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Video games and transferable skills

Some thoughts about personal experiences playing video games leaving me with useful skills for life.

Raul Aliaga, Blogger

August 24, 2010

3 Min Read

When I was a child I thought my life was an adventure video game. That the life I had was in a budding state before becoming the main character of a great and epic adventure, in which I would travel the world, meet lots of curious characters, learn awesome skills and challenge big enemies, fighting heroic battles.

The time passed and it wasn't like that. I grew up and almost without notice I entered into something that can be called "a young man's life". In parallel, I kept playing, maybe innocently hoping to scape from reality, nourishing my hobby, sharing with friends and creating complicity links with new people as we shared some common game experiences.

However, something stayed with me: the skills and learning transference. If still not direct and widely researched, the skills that one acquires playing video games can be transferred to everyday life, having great impact on several dimensions of it.

For example, in RPG games there always exist a system of advancement and progression for character skills, such as "espers", "materia" or similar, which induce to learn to manage an adequate equilibrium among different skills. With such a focus, one can transfer that management to capitalize activities that were once a hobby -like organizing role playing meetings or keeping a blog about my favorite band- into "team management skills and communications".


Another memorable experience was my intuitive approach to scientific method. My first game that I played from end to end was Sonic The Hedgehog 2. When I realized that you can transform Sonic in Super Sonic I wondered "Can Tails become SUPER TAILS?". The answer is, unfortunately, no. 


Don't bother, it's not gonna work ¬¬ 

I refused to believe that all the emeralds and Tails had no relation at all. So I separated all the game instances: the emeralds, where I was getting them, finishing the game with them, etc. to find out if there were anything further between the emeralds and Tails. The answer: No relations at all. However, something stayed with me: I asked questions, formulated hypotheses, delimited the way to approach them, I played (experimented) and answered my questions, asked new ones, and so on.

One more example was the glorious summer of 1998 when I played Mario Kart 64 with almost military discipline. Four friends, four controls, a whole summer. Once all the basic skills, items, shortcuts and related stuff was learned, the game turned into a "psychological war".


To win the races, the game was requiring from me to enter my friends minds and to anticipate what they were also anticipating from me. This is also commonly seen on RTS games, FPS, fighting games, and any multiplayer game, where we can extract great lessons on empathy.

Adult life is increasingly flooded with complexities that overwhelm us and worry us incessantly, demanding answers in situations that we never faced before. Those of us who "wasted our childhood playing video games" tackled at bounded scope many of these situations and had grown in time an intuition to face them, sometimes performing even better than those who have never played video games.

Is there any skill of yours you consider is inspired from a video game?

[This was also published on my website: http://www.raliaga.org/]

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