What I Learned from Playing Games

All games teach. Good games keep teaching. Great games teach something worthwhile.

This post previously appeared on - Game Design, Writing and Personal Development.

Learning Mahatma Gandhi quote

All games teach. Good games keep teaching. Great games teach something worthwhile.

What did I learn from playing Fluxx Amazon? That rules can change, that loss can come suddenly, that planing is futile. Yeah, that’s not much, that’s not much at all.

I wouldn’t call Fluxx a great game. Other’s might, they might learn to laugh and cry and curse with their friends. Me, I learned that it wasn’t a game for me.

I’ve been playing games for close to 30 years now. I learned to read and then to write English from them (Kings Quest and Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry forced me to). I learned to get along, to not get along and to click as rapidly as I could. I learned that I couldn’t play all games, that some games were too immersive for me, to the point of wiping out reality.

I learned that I wasn’t alone, that there were other’s like me, the geeks and outcasts, the unpopulars and brainiacs.

I learned that it was all right to play Magic the Gathering Amazon and Pinball Dreams (never did like that one, learned that you could make a living from making games from it though – I went to school with the guys who did).

I learned that imagination was more important than strength, that I could take a world I loved, a character I loved, a story I loved and run with it, play with it, win it my own way.

I learned to powergame, to hoard treasure in a way that would make a dragon yellow with envy (is that why dragons are colored?). I learned that hoarding treasure wasn’t all that much fun, that treasure became worthless after a while. Worthless treasure made for a worthless game. More power didn’t equal more enjoyment.Learning Chuck Wendig quote

I learned that there was more to the world that I could see. I learned to envision it, to built it, to improve it. I learned to save, and to count my blessings in having saved. I learned that putting off for later would improve my engine and yield great results in the end (yah, tell that to the finance brats in the stock markets – some lessons aren’t worth learning).

I learned to create. To take and to copy and steal and make games of my own. I learned that there was pleasure in opposition, that one could cry out in rage and be friends. I learned to cope.

I learned the names of the great railroad companies of the 1860’s. Most lessons were like that, useless junk, trivia, systematic wastage of brainpower. But they stuck. New York & New Haven, Chesapeake, PRR.

I learned that I wasn’t too gifted to be beat or too stupid to win. I learned that there was more in the road than in the result, that some games aren’t worth playing, that some rules aren’t worth following. I learned to hide and I learned to stop hiding. I learned that games were worth playing and that games could make the world a better place. I learned how games could make the world a better place.

I learned and in turn I taught others. I met people I didn’t know and shared with them. I met people in t-shirts, in suits, with pierced noses and water combed hair and I learned to ignore their outsides and just pass the cubes.

I learned that it takes all kinds to tango, and that there are those who never tango at all no matter how hard you try. And I learned that there is a dance for everyone, all you need to do is find it.

Most of all I learned that I didn’t need to play to enjoy myself, that I could watch the game and still be interested, that I didn’t need to scream me, me, me to be seen.

And some day I will teach all that to my kids.

More game design articles:

This post previously appeared on - Game Design, Writing and Personal Development. New updates every Monday.

Latest Jobs

Manticore Games

San Mateo, California
Senior Software Engineer - Mobile

Sony PlayStation

San Diego, California
Sr. Online Programmer

The Walt Disney Company

Glendale, California
Associate Marketing Manager - Walt Disney Games

Insomniac Games

Burbank, California
Accessibility Design Researcher
More Jobs   


Explore the
Subscribe to
Follow us

Game Developer Job Board

Game Developer Newsletter


Explore the

Game Developer Job Board

Browse open positions across the game industry or recruit new talent for your studio

Subscribe to

Game Developer Newsletter

Get daily Game Developer top stories every morning straight into your inbox

Follow us


Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more