Gaming

8 Life Skills That Video Games Can Teach You

Joe Keeley Updated 28-04-2020

Video games can help you succeed at life. That might sound crazy to say, especially when some people believe that video games cultivate immaturity, violence, and even addiction. However, like most kinds of media, video games can be both good and bad.

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Video games can help shape you into a more productive member of society. They can teach you good traits, skills, and knowledge that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. So, here are the life skills that you can learn from playing video games.

1. Patience

Zen rocks

Old arcade games forced you to suffer through tons of repetitive gameplay to see how far you could go. Role-playing games with a level-up mechanic often encouraged repetitive monster fights to grow stronger. MMORPGs cemented the grinding concept while the free-to-play craze perfected it.

The ability to endure routine and repetition is one that will come in handy no matter what you pursue: grinding through homework, work projects, or money for a vacation.

Or in other words, the ability to suffer through something that’s unpleasant right now in order to secure for yourself something even better in the future. Some call it delayed gratification. Others call it patience and perseverance. Either way, life requires it.

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2. Strategic Planning

Planning

Puzzle games and strategy games will never go out of style and reach an even wider audience now thanks to mobile gaming. There are even puzzle games to play in your browser 20 Cool Puzzle Games You Can Play Free in Your Browser Browser-based games are perfect for a quick casual game. Pick one from these quick puzzle games to stimulate your brain. Read More . Both casual and hardcore gamers love and appreciate the kind of gameplay that stimulates planning and strategy.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see why this is such a valuable life skill. Can anyone argue against the practicality of planning income vs. expenditure? Of laying out a realistic five-year plan? Of navigating a fulfilling career path? As long as these aren’t taken to the extreme, they can be very helpful.

But even more so, this kind of thinking a few steps ahead is immensely important in social contexts. Should I say what I’m about to say? If I do, what are the potential consequences? What’s the right way to approach a tense subject or situation? Again, don’t let it paralyze or overwhelm you, but it’s a good skill to have in moderation.

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3. Socialization

Pair of friends

Perhaps the most popular gaming stereotype is the antisocial gamer who resides in a basement. Look past the stereotype and gaming is just another outlet, rather than a fallback, for social interaction.

Starting with the earliest consoles, before broadband allowed online play to take off, gaming with friends involved a physical gathering in front of a single TV. Even in today’s climate of online multiplayer gaming, gamers can communicate over voice and video chat.

It could be argued that gaming enables stereotypically introspective individuals to be more social, ultimately improving social skills.

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In the case of guilds and clans, socialization can evolve into leadership. It may sound silly, but there’s a lot of overlap between managing a guild and, say, managing a project team. Synchronizing schedules, mobilizing people towards a goal, inspiring motivation, and resolving interpersonal conflicts are all skills that can be learned from gaming and applied to real life.

4. Mental Prowess

Chess

There are games specifically designed to train and improve brain functionality—Nintendo’s Brain Age was one of the biggest mainstream hits. It offered plenty of activities that help with mental math, reading speed, and concentration.

But brain training isn’t limited to games that explicitly train the brain. Sudoku is all about logical deduction. Tetris helps develop pattern recognition skills. In fact, there are plenty of mobile games that make you smarter by exercising memory, matching, and thinking outside the box.

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Like muscles, the brain will atrophy if you don’t work it. The interactivity of games is one way to exercise your mind while having fun.

5. Empathy

Holding hands

Game designers are really starting to explore and incorporate the emotional elements that exist in other forms of media; the most important element being narrative. Some of the most groundbreaking and revolutionary titles ever are those emotionally weighty games that jerk at your heartstrings.

These types of games force you to relate to the characters and imagine yourself in their shoes, even if their experience isn’t something you’ve personally lived through. Sometimes you are given a choice where there is seemingly no right or good outcome. These situations develop a player’s sense of sympathy and empathy.

6. Literacy

Reading

Video games that have a heavy narrative focus can help people learn languages and improve their literacy, even introducing them to words they might not come across elsewhere.

Classic point-and-click adventure games are the perfect example of this, where you had to read the dialog between characters in order to understand the story and often understand culture-specific phrases and jokes.

Games like Minecraft and The Sims also get people interested in telling their own stories. This can then leap off the screen onto the page, with many gamers inspired to write their own fan fiction based on their favorite series or even a new creation of their own.

These text-based adventure games 5 Text-Based Adventure Games You Can Play in Your Browser Do you want to play text-based games in your web browser? Here are some great text-based games for anyone who needs some interactive fiction in their life. Read More are great examples of titles that improve literacy.

7. Hand-Eye Coordination

Archery

To play even the most basic video game, you need good hand-eye coordination. Whether that’s moving a character around or just clicking on something, the ability to synchronize your eye and hand movements is vital.

Of course, the better you are at this, the better you will be at some video games. Improve your hand-eye coordination and you won’t have to look down to see what button to press. Your reaction times will improve too.

Studies have shown that games help strengthen our hand-eye coordination. There’s so much that this skill helps with outside of games, whether it’s in sport, music, or just basic day-to-day tasks.

8. Observation

Binoculars

You need to be aware of your surroundings in a game. Perhaps you’re on the battlefield and an enemy just landed in the distance or maybe you’re a detective and notice a vital bit of evidence in the corner of the room.

Some games take this further and are built around the concept of observation. For example, L.A. Noire requires you to study the expressions of people you interview to try to determine if they’re telling the truth or not.

In the real world, these observation skills can be used to inform us about our environment and the motives of other people.

How to Make a Living Playing Video Games

These are some of the many life skills that you can learn from video games. Obviously, constantly playing video games with no other interests or hobbies isn’t going to turn you into a well-rounded person, but they can support a varied lifestyle.

But don’t go overboard. Too much gaming can lead to gaming fatigue and gaming burnout. Check out these tips on what to do if you’re feeling gaming fatigue and gaming burnout!

If you work hard and get lucky, you may even be able to earn a living from your hobby. Here are some ways to make money playing video games 6 Ways to Make Money Playing Video Games You can make money playing video games, but it isn't easy. If you are dedicated, this article covers how a hobby can make money. Read More .

Related topics: Gaming Culture, Personal Growth, Soft Skills.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Smili
    November 9, 2017 at 6:45 am

    Awesome article, also great observance made by Chris.

    I am not a video game player, but just a fan, and a 45 yrs old mom of a 16 yrs old teenager who is playing games since he was 5, and I was never contrary to it, even if I was most of the time seen as really weird mom.
    But since I was engaged in marketing business, and within in it, studied also communication, psychology and NLP, to understand socio-behaviours of subjects in my researches, I have understood how games can help my son with his low self -esteem and low concetration that he had in school.
    I had no idea about lots of other skills that he learned as well (like you described here) I figure it out he was better in concentration and motoric, but I can say that now, he has developed huge number of life skills than I put more than 20 years to learn, and as a single mom on a teenie boy I am so happy with his behaviour more than other moms who laughed at me and judged me badly.

    Money management, true, really important skill to learn in young age.. my son most of his games he buys himself, he also found a way to auto-finance himself with youtubing about games.. so one of the skills is entrepreneurship too :-)
    Also learn how to deal with people, is priceless.

    Great job guys, and keep doing what you love! Advice from one mom.
    Cheers.

    p.s. I am not player, but I adore listening AC Black Flag soundtrack music while working on projects that require great focus and concentration, so mom has learned one skill too ;-)

    • C.B.
      April 7, 2018 at 8:06 pm

      Excellent article, and good comments. I found your article while trying to see what skills my ASD son already has, to give me a direction to helping him expand his skill set and perhaps find his calling.

      Another skill that gaming develops is learning how to manipulate an object in a virtual 3D space using non-instinctive means - WASD is a typical means of movement, becomes second-nature, and with so many other options you can do incredible things remotely and naturally.

  2. Zackary Strand
    July 12, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    One thing I noticed while travelling is how useful understanding navigation is. Being able to read a map is a great tool. I played alot of open world games.

  3. Jun
    August 14, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Well written!

    How can I cite this relevant article?

  4. blu
    June 20, 2016 at 1:46 am

    hey thanks for this it really helps

    • Joel Lee
      June 24, 2016 at 1:45 am

      No problem! Glad it was useful to you, blu. :)

  5. andrew
    April 14, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    thanks for the good info

    • Joel Lee
      April 18, 2016 at 10:07 pm

      You're welcome! Glad it was helpful, andrew.

  6. andrew
    April 14, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    i learned a lot of this

  7. Jeffrey Vetterkind
    April 6, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    Thank you! Your article was useful for the essay that I am writting

    • Joel Lee
      April 12, 2016 at 10:49 pm

      Glad it was useful, Jeffrey! :)

  8. Alex
    March 18, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Great article. This really helped me out with the essay I'm writing. Thanks!

  9. Norway
    March 3, 2016 at 12:17 am

    I have to writing a easy and this website was PERFECT!!!! BTW this site was very well written.????????

    • Norway
      March 3, 2016 at 12:19 am

      Sorry for the ? at the end that was my brother.????

    • Joel Lee
      March 14, 2016 at 8:14 pm

      Thanks Norway, I appreciate the kind words. :)

  10. dylan
    February 16, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Thanks for all the good info

  11. dylan
    February 16, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    I am doing research on what video games can teach us anything u guys recommend

    • sorry not sorry
      February 22, 2016 at 2:31 am

      cheese

    • Hi
      February 25, 2016 at 7:15 pm

      is this dylan from MS447?

  12. Butt
    February 9, 2016 at 12:38 am

    im also writing a persuasive essay on why video games a good/important

  13. Eugene
    January 28, 2016 at 3:32 am

    This is great and well written. I'm also writing a persuasive essay and this is very helpful. My essay is about the importance of the virtual reality in our lives.

    • Joel Lee
      January 28, 2016 at 11:03 pm

      Thanks Eugene! Glad the article proved helpful to you. Good luck on your essay. :)

  14. Plz Senpai
    December 16, 2015 at 6:43 am

    I learned fluent russian from Video Games 1 week I learned how to say 20 bad words in russian
    Im so proud

    • bob
      January 8, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      i like turtles

    • my name is jeef
      February 17, 2016 at 7:05 pm

      lol

  15. Dillon V.
    January 12, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Well, I heard that at Utah University, they are combining some video game and medical programs to help with children that have cancer or other life-threatening diseases. Pretty innovative stuff.

    • Joel Lee
      January 18, 2015 at 12:24 am

      Wow, that's actually pretty neat. I'd like to see more initiatives that seek to use video games in therapeutic or remedial ways. Thanks for the heads up!

      • bob
        January 8, 2016 at 5:13 pm

        i like tummmy cuummy yummy

  16. John Li
    August 11, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    stay away from the cod communities too many 10 year olds there that have slept with your mother

  17. Chris
    August 9, 2014 at 12:09 am

    Anyone who says that video games only have negative effects on people are most likely either closed-minded or have had little exposure to the full market. Not to mention that many of the other places you would expect someone to develop these skills are often much less fun. Don't get me wrong, there are games that teach the wrong lessons, but there are also definitely books you wouldn't advocate as children's reading material and that wouldn't make you say they shouldn't read right?

    Additional arguments for video games:

    TL;DR: Video games promote literacy, ability to deal with failure, hand-eye coordination, saving money, improvising/contingency planning, paying attention, multitasking, being observant, gathering information, being resourceful, productivity, tolerance, sportsmanship, ability to deal with difficult people, good driving habits, and very basic knowledge in a variety of capacities including physics, environmental science, art/history/culture, geopgraphy and languages.

    Literacy - Pokemon Blue literally taught me to read fluently before I was three years old. I wanted to know the story and I would bring it to my mom and ask what words meant on an almost daily basis...until I didn't need to.

    Dealing with failure - Nearly no one ever has beaten an entire video game on their first try without dying once. You learn to accept failure and take lessons from it. Ties into perserverance.

    Physical hand-eye coordination - Self-explanatory.

    Saving money - Many games taught me not to spend all my money because I never knew when I would need something in the future, not to mention that I learned to save real money so that I could buy video games. This is different from simple forward planning because those are things you expect to happen. This is being prepared for the unknown. Speaking of...

    Improvising/Contingency plans - Plans fall apart. Recover quickly or suffer negative consequences. Better to learn that when the penalty is only losing a game than when you are actually making mistakes in real life.

    Paying attention - You looked away from the screen and you died. Learn to focus on what you're doing.

    Multitasking - Okay, so you were watching the guy in front of you and you got stabbed in the back. Dead again, how to fix this? Gotta learn to juggle multiple tasks at once.

    Being observant - Okay, so you're now watching all the enemies, shifting your view quickly between them so they can't sneak up on you. At the same time, you're making progress towards your goal. Except maybe you set off a trapdoor or some explosives. Once again, you're dead. Did I mention that video games help you learn to deal with failure? At any rate, it seems you should look where you're going.

    Gathering information - Okay, but what if I don't know where I'm going? Find someone to ask, find a map, find a book with the info you need. I believe this also qualifies as...

    Being resourceful - Finding things and using them for non-standard uses is a tactic commonly employed by game developers to reward players that have that spark of creativity necessary to find these uses. The ability to work with what you've got is also one of the most important real world skills you could ever have.

    Productivity - Going hand in hand with grinding comes the question, how can this take less time? Necessity is the mother of invention and hence productivity is born. Being fed up with spending too much time on something is the best way to coerce your brain into finding a way to do it faster, whether it's finding the optimal route between towns or learning a particularly efficient way to make money to get something you want.

    Tolerance - Most games with a fairly large cast of characters will do a good job of being diverse in race, gender, financial status, etc. and they will rarely discriminate against one group by having all the villains be one type of people. Obviously this diversity can go away, but fairly so, if the game is putting an emphasis on being historically accurate. For example, it makes sense that a game set in feudal Japan would have a mostly homogenous cast.

    Sportsmanship - League of Legends is a brilliant example where sportsmanlike play is rewarded and unsportsmanlike activity is punished (okay, they try but they can't catch everyone). The same is true for playing games in person with others. Sure, people trash talk when it's fun and everyone is okay with it, but very few gamers will do it to another's face when they can genuinely see that the other person is not enjoying themselves anymore because if they keep it up they know won't have anyone to play with for long.

    Dealing with...difficult people - There are always going to be some difficult people in the world and you can't avoid them forever. Online gaming in particular can teach you to deal with, talk down (not talk down to, big difference), and ignore difficult people.

    Physics - Sure, video games are far from perfectly accurate when it comes to these things (especially when I was a kid), but it does a really good job of getting the gist across. I built up an intuitive sense of physics and learned to intuitively solve problems like projectile motion which helped in sports. Thanks to this intuition, other things came more naturally to me later in life, such as...

    Driving - Video games taught me the concepts of how to drive stick before I was anywhere near old enough to drive. Not only that, but the sounds of the games even gave a fairly accurate representation of when to switch gears. In some of the more realistic games, it also presses just how difficult cars are to control at high speeds and taught physical concepts such as the value of a low center of gravity. Had I been more into cars, I'm sure I could have also learned about the parts of a car and the basic idea behind how they work.

    History/Culture/Art - There are many examples of video games that are staged in the past, a number of which do a decent job of being fairly accurate. One example is the first Assassin's Creed. No, it is not a history textbook and a lot of the story line is made up, but the general way that the world is portrayed is a pretty spot on depiction of what it was really like in a lot cases. For those who would argue that books are better for this (I'm not arguing against books, I love books), remember that any author is free to take all the same liberties as a game designer because they are both story writers. This doesn't even take into account games that are actually about history, art and culture, this is just what we get from a game that is primarily famous for freerunning and cool ways of killing people.

    Geography - Continuing on the above, our high school Latin club went to state competitions for various categories, one of which was geography. Shortly after Assassin's Creed came out, the teacher noticed that there was a sharp increase in the quality of work done by several students who usually did rather poorly but only in the geography section and upon further inspection, we actually found that the Assassin's Creed maps closely matched our study maps and several of those students went to state and did well. Many other games, particularly war strategy games, could be used to learn more modern geography.

    Environmental Science - Super Mario Sunshine is an entire game about fighting pollution and graffiti because it's bad for the environment and it's inhabitants. Not only this but they show you the negative effects of this as the people are suffered from tainted water and you need to help them. On another note, for almost any animal I can think of, there is now a Pokemon based on it. Again, not perfect, but the absolute basics such as habitats and food sources are there.

    Learning in general - Almost anything you are interested in probably has a video game oriented around it. These are not perfect, but they are a great way to learn a little bit about something new. One of my favorite ideas, as someone already said, is using video games to learn a new language.

    Last note: Keep in mind that I am by no means suggesting that video games are the only ways or even the best ways to gain any of these skills. I'm just saying that it's probably easier to get someone to play a video game than many of the alternatives.

    There are many arguments for video games and I seriously doubt that I've touched on them all, but I'm not getting paid for this. I just got carried away, so I'll stop here. Thoughts? Let me know if you agree or disagree with something I said. Or maybe I missed something entirely?

    • Joel L
      August 9, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      Wow, great writeup! Tons of great points.

      I like that you mention resourcefulness as I can attribute 99% of my "good with money" skills to my childhood playing old-school MUDs and MMORPGs. I don't think I would've learned the value of money if I hadn't played those games.

    • Matt bick
      March 6, 2015 at 4:59 pm

      I couldn't agree more, I am wring presuasive essay, and your reason helped a lot. So thanks!

    • Chris
      March 6, 2015 at 11:46 pm

      Lol, no problem. Glad to hear I could help. :P

      Just out of curiosity, what is the essay for (high school, college, professional, extracurricular, etc.)?

      • jackson
        December 4, 2015 at 2:33 am

        lol I came here to write an essay also

      • sorry not sorry
        February 22, 2016 at 2:32 am

        i copied and pasted this for my english essay

    • Carlton
      June 8, 2017 at 4:08 pm

      I am doing debate on whether games are helpful and this article is boss!! ;)

  18. Jerick D
    August 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I know this doesn't apply to everyone but for me, playing Video Games taught me how to be fluent in the English language. It is not my native language so whenever a word I didn't understand pops up in dialogues, I'd look it up. I was able to actually expand my vocabulary in no time.

    • Jorge
      August 8, 2014 at 8:22 pm

      That's true. And nowadays, learning English is closer to a life skill than it was years ago.

    • Joel L
      August 9, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      Very true. I hadn't considered that point since I'm a native English speaker, but as Jorge mentioned, globalization has made English into a life skill and video games certainly can help with that.

  19. Saikat B
    August 7, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Nice one Joel.

    I think our generation will use video games for some serious family time in the future. It's already emerging as a tool for storytelling, and immersive, multi-user worlds will helps us experience stories directly as protagonists, and find our own meaning -- it could be about morality, achiving goals, teamwork...and more.

    • Joel L
      August 9, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      Definitely. More studios are using games to explore deeper topics and provide gameplay that's more than a simple reward treadmill and those games are more compelling, I think. The interactivity of games is perfect for getting us, the players, to ask questions and to see things from another angle. I wish more games would take advantage of that.