Non entertainment uses of video games

I’m Jamaican. Lived their my entire life, rarely left the country. I wouldn’t go as far to call video games a luxury but very few people stay on the cutting edge. In other words, lots of PS2s. One of the problems is that unused video games never depreciate significantly. For example, the original modern warfare for Xbox 360 costs around $50 USD as of 2016. It’s wild. Importing is also a hassle. We pay crazy customs on electronics so buying a console for a cheaper price off Amazon is not an actual option. You have to wait for a relative or someone to actually travel with it on the plane and hand it to you, face to face.

But, video games have an interesting use for a set of our population. Parents get hand me downs and old consoles to keep their kids off the streets. Gaming is a tool employed by some parents to keep their kids off the streets. In urban, dense communities, the streets are the pulse of the community. Football (soccer) games, dances, cook outs but also murder, robbery and crime.

So, in your life time, whether second hand or otherwise, what are some of the non-entertainment uses of gaming that you’ve experienced?


Learn English :slight_smile:

When I was 8 or 9 I played text adventures or point and click adventure games. My English was limited so I would ask my mom every minute “What’s this word mean? And this one? And how do I say this word?” After ten times she handed me a dictionary. "Here, look it up yourself."
Now, whenever I can I will bring up computer or video games when parents talk about their kids learning English.

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We all speak english in my family but my brother was never a big reader like the rest of us. for a long time growing up he would pull out some obscure word and mom would ask where he picked that up and almost invariably the answer would be Monkey Island.

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As hamfisted and probably full of inaccuracies it is, I learned a lot about the American Military Industrial Complex and the problems nukes and their stockpiles cause from Metal Gear Solid.

I also think it indoctrinated me to be distrustful of the government by default.

I’ll definitely second what Gonzo-Opera said about learning English. While it wasn’t how I learned English personally (although I have mentioned in other threads that Pokémon did help me learn how to read), but I’ve had a good number of friends over the years who learned their English from games, even ones as not-apparently-helpful as Kingdom Hearts. It’s definitely given me an appreciation for the unexpected benefits that playing games can bring (and makes me wonder if I should start playing games in French…).

like i’m an unemployed alcoholic who recently quit drinking and gaming has helped me keep my mind occupied. still depressed as fuck most of the time but video games help occupy that gaping hole that alcohol used to fill.

Yeah games are a great absorbing way to distract from anxiety/depression, tbh

Pokemon helped me with basic math at a young age I used to write down their HP and subtract damage and adding potions to remaining health and such. Pretty fun way to learn during elementary if you ask me lol. But also I moved alot before so I didnt have friends so my gameboy was my best friend and still is! Also radio stations from the Grand Theft Auto series introduced me to a ton a music.

Was anyone else subjected to awful, educational typing games in computer classes as a child? As annoying as they were I think they helped a bit.

I think I’ve mentioned somewhere here before but being an Embassy brat video games were often the best way for me to really connect with the country I barely spent any time from but was always labeled as coming from & sometimes being a representative of. As mentioned earlier in a lot of countries I lived in getting electronic imports was incredibly expensive so the people who usually owned consoles were other Americans who would return to the US during summer & winter breaks. Moving back to the US for college lead to huge culture shock but the thing that helped me the most to reacquaint myself with US culture was meeting people who were fond of video games.

I also mentioned in another thread that Hotline Miami helped me focus a lot of personal anger/depression into a safe space to stop self harming.

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There’s a few kids in the primary school class I help out in whose parents are illiterate, so I’m thinking of suggesting games as a way of helping them get that extra support at home, though I’ve no idea how to go about it in practice. I know it’s helped others, as a few of youse have mentioned, but I don’t know how you’d actually suggest it formally. There was brief talk about integrating Minecraft into lessons but the fact that basically all teachers can barely handle computers to begin with is the big roadblock there.

Problem with using games in an actual classroom environment is Game Literacy, the only stuff you can effectively use is stuff that’s easy to learn without prior knowlage of how games work in general. Non-Traditional Games need to get better at not relying on prior knowlage of games when designing the fundimentals I recon. Not just for the kids, but for the teachers too.

For other educational stuff though, there’s the Extra Credits EDU steam curator page. It’s not been updated in years unfortunately, and it’s based on an american curriculum, but there’s some really good suggestions in there. I’d love to see Elegy for a Dead World used in a creative writing class for year 5-6s.

I know education’s the obvious one, but it’s where I’m at right now so it’s what I can offer a small degree of insight into.

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I was! I didn’t mind that much, but this may have been because I was good at it and also the kind of child who very much liked to be good at things. (The fact that we were being taught computer typing at the same time as cursive handwriting makes me scoff a bit at black-and-white declarations about what The Kids are learning/have learned… then again, perhaps it was a very specific moment in time.)

There were lots of educational computer games, come to think of it – I know I had a friend who owned some Carmen Sandiego games and we’d play that quite happily, and at some point my parents bought me a Spanish learning game which I also enjoyed. These are all deliberate edutainment, of course, and weren’t repurposed.

As for repurposing… I don’t know if it counts, but I had a bit of a roundabouts backwards experience with parsers. Basically I came to be comfortable with command lines, in a laypersony kind of way, because I’d played parser-based text games. The usual received wisdom is that only programmers are comfortable with parser-based text games because they use command lines on the job, so for me it was the exact opposite.


I always did terribly with those games. As a matter of fact I think Runescape actually helped me with my typing more than anything else.

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I’m really interested in the idea that games could teach teachers how to teach (oh goodness I’m sorry that’s a mess), especially for early education (pre-school, kindergarden, early grade school.

So much of early education should be setting kids up to learn things on their own, instead of just telling kids facts, it’s about teaching them how to learn and understand things on their own (hopefully this makes sense). In this regard, the best games teaching you how to play the game, how to solve the games puzzles, how to speak that game’s language, without explicitly holding your hand and leading you to answers, but by guiding you and giving you hints so that you can discover and learn on your own. I wonder if the way we teach teachers to teach can learn from the best aspects of game design.

If the phrases to copy in those games were something like “Buying dragon bones 2k each, good deal!!!” we would’ve killed it.

Also on a separate note I just remembered, I think my early fondness for sports came from those backyard sports games from a while back. They were easy to play and included kid versions of actual players so were a good way to get to know the rules of different games and gain some knowledge about different team’s rosters.

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I’m pretty sure the actual first games I ever played were these children’s educational games about stuff like electricity and light and sound. And I can’t help but think that those are part of the reason I’ve always liked physics (and now study it).

@hope_shattered brought up Carmen Sandiego, and I have so many fond memories of learning about different parts of the world while playing Treasures of Knowledge.

Also, seconding, games definitely help me deal with anxiety and depression, or even just improve my mental health when I’m overstressed or breaking down. Especially the Half-Life games, or Shovel Knight (or lately Sonic Mania)—for some reason they have a way of just setting my mind at rest when everything else is haywire.

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