Remember when you were growing up and one or both of your parents used to question your gaming? Questions like “what do you think you’ll get out of life with that game?” or the classic, “Why are you so angry?!”
Well, fast forward a few years, builds, trophies, and broken controllers later, you find yourself working on games. Take that, mom.
That got us thinking . . . What did we all get from playing so many games? Everything from Super Mario Bros. to Castlevania, to WoW, many developers and industry professionals have fond memories. But what if there was more to it? What if that’s not all we got out of life from those games?
Organizing raids, messaging people in order to raid on time, and being open to changing things for a boss fight. These are all common actions of a good guild leader—and skills that help in the workplace. Think about it. At work, being a visionary earns you points. It means you know where you are, where you need to be, and that you’re creative enough to find ways to get there. Just like a guild leader looks at his/her style of guild and maps how to get there.
Good guild leaders motivate others and resolve conflict within the guild. And when they make mistakes? They know how to come back from it and apply their knowledge to better beat the obstacle. All fantastic qualities for work. Knowing how to get along, how to encourage, and being able to grow in a job? That’s an employer’s dream.
But it’s not just MMORPGs that have work-relatable skill sets. Consider electrical engineering in Minecraft, or Terarria. While games can’t properly teach you advanced concepts like this—what people go to college for—it can give you some basics like how to design working elements on a small scale. It can help you design small problem solving methods, or “engineer” ways to do things that take up too much time, like cleaning your apartment. Suddenly, you have a three-part hamper that makes sorting your laundry a breeze! Things like this can help you be more well-rounded and knowledgeable, hence making you a better leader.
And that’s not it! In RPGs you play as a protagonist that has a mission, which usually includes being a hero, saving NPCs, taking down bosses, and bringing peace and order to an otherwise dysfunctional world. Good leaders at work need to take on challenges too, and as such are often consulted when issues threaten the efficiency and peace of the company.
Learning Local Customs = Advancement
Back in 2014, Eric Ravenscraft wrote a piece for Lifehacker titled “Six Real Life Lessons I Learned from World of Warcraft.” Reading it, even players who have never played WoW can sympathize with Ravenscraft and feel just how much the game meant to him. Even how much leaving the game meant to him.
Why do we bring him up though? Well, one of his six reasons caught our eye above the rest:
“When you begin a job with a new company, start going to college, or meet your new love interest’s family, you’re not just facing new challenges, you’re integrating into a new culture. Everyone has been in the group longer than you and, in most cases, they have their own language, traditions, and methods. As the newcomer, your best bet for getting along is to learn their ways instead of sticking to your own.”
And guess what? The first time Ravenscraft played World of Warcraft, he encountered a strange language. “Table” was a sentence. It’s easier to write “table” than to explain that the table is something of value, like a conjure refreshment table.
When you first start a new phase in life, a new chapter with a new place or group of people, you’re going to be the odd man out. And the best way to advance is to be humble, say, “Thank you,” and learn.
Work Hard to Play Harder
Think through every possible game you have ever played and they all teach the same lesson: hard work pays off. Every single game. For instance, Skyrim taught us that getting endgame gear makes all the enemies weak. It also means you can sneak up on people that are directly in front of you. In Bioshock, the more you progressed, the more Adam and Eve you got. The more you had, the more you could use Plasmids. You get the idea.
Turns out this applies in real life too. We work to live, hopefully. We do what we do to sustain the quality of life we enjoy. To purchase those games we want to play, we must create, publish and market others. Gain enough experience, and suddenly someone else is getting you your coffee, not the other way around.
The Default is Meant to Be Built Upon
Finally, there’s a burning question. Who has ever taken one look at a default character in Fallout and said, “Oh, nice”? Fun fact, when there are articles dedicated to helping players avoid making ugly characters, you should know default presets in the game are enough to make a child cry.
The point here is that defaults aren’t always the best. In fact, defaults can be built upon. Much like you would take a preset and alter it to make a character your own, at work you get a manual, but it’s wisdom that makes you progress. Your parents mold you, but you alter yourself along the way. Friends teach you, but you eventually grow into your own person.
Video games get a bad rap sometimes. Comments about games being too violent, ruining generations, leading to obesity. But just like everything seems to give you cancer these days, gaming isn’t to blame. If you’re violent in nature, you’re violent even if you don’t play video games. Obesity can be avoided with a little exercise and healthy eating habits (Editor’s Note: A recent back pain issue has made this point all the more important. Get your exercise, kiddos). Gaming doesn’t promote the consumption of stale 7-11 taquitos. Gaming doesn’t tell you what you should be eating: parents do/did. And as an adult, you’re responsible for your health.
If anything, video games can teach a lot. How to be a hard worker, how to be a good leader, and how to manage your resources effectively, for instance. Games can teach us to think beyond the defaults, and get creative. How to be confident in your own skin and abilities or even how to get along with others.
So next time you get a day off and play games all day, remember this: you’re not wasting it, you’re learning valuable lessons.