In video games, as in comedy and premature ejaculation, timing is everything. And nowhere in gaming is that more evident than the guillotine obstacle -- usually a set of repeatedly closing blades, doors or blocks that only allow the player to slip through the jaws with a perfectly timed sprint. In Super Mario Bros., it's the Thwomps. In Ocarina of Time, they pop up in the Fucking Shadow Temple.
Important note: While it's technically just called The Shadow Temple, any dungeon that incorporates both invisible walls and Floormasters should always be referred to with the "Fucking" prefix.
Guillotine obstacles are most emblematic of the old-school Prince of Persia games. Most of your playtime was spent taking two sprinting strides to pass through one set of snapping blades, then hitting the back button as fast as you could to avoid stepping into the other. The whole series plays out like the video game adaptation of that one Paula Abdul video starring MC Skat Kat:
"Two steps forward, one step back, we come together becAAAA MY SPINE! I CAN SEE INSIDE OF MY OWN SPINE!"
So what does the guillotine obstacle actually teach us?
Ever walked your dogs on a summer day only to find that every asshole on the block has set his sprinkler to water the sidewalk? That's a guillotine obstacle. Likewise with traffic: In most cities, the lights along major thoroughfares are timed. The reds and greens sync up to keep you at a certain speed. Navigating stoplights isn't a gaming exclusive skill, of course; anybody can manage it -- floor it past one intersection, slam on the brakes and then wait for the next to turn. But if you're a gamer, you recognize the obstacle for what it is: A matter of timing. There's never any need to stop at all. As long as you pay attention to and catch the overall pattern, you can slip right through those lights like bullets in the Matrix. If the minutes shaved off your commute and decreased wear and tear on your car aren't benefits enough for you, just pay attention the next time you're driving beside some wanna-be Vin Diesel in a souped up Civic, zooming from light to light. The look on his face the fifth time you pass him in your Rondo doing a comfortable 17 miles an hour should brighten even the most dismal commute.
Organization is vital in your day to day life: Staying organized at work nets better job performance, while staying organized at home nets better hygiene (or at the very least, more efficient roach parades). And if you ever need to point to a skill that video games have taught you far better than any other medium, look no further than organization. Years of spatial-awareness based gaming like Dr. Mario have given gamers an exquisite sense of place and order matched only by Obsessive Compulsives and possibly the Third Reich. If worse ever comes to worse, a guy with a decade of Tetris under his belt can always get a job at a moving company or a grocery store.
Or as a doctor? This is how medicine works, right?
Even if you're not into puzzle games, you simply can't escape learning efficiency and space management. It's everywhere, in every genre. Take Resident Evil 4, for example: That's a game about fighting demons and the undead hordes, and still it stops and forces you to organize space -- in the form of your attache case -- just to bring the optimal loadout of weapons, healing items and ammunition.
That's the kind of incentivized training you just can't get from any other experience. No matter how many flat-packing workshops you take down at the local IKEA, you're always going to lose out to the guy who learned that a poorly packed suitcase meant that the undead would be feasting upon his glistening innards.