The University of Gaming

Recently it seems that areas of the media like the Daily Mail and the Alan Titchmarsh show feel that it’s easier to point the finger at video games for being responsible for much of societies problems, as it’s much easier than dealing with the actual complex issues faced in modern society. There is also a growing trend of reporting the worst case scenario as actual fact, but here at This Is My Joystick, I decided it was time to buck this trend and look at the positive side if things.

Sure there is a dark side of my character that chuckles to myself when I see a gas tank, and I always take note of security cameras on my travels because years of playing video games has taught me a few little tricks that come in quite useful in everyday life. When I gave this a little more thought it occurred to me that actually there are many positive lessons learned by attending the University of Gaming.

Modern education involves constant multiple-choice style exams that teaches kids to memorise rather than think. Many blame this for shackling creativity and explain why many have so much trouble solving the simplest of problems in the ‘one size fits all’ education system. The good news is that people who play video games can learn more skills from games than they ever did in school.

Lesson One: Everyday is a school day
Whether you are at school, college, university or climbing the ladder of success in the workplace the biggest lesson to learn in life is that everyday is a school day no matter how old you are. You are guaranteed to learn new skills everyday no matter how good you may think that you are.

Video Games mostly begin with a tutorial that very often outstays its welcome, but even the more experienced and cocky gamer who skips such a lesson could end up regretting it when they realise they don’t know how to use dead eye in Red Dead Redemption because of their over enthusiastic skipping.

I must confess that tutorials are something of an annoyance to me, but I have since learned to be a little more patient and learn a thing or two. It took the death of Ben Carmine to make me learn the error of my ways, but I got there in the end. Sadly this won’t bring Ben back.

Ben Carmine dies for our sins!

Lesson Two: Learn from your mistakes.
Each and every one of us will make mistakes on this roller-coaster we call life; however the key lesson is to not repeat them but to learn from them. Sounds simple right? Sure it’s up there with eat less and exercise more but anyone that has seen the Jeremy Kyle Show will know that there is living proof that some people continue to make the same mistakes.

The world of video games does not tolerate fools gladly and if you wish to progress in games such as Trials HD you will learn this frustrating lesson the hard way.

Lesson Three: Trust No-one!
I believe that to win a rat race you need to be a rat. I don’t want to be a rat but unfortunately in life even people that appear to be a good friend in the workplace could be hatching a plan to cause your downfall so they can further their own ambition with you out of the way. Of course not everyone you meet will be your secret nemesis but you need to be aware that it could happen and what signs to look for.

A prime example of this was the nice, incredibly helpful man called Atlas in the game Bioshock. For the majority of the game it felt that you and this affable Irishman struck up a rapport as he helped you escape the claustrophobic and chaotic world of Rapture. However the ending is something that is enough to guarantee you that you will think twice before trusting someone so implicitly ever again.

Atlas was right…

Lesson 4: Follow your own path
If a bear attacks your camp you don’t need to be faster than the bear. You only need to be faster than the slowest camper and this is a lesson that many gamers are forced to learn very quickly when playing online.

Fortune favours the brave, but most game rooms are full of people being predictable taking the same route time after time but the person who is not distracted by others and disciplined enough to follow their own path and separate themselves from the masses will reap the rewards.

Lesson 5: There is no shortcut; experience is the key to success
Wander aimlessly into any online game map and you will be instantly picked off, leaving you feeling more than a little worthless. However if you put the hours in, study the geography of your environment, your moment of glory will come sooner than you think. Like any cheesy 80’s film, if you refuse to give up and work hard you will gain the experience you need to become a contender.

Lesson 6: There is no I in Team
No matter how good you may think you are as an individual you will never be a match for well organized team who work together towards a common goal. Any member of a successful online clan will tell any rookie to leave his ego and quest for personal glory at the door, because it will win you nothing.

“Work as a team, people. Work as a team.”

Lesson 7: Problem Solving
Studies show video games make people more perceptive, training their brains to analyze things faster and more effective than those who do not. With games such as the Sims, kids can look at real life problems and it can teach them how to work out their own solutions.

Unfortunately in the real world, sleeping for twenty-four hours will not fix all of your health issues, you cannot re-spawn, you haven’t got three lives. You only get one shot at this life but the lessons you have learned from gaming are possibly more valuable than you will ever learn in any classroom.

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