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5 Real Skills Video Games Have Secretly Been Teaching Us

#2. Resource Management

Resource management is as fundamental a skill-set in the job world as it is in most game genres. In First Person Shooters, you have to carefully ration out and preserve your various types of ammunition. In Real Time Strategy, they're actual resources that you manage: Building materials, fuel, elements, manpower, etc. In Role Playing Games, it's your inventory: Potions, revives, antidotes, and weapons. In any RPG, two thirds of the player's time is spent shopping or organizing menus, and if you have just the right kind of OCD, it's even more than that. Some gamers are way too busy figuring out who could make the best use of this hair-tie and how many fire gems they can carry without dropping potions to ever bother with stopping the bloodmarch of Drogos, the Lizard God.

"Listen: The Sundered Berserkers are going to have to stop their own pillaging, OK? I'm alphabetizing potions."

And in nearly every RPG, you'll encounter the same problem: Eventually, you'll wind up with an item just as overpowered as it is rare. It's almost too good to use. So what do you do with it?

The answer, as every gamer out there has just quietly realized, is "nothing." You save it. Forever.

Every game of Left 4 Dead ends with an untouched First Aid Kit, every Pokemaster is left still clutching the Master Ball as the credits roll, and after Necron falls, poor Zidane has to make a few calls and see if the local thrift stores accept Dark Matter. If you've ever ended a Square-Enix game without an Imperial Fuckton of Megalixirs cluttering up your inventory, then you were likely either drunk or suffering from severe head trauma to the part of your brain that manages impulse control.

And now you will never again be apart.

So how does that help you in real life? Simple: All you have to do, as a gamer, is apply this logic to your savings account. Every paycheck is a Megalixir, and somewhere out there is a boss so tough that you'll eventually need it, so you'd better hang on to it for now. And if you never end up using it, so what? You just proved you were too badass to ever require it in the first place. Congratulations: You just unlocked the Comfortable Retirement Achievement.

That's right: Every epic struggle for the fate of the Never-verse, every dire quest to save Edenia from the Shoggoths, every snowy trip into the Frozen Wastes -- they've all just been extended metaphors for your 401(k).

#1. Basic Morality

There are all manner of places to learn about morality aside from video games. Your parents, your pastor, your favorite teacher, books, movies -- every one of those things should have taught you the value of doing good way before you first picked up a controller. But do me a favor and load up any comments section on the Internet ...

Clearly, it's not working.

Once you remove the immediate threat of physical consequences, every third person turns into a raging, emphatically null psychopath. And sadly, as is evidenced by Xbox Live, many of them are also gamers. But why? My theory: They're either not playing the right games, or else not picking up the inherent lesson in them. Because every so-called "open-world" game on the market is there to teach you one thing: Never, ever choose evil.

"Sure, you can crucify those guys, but you won't have many friends." -The ridiculous misconception game designers operate under.

Mass effect, Oblivion, Fallout: Every single one of them presents the player with a "choice." You can be the hero, or you can be the villain. It's totally up to you. But it's always, always a trap. Good is the only right choice. The hero option in every one of those games will net you better companions, more interesting quests, and a more ultimately satisfying story. For example, here are the NPC companions from Fallout: New Vegas -- widely regarded as one of the better open-ended games in recent memory:

Good companions: Dr. Arcade Gannon, NCR Sniper Craig Boone, Caravan Trader Rose of Sharon Cassidy, Brotherhood Scribe Veronica Santangelo

Neutral Companions: Supermutant Lily Bowen, Ghoul Mechanic Raul Tejada, Prototype Eyebot ED-E, Cyberdog Rex

Evil Companions: Elite Corporal Jack Fucking Shit.

That's Jack up there in the upper right hand corner.

And even out of those "neutral" companions, all are actually pretty "good" personality-wise, and two are functionally useless besides: Lily is somebody's kindly old mutated grandmother, Raul is a hideous zombie ... who likes fixing toasters for people instead of devouring their children, and ED-E is a floating robot that somehow still sets off landmines. If you choose the good path, you keep all of them. If you choose the evil path, you'll eventually be forced to either lose or kill the laconic uber-sniper, the sassy lesbian who punches motherfuckers so hard they explode, and the rugged young doctor with the powered robot suit. Even when it's a choice, it's never a choice: Good will always be better.

And no matter how much we gamers might protest that - complaining about how bullshit it is that so-called open-ended games always neuter the villain's path when it could explore stories and concepts just as interesting as the hero's - even we have to admit that "be nice to people" is probably a fine lesson to learn.

Or wait, no, fuck that: Why do I have to risk my life to rescue every single box of lost kittens just to get a decent ending, you dirty, rotten, game-designing sons of bitches?!

You can buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Or you can school him in the comments section with your no-doubt encyclopedic knowledge of morality-based open-world gaming; that'll be sure to impress the ladies.

For more from Brockway, check out 5 Reasons GTA IV Is The Worst Great Game Ever Made and 5 Scientific Discoveries That Spell Doom for Your Penis.

And check out The All-New Cracked.com Zombie Page featuring our most popular zombie articles like 6 Signs You're About to be Attacked by Zombies and The Real World Fears Behind 8 Popular Movie Monsters.

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Robert Brockway

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