Video games can improve your life skills
There’s a lot that you can learn from all kinds of gaming. Whether it’s playing live dealer baccarat in New Jersey or sitting down around the Monopoly board with your family, games help us interact and, in many cases, they show us how the world works. Video games are no exception, and in fact, there are several skills that we can pick up and develop from playing them that we won’t necessarily learn from other kinds of games.
Despite this, video games still sometimes get a bad press in the mainstream media. Although they are now much more accepted than they were ten or 20 years ago, the non-gaming media tends to mostly write about video games in the context of their being a problem. The idea that excessive gaming represents a threat to young people’s mental and physical health, and stops them from pursuing other more worthwhile activities, still has a great deal of currency.
Of course, doing anything to excess is bad for your health, and video game addiction is a real problem for a small minority of gamers. For the majority who play video games as part of a varied and balanced lifestyle, there are far more benefits than downsides. Video games are fun, and they let us relax and escape the pressures of real life for a few hours. That, in itself, is a significant benefit. The fact that we can pick up some essential life skills along the way is a bonus.
Improve your concentration and focus
While there are still those who think that video gaming reduces your attention span, the opposite is true. To get to the end of most modern games requires a great deal of concentration and focus. A player needs to give one task all of their attention and effort for long periods to achieve a pay-off. Unlike old-style arcade games, modern video games aren’t about short-term gratification as much as long-term goals, and they require a player to be fully immersed in the gaming environment.
Along with teaching the ability to stay focused on one thing for long periods, many video games also require us to be able to do several things simultaneously. Not only that, but we also need to be able to do each of them well. Multi-tasking is a skill every serious gamer needs to develop, and increasingly this is something we need to be able to do in the real world. Whether you’re running a small business or juggling college work with a day job, multi-tasking is now an essential life skill that video games can help to develop.
Many video games are specifically strategy games, but many others require elements of planning and thinking ahead, developing skills that are eminently transferable to other life/work situations. Whether you’re working out how to get through a dungeon on your seventh attempt, calculating where the obstacles and assists are based on previous experience, or whether you’re thinking about how best to use the objects you’ve acquired, most video games favor the strategic planner over the impetuous enthusiast.
Similar to strategic planning, many games require you to think logically and to solve fiendish puzzles to survive and proceed, often working against the clock. How are you going to escape that maze or locked room before the demon reaches you? Can you crack the puzzle to unlock the next level? The kind of thinking this requires will also serve you well in the office, on the road, or even when putting together a household budget.
If there’s one thing every gamer learns, it’s how to cope with failure and defeat. You don’t shell out hard-earned money on a game you can complete the first time around. The most commonplace gaming experience is losing and then dusting yourself off and trying again. That is also true of life, and learning to handle rejection, defeat, and disappointment is one of the most important life skills we can acquire. The important part is that you not only try again, you think of new approaches and different solutions. Try them out, fail, look at what went wrong, adjust your angle, and try again.
These are just a few of the life skills that you can acquire through sensible gaming. Most gamers are creative, high-functioning, and well-adjusted members of society and they got that way partly because of the games they play, not despite them. So the next time a well-meaning partner or parent tells you that you’re wasting your time gaming, respond with the patience you’ve learned through years of playing and quietly carry on.