15 Lessons To Learn From Gaming

Since politicians started to blame them for virtually every bit of societal discord that happened throughout the ’90s and early 21st century, video games have gotten a bad rap as prerequisites to misdeeds. They corrupt our youth and drive them to commit atrocious acts, or at least that’s what we’re told.

This shortsighted thinking overlooks the many good things the gaming industry has contributed to society. If you think about what gaming entails and peruse some of the games out there, you’ll realize that life lessons are sprinkled in them here and there.

Don’t believe us? Check out these unlikely lessons we learned from playing our favorite games.

1. Failure Isn’t the End

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Whenever you can’t succeed in something, it’s very tempting to give up and walk away. Imagine if you did that in a video game. Every “game over ” screen would be the last time you touched that game. Failure is part of life. If video games have taught us anything, it’s to hit “restart” and try again.

With each attempt, you learn something new to help you progress even further. It’s okay to put the controller down and take a break. Just don’t give up if there’s even the potential for making it past that end boss.

2. Practice Can, In Fact, Make Perfect

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How many games are you able to pick up and master within seconds? Even the most proficient player takes a little time to understand the controls, get to know enemy attack patterns, and find the little tricks that make progress easier.

In life, you’re not typically going to be excellent at something the moment you pick it up. Whether you’re starting a new job, have just become a parent, started a difficult college semester, or are learning how to live with a new significant other, it takes time and patience to “perfect your game.”

3. Hard Work Pays Off

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You’ve probably been told this a dozen times, and your eyes have rolled through each conversation, but it’s true. Think of some of the most challenging games on the market today, like Dark SoulsSekiros, or Bloodebornes. They’re not easy for the average player, yet those players will attempt the same boss time after time until they work out the right formula.

Why do they do this? Because hard work is rewarding. The reward depends on the person, since some may just appreciate having bragging rights. For others, it’s progressing to the next area or rolling credits on the game. In real life, hard work can result in monetary rewards or uplifting feelings of accomplishment. It’s all about what leaves you most satisfied.

4. Not All Good Things Are in Plain Sight

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If you only look right in front of you for the best things in life, you’ll miss a lot. While playing games, we often veer off into hidden side paths or break through destructible walls to find the best and rarest items.

While we don’t recommend blowing up walls, you must understand that not everything you’re looking for will be obvious. It may take some exploring or going off into directions you otherwise wouldn’t take. There may be consequences for stepping off the safe path, but you never know what rewards await in the secret room waiting at the end of the path.

5. Be Mindful of Your Surroundings

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Have you ever dodge-rolled into an enemy’s attack in a game? Even with a wide view of the arena, you may misstep right into your untimely demise if you’re not paying close attention. Unfortunately, this is true for the real world, too. While you may not sidestep into a skeleton warrior’s swinging blade, it is possible to inadvertently walk into precarious situations.

Before you make a decision, consider what the outcome will be. As a simple example, question what could happen if you stepped out into the street without looking both ways. A more complex illustration could be the ramifications of making a difficult decision at work without weighing different outcomes.

6. Balance Your Budget

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Personal finances are not a big part of many high school curriculums. Thankfully, we have games like The Sims to turn to. If you’ve never played The Sims, you essentially build a person’s life from the ground up, from developing their personality to physically constructing where they live. When designing a Sim’s home, you have a limited budget to erect walls, purchase furniture, secure appliances, and add decor.

Much like in real life, in The Sims, you quickly learn the dollar’s value (or Simoleon in the Sims-verse). Unless you cheat, which isn’t an option in the real world without jail time, you only have a certain amount of money to spend. It’s a fun introduction to budgeting and the tensions of being an adult with a limited bank account.

You can also apply this principle to any RPG, where you must carefully spend skill points or manage your money to purchase that high-tier item you’ve been eyeing. Much of this mimics the realities of balancing your real-life budget to buy the things you need over the stuff you want.

7. Communication Is the Key to Success

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Anyone who’s played a co-op multiplayer game knows that communication is vital. You’re still communicating even if you use pre-set pings to alert teammates of incoming enemies or the best route to take to a goal. Some games require even deeper communication, like prepping for a raid in World of Warcraft.

Communication is just as important on the outside. These skills play a crucial role in our personal and professional lives, helping us develop relationships or successfully complete tasks in a team setting. Class curriculums often force communication through group projects. Instead, boot up Fortnite and jump into a duos game.

8. It’s Okay to Quit

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Earlier, we talked about failure not being the end. However, it can be if you need it to be. Sometimes, throwing in the towel and calling it quits is okay.

Let’s talk briefly about Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, a game designed to drive players crazy with its challenging and often unfair platforming. You may get to a certain height and keep falling, no matter how many different ways you try to move forward. If you start getting angry, it’s time to move on to something else.

In life, you may face a task or challenge you just can’t tackle. Maybe it’s not within your skill level. Maybe your mind isn’t present enough to allow you to succeed. Whatever the reason, if you keep hitting the wall, shift gears. Just as if you were to stop playing Getting Over It and start a different game, there’s no shame in walking away and taking on a new task when you’re more confident.

9. The Reward Won’t Always Match the Effort

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Just because you put in a lot of work doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed some great reward. In some games, you may go up against the biggest baddie and walk away with gear that’s nowhere near as valuable as the gear you hold. This can happen in life, too, to the point where you have to start understanding that the experience may be the reward.

Of course, we want a fair return for our work. However, if a video game can’t guarantee that, you can bet life will be a little harsher. This isn’t to say get used to disappointment. Rather, change your mindset as to what a proper return should be.

10. Take a Break Every So Often

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If you owned a Wii, you may remember a screen popping up occasionally, reminding you to take a break. During longer bouts of Wii Sports, the game would encourage you to pause and head outside. “Why not take a break?” it inquired with an image of an open window and flowing drapery.

It’s not bad advice at all. In fact, you should apply that concept to virtually everything in life. We’re only human, and just as we have our limits while playing video games, we also have our physical and emotional limits.

In life, it’s okay to take a personal day. It’s okay to refresh. It’s okay to press pause and come back later on when you’re refocused and rejuvenated.

11. Experiment in the Kitchen

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Games featuring crafting mechanics, especially those not forthcoming with what combinations yield which results, encourage you to try different mixtures for a potentially positive effect. Why not apply that concept to the kitchen in your home?

Be adventurous. Try different recipes, or see what happens when you mix two of your favorite foods. As some games have taught us, the kitchen can be a space for your creativity to run wild. Maybe you’ll hit the jackpot with something delicious, or perhaps you’ll have crafted the equivalent of the Baker family special from Resident Evil 7.

12. It’s a Big, Big World Out There

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Almost every new game reminds us that the world is vast and expansive. They feature massive maps that take forever to explore and present unique challenges, often distracting us from the main quest. That’s not too different from life, which takes place on a map that measures over 169 million square miles and is full of hidden adventures and innumerable side quests.

As games get progressively more advanced, their explorable landscapes continue to grow. Thanks to these ever-expanding adventures, it’s hard to forget that we live in such a massive world with so much to see and experience.

13. We May Be Our Own Worst Enemy

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Not to get a little dark, but a game like Silent Hill 2 offers a more dismal lesson. Protagonist James Sutherland goes toe-to-toe with gruesome horrors. As the game progresses, we can interpret that these fiends are actually manifestations of James’ subconscious. He is, quite literally, his own worst enemy.

If you’ve ever felt overly guilty about something or had a persistent negative attitude, you’re only really working against yourself. Silent Hill 2 teaches us that we can impede our progress and inadvertently hurt ourselves by letting in so much negativity.

14. It’s Okay to Let Go of Things

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This is a pretty simple lesson you’ve probably learned if you’ve ever played a game with limited inventory space. Essentially, you can’t hold onto everything. That pertains to both physical items and emotional baggage.

If you want to pick up that super rare armor in a game, you may have to relinquish a few things. In life, if you want to make progress, be successful, or be comfortable in your own space, you will likely have to release your grip on things that have happened in the past or personal effects that merely take up space.

It’s not always as easy as saying you’ll let them go, especially when discussing bad life experiences. However, it’s perfectly fine to get help in releasing them. In video games, that help may be a storage chest or another player with an emptier inventory that tags along.

15. You May Have to Take Risks

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Nothing good in life comes easily. Chances are you’ve heard that before, and if you remember some of your most significant video game accomplishments, they probably weren’t easy to achieve. Maybe you didn’t feel ready to go up against the Ancient Dragon in Dark Souls 2 but were anxious to make progress. So, you risked the bounty of souls you’ve accumulated and a portion of your health.

In life, much like in video games, risks are a big part of the progress we make. While you may be able to live a risk-free life, don’t count on that being the norm.


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