Learn to play, or play to learn?

Games are first and foremost a form of entertainment. But like a good movie or book, games have the ability to impart a bit of knowledge on the audience.

I’ve applied skills gained directly from playing games to my work and came out looking like a champion! Video games are by nature very statistic-heavy and require quick decisions to direct many moving parts. This kind of decisiveness isn’t a skill taught in school – at least not to me!

You can also learn about new cultures and histories, time management, economics, politics, science, design – list goes on! In fact, if you were to tell me a subject you’re studying, I’m positive that I would be able to find an interactive experience that would relate in some shape or form and build on what you’ve been taught thus far.

Towards the end of last year, I was playing Assassin’s Creed Origins. This game is set in Egypt, around 49-47BC. I’m sure nothing in the game is 100% historically accurate, but it’s still incredible to play as a Medjay, scale the Pyramids, raid tombs and interact with Cleopatra. You can’t get this from text books and lectures.

Beyond the game’s campaign that takes you on an epic voyage across Egypt, developer Ubisoft has also announced ‘Discovery Tour‘ – an educational mode of the game that takes players/students through guided tours curated by Egyptologists. How freaking cool is that?!

Design skills can also be developed from playing games. Many game studios often leave the tools to create new characters, levels and artwork within the released game itself as added value after the main game is complete. Some developers have gone even further and created games about creating! Successful examples include Little Big Planet, Mario Maker, Minecraft and the upcoming Dreams.

The most valuable skill I’ve developed is logic. Though, it’s hard to put this into words…

cuphead

By playing 100’s of different games in my lifetime, I’m able to quickly discern what the game designer is asking of the player and work within those rules to overcome the challenge at hand. This ability applies to almost everything I interact with outside of games. Maybe when constructing furniture. Maybe learning new software for work. Maybe when forced to do a bit of emergency plumbing! Design is design. Digital or physical, there are always rules. And as technology progresses, game designers can apply more rules, and apply the laws of physics as they exist in real life. Remember that pilots and astronauts are trained, and practice using simulated experiences!

I’m not confident enough to say that games are the best way to develop logic, become creative, or learn history, but they have given me such an advantage in everything I’ve ever tried to do, that I want to stress their value outside of entertainment.

Games are rad, so keep playing. They’re not harming our minds, they’re developing them! Most of the time…

Best wishes y’all.

Sean

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