How have games helped you with real world skills?

This is a thing I think about pretty often, and I’ll come up with some of my own examples to start.

Reading. I played Link’s Awakening*when I was 4 years old, and while it wasn’t what taught me how to read (I started reading when I was about two and a half years old), it certainly advanced it, considering how writing-heavy it would be for a kid at that age. Pokemon and Harvest Moon 64 probably helped as well.

Map Reading and Directions. There are so many maps in games that a certain point it makes sense that you’d start to pick up on reading them efficiently. I’m able to draw maps in my head and visualize where to turn and things like that, and I think part of that has to do with always knowing where you are. Dark Souls, funnily enough, helps the same way, but with its lack of maps.

Personability. More of a soft skill, but Persona 4 made a big impact on how I approach situations with other people. I’ve become someone who says yes to things, whereas before I was much more withdrawn.

Your turn!


Games have helped me realize that chopping grass can occasionally reward you with money


If things get tough, look for a FAQ to help you out. Served me well. Still Googling my way to the top.


Phantom Hourglass tought me so much yo, that game is still absolutely excelent for kids. Basically all the puzzles revolve around using the map drawing feature to note down key information, and the ones that don’t are logical thinking puzzles. It helped so much with my capacity for absorbing information and taking notes, which I didn’t appretiate until a lot later. Like, considering how much I struggle with reagrds to my autism, stuff like remembering names, processing context, knowing boundries, I’d almost certainly have struggled a lot more with paying attention and recognising key information if it wasn’t for stuff I learned playing Hourglass as a kid. Bloody good game. Controls like a dream too.

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This was me with Link’s Awakening and Ocarina of Time! Especially the latter, these things are second nature now, but figuring out the game’s logic and how the puzzles work really helped me with my problem solving skills as a kid. Good times.

Honestly, I wish.

Mass Effect (and to some degree the other bioware games) made me understand conversations and the consequences of what you choose to say. So it more or less teached me how social interaction works to some degree.

In general games have taught me about how other people live and think, or in more general terms they keep training my ability to consider the lives, experiences and desires of humans in general by continually putting me in contact with more and more varied ways of doing things. This, however, is not unique to games and is also something I use to “calculate” the value of any given work of media.

In all honesty though, a serious foray into games and games academia has given me a greater appreciation for systems and the role they play in shaping our actions. One of my favorite examples of a game that’s helped me to critically examine systems is Michael Brough’s VESPER.5; it allows you to move once per day, and the game takes a minimum of ~180 moves to complete. I still haven’t finished, but it’s really helped me to lay a groundwork for some kind of daily ritual. I’ve changed its role in my life a few times; where it used to be something I just pulled up and did at an arbitrary time of the day, I use it nowadays as a way to mark the beginning of my day. I get out of bed, make a move, and that little action gives the first bit of momentum to my morning.

I think games are uniquely posed to allow for these kind of critical examinations of systems in an environment free of consequences, and I hope to see more stuff like VESPER.5 pop up in the future.


video games have helped me immensely at my job at the towers of hanoi factory

i think mental mapping/navigation skills is a big one for me. i have a decently easy time of getting familiar with layouts of different cities and i think that is definitely in large part due to playing a ton of gta as a kid, as i didn’t really travel a lot at the time.

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I second the stuff about mental mapping and learning through observation. I find that I am often able to catch onto things without asking in real life, and maybe it’s because this is a thing you’re asked to do a lot in some games.

I often resort to walkthroughs rather quickly in games, rather than become frustrated in a way that isn’t fun, and I think that’s also helped me learn that it’s okay to ask for help when dealing with a work problem instead of getting progressively more frustrated or embarrassed.

Task managers (for keeping track of freelance work) are a way of measuring your work progress that feels kind of like ticking off sidequests, but that’s a stretch.

Working in the games industry is kind of cheating when it comes to this sort of question, because obviously playing games teaches you a lot about how to make them; not everything, mind you, but the play experiences you have inform the kind of experiences you’ll try to pass on to others in what you create.

Cheating aside, Tetris Attack, (or Panel de Pon, Puzzle League, etc.) was extremely formative for me…

Pattern Recognition: Learning what felt like color and shape “true sight” was a revelation. Much like discovering how to defocus ones eyes to better spot movement, learning to rapidly parse board states awakened me to the raw bandwidth of that visual cortex connection. (For kids that weren’t asthmatic weaklings I assume this occurred during some sort of sporting activity, like a ball appearing to slow down before being struck/caught.)

Practice Makes Permanent: Returning to Planet Puzzle League on a 3DS today is surreal; I still retain skills that go unused for years at a time. I was familiar with the “like riding a bike” adage as a kid, but I never STOPPED riding a bike, so the first time I actually felt this effect was returning to Pokemon Puzzle League on the N64 long after the SNES got mothballed.

Trying is Rigid, Doing is Fluid: This was the first competitive multiplayer game where I discovered that focusing on the task of playing wasn’t as effective as letting muscle memory and cognition do their thing. I entered my first true “flow state” while debating something unrelated with a third party, discovering that while I was preoccupied, I had been crushing my opponent with 8-12x chains I was struggling to perform in “tryhard mode”.

Oh man, I would be Employee of the Month every month at the Towers of Hanoi factory.

In all seriousness, I am pretty sure Dragon Age:Origins taught me map-based navigation.

Not Everyone Shares the Same Goals: I played Counter-Strike for years with a close group of friends. When we got bored, or weren’t in the mood to “play seriously”, we’d create our own rules and objectives. For example, if one of us was on the Terrorist team and the others on Counter-Terrorist, the Terrorist would hide the bomb outside of the game geometry and type “lozl” into all-chat. Then our CT friends would try and hide until the time ran out. Or in the map as_oilrig (this was CS 1.6 and earlier), we would try and boost people through the floor so that the VIP could easily win. Even if we lost the actual game, we would create our own win conditions of what “success” meant.

This has become especially apparent during the recent US election: not everyone is playing by the same rules and not everyone has the same goals. During a debate, there are judges. But if you play to the judges, and not the American people, then you’re going to lose the election. If you want people to discredit the media, then it doesn’t actually matter who is “right” and who is “wrong”, just that people lose trust. My time playing Counter-Strike, bundled with my time as a college essay tutor, has taught me that you can easily tear down any argument by simply identifying three things: Who is speaking? Who is their actual audience? What are they actually trying to accomplish?

Bloodborne reminded me that you can be good at most anything by being bad at it for long enough.

It reminded me that trying new things might not be immediately pleasant but can grow into something rewarding.

(A similar thread was posted today and locked due to being too similar to this one, so I’m bumping because it sounded interesting and there was a thread already!)

Learning humility by being bad at competitive games, then slowly getting better at them, is very translatable to the real world. To really learn this lesson, though, it’s best if it’s a 1v1 game… in team-based games it’s too easy to avoid this lesson because you can always blame your teammates for not pulling their weight, whether that’s true or not. Fighting games are great for this.

Playing Street Fighter 4 online taught me a lot of this, but it’s been reiterated a few times over the years. Singles in Rocket League, duels in For Honor, and most recently the Puzzle Fighter remake. In Puzzle Fighter it was pretty easy to blame the pay to win aspects for my losses at first, but doing a bit of research I was able to play more intelligently and saw a big boost in my success. My wins and losses feel earned.

English. As a Dutch boy in the 90’s, Age Of Empires 2 helped me learn a good chunk of English (and some history) next to Discovery Channel, subbed cartoons (thank you 90’s) and… the Tell Sell Channel

Whaaaat? I liked all the infomercials for the cooking stuff because I loved to gave at all that delicious food.

How to deal with groups. Playing WoW as a teenager and being a raider definitely helped me deal with groups, both in college and as a GM when playing tabletop RPGs

Next to those things I suppose there’s also the usual things like spacial awareness, hand-eye-coordination and map reading.

16 and 32-bit RPGs taught me a bunch about budgeting and delayed gratification. Those games got me asking questions, like do I really need to blow all my gil on a shiny new sword when my current one was fine? Or do I really need to waste potions if I leveled up my party’s healing capabilities? It’s funny how well those lessons apply to managing household finances.

Also, Harvest Moon took those concepts and mapped it to a “real-world” scenario, and that blew my 7 year old mind.

I’ve recently started learning Kendo and aside from the obvious parallels, I’ve found that a surprising number of skills and lessons I’ve taken away from my time with the Souls series have had a significant influence on the way I’m approaching and practicing the martial art.

Reading my opponent, timing my attack and of course, repeatedly failing until finally succeeding.

The skills in patience, practice and ability to enjoy and appreciate failure as part of the learning process are things I significantly lacked before encountering the Souls games and have most definitely enhance my experience with Kendo.

Music, to a large extent. It didn’t actively teach me how to compose but I would say a very big component of what I consider influential to my composing style comes from games.

From NES onwards I would pay very close attention to game soundtracks, record them onto tape so I could listen to them outside of the game, and a lot of what I enjoyed got internalised to the point that I can still recognise those influences in what I write today.

I think that my approach to melody and structure in music is very closely related to the video game music I grew up with.