Fiona and her secret? That complexity of character applies to so many characters I’ve seen in video games.
Sometimes, what they seem is what they are—if your sidekick seems annoying through most of the game, then they’re just annoying, and I’m sorry to have to be the one to break it to you.
But something I love is being surprised by how multifaceted and interesting the characters can become if you give them a chance to develop.
Elizabeth: more than meets the eye.