5 Real Skills Video Games Have Secretly Been Teaching Us
We've all been there: bored on a Sunday night, minding your own business and playing some video games, when some ostensibly more productive member of society happens by and asks, "Why are you wasting your time with that? Do something useful instead; nobody's ever learned anything from a video game." First of all, it's kind of your fault for playing Xbox at the Senior Citizen's Home for Narratively Convenient Dickhead Bystanders. Second: Well, that's just not true. Video games have been teaching us all sorts of skills for years now, it's just that we don't always think to thank them for it.
TimingIn 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
"Two steps forward, one step back, we come together becAAAA MY SPINE! I CAN SEE INSIDE OF MY OWN SPINE!"
OrganizationOrganization 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
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
Interior DesignUnless you're in charge of the barricade-building when terrorists inevitably take the Bravo building, your life is probably never going to hinge on interior design proficiency. But it is, nonetheless, a skill we all employ frequently, and one that gaming drills into us like Mr. Bubbles into an uppity Splicer. Sure, there are the obvious "design your home" games, like
... but you still have to arrange the mirrors so the beam touches the sun, and to do that you're going to need to grab the fourth block from the left and-Block puzzles are prevalent in everything from
"You've got some really acute breasts. No, that's not a pun. They're triangles. Your tits are triangular."Block puzzles won't teach you Feng Shui or color coordination, of course, but they will teach you how a room fits together. And you'll use that skillset every single time you move house, as you will invariably have to shove an eight foot couch through a three foot door into a six foot room. If you've played enough block puzzle games, that changes from an impossible feat to a simple matter of rotation: Lift the couch vertically, pivot it on the arm, put the credenza over here -- no, you've got to rotate that 90 degrees -- and voila! It fits against the wall here without an inch to spare. Ladies, if you've ever wondered what an avid game player can bring to the table that an average man can't, just wait until moving day: The gamer will have you comfortably reclining on your pristine leather chaise in minutes, the coffee table and ottoman perfectly placed so as to optimize flow of movement, while the non-gamer will still be outside, cursing an uncaring God and firing up a chainsaw.
Resource ManagementResource 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
"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
And now you will never again be apart.
Basic MoralityThere 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.
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
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.
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