5 Life Skills That Video Games Can Help You Develop

Joel Lee 06-08-2014

Video games can help you succeed at life. It’s an uncommon opinion to have, especially in mainstream media and pop culture, and most anti-gaming activists are quick to point out that video games tend to cultivate immaturity, violence, and even addiction Video Game Addiction In Teens - What Is Too Much and How to Curb the Problem Video game addiction is a serious issue. I know this because I am an ex-video game addict. Read More . However, like most kinds of media, video games can be both good and bad.


As one who grew up immersed in gaming culture, I can attest that some areas of my life were negatively influenced by my gaming habits. I can also attest that games have helped shape me into a more productive member of society. How so?

Patience and Perseverance

“Grinding.” It’s a term that describes any repetitive activity that isn’t fun on its own but performed anyway to obtain some resulting reward. Funny enough, the gaming community first adopted the word from real life – referring to “the daily grind” of working a day job – and now I’m here to tell you that grind-centric games can help prepare you for that same “daily grind.”

Old arcade hits forced you to suffer through tons of repetitive gameplay (e.g., Space Invaders, Tetris, Rampage) to see how far you could go. Role-playing games with a level-up mechanic often encouraged repetitive monster fights to grow stronger (e.g., Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior). MMORPGs like EverQuest and Ragnarok Online cemented the grinding concept while the recent free-to-play craze The 10 Greatest Free MMORPGs To Start Playing Now The landscape of MMORPG gaming has never been better than it is today. Some may pine for the good old days when games like Ultima Online, Everquest, and Dark Age of Camelot dominated the scene,... Read More perfected it.


Is grinding really a life skill? You bet it is. The ability to endure routine and repetition is one that will come in handy no matter what you pursue. Grinding through homework. Grinding through work projects. Grinding money for a wedding, a vacation, or a new home.

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.

Forward Thinking and Strategic Planning

Puzzle and strategy games will never go out of style. Remember the massive buzz over Plants vs. Zombies Plants Vs Zombies Is Still One Of The Most Fun Things You Can Do On Mobile [iOS] The world of iOS gaming moves fast. Games come out, generate hype, and are forgotten all in a matter of a couple of days. On consoles, gamers will stick with a game longer, but with... Read More , Angry Birds 5 Reasons Angry Birds Is So Damn Addictive My name is Dave Parrack, I'm a 34-year-old freelance writer from England, and I have a problem. I'm addicted to playing Angry Birds. Being hooked on catapulting feathered weapons of mass destruction into smug pigs... Read More , and Sudoku Satisfy Your Sudoku Cravings With Andoku Sudoku! [Android] Puzzle games are all the rage these days. As with all things related to technology, puzzle games have been evolving - and quite rapidly, too. Have you seen the new Alchemy game? Yet even as... Read More ? What about more involved games like Starcraft II 5 Websites All Beginner Starcraft II Players Need To Read Starcraft II is a complicated game filled with deep nuances and intense strategy that can be rather intimidating for newer players to get a hold off. Many hours of dedication are required, and if you... Read More , Civilization V 5 Ways To Keep Civilization 5 Interesting While You Wait For Beyond Earth Armed with these ideas, you'll find hundreds of extra hours of fun in Civilization 5. Read More , and to a lesser extent, Dota 2 What Is Dota 2 & Why Should You Care? In the world of games, Valve Corporation has recently grown into one of the largest and most consistent game publishers (with the skyrocketing success of their Steam distribution network) and game developers (with the international... 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 it’s 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.

Leadership and Socialization

Perhaps the most popular gaming stereotype is the player who is asocial, perhaps even antisocial. In fact, gamers are often depicted as basement-dwelling man-children who have no jobs, no responsibilities, and no dignity. Yet, if we look past the stereotype, we’d see that 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, 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.

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.

Mental and Creative Prowess

There exists a niche genre of games that are designed to train and improve brain functionality. Brain Age offers plenty of activities that help with mental math, reading speed, and concentration. Flash Focus is similar but emphasizes hand-eye coordination, peripheral vision, and visual acuity.


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 Get Smarter With Android: 5 Apps For Improving Memory, Math Skills, And More "You won't always have a calculator on you!" That's what my math teachers told me all through high school. Little did they know we'd all be carrying around miniature computers in our pockets within the... Read More by exercising memory, matching, and thinking outside the box.

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.

Sympathy and Empathy

These days, more and more creators are embracing the idea that video games are art 5 Games That Remind Us That Video Games Are Art Art is one of the few things in life that could arguably be considered 100% subjective. One man's art flop is another man's masterpiece. It's strange to think of video games as art, especially since... Read More . On one level, the artistic directions of many titles have proven that games can literally be art. Not convinced? Check out Limbo, Don’t Starve, The Wind Waker, and even Team Fortress 2. The graphics alone distinguish them from every other game out there.

But on an even deeper level, 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. Indeed, some of the most groundbreaking and revolutionary titles of the past five years have been the emotionally weighty games Pull Out The Tissues: 5 Video Games That Will Make You Cry Video games offer something that no other narrative medium can: interactivity. And when it comes to emotional gaming, there are some seriously impactful scenes that will take your breath away. Read More that jerk at your heartstrings.


For a while, video games have had a reputation of being emotionally numbing and brain rotting, but this recent trend towards narrative-centric gaming is now doing what books and movies have been doing for decades: developing a player’s sense of sympathy and empathy. An essential tip for success in Red Dead Redemption 2 is to do good deeds.

And honestly, this particular life skill may be the most important one on this list.

Beyond the skills you can learn, you can even use video games as a way to make money.

How has gaming better equipped you for life? Do you think there are such benefits to video games or would society be better off without any games at all? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Image Credits: Businessman with game pad Via Shutterstock, Puzzle Blocks Via Shutterstock

Whatsapp Pinterest

Enjoyed this article? Stay informed by joining our newsletter!

Enter your Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  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.

    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


    • 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


  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.