Happy New Year! Did you get any video games for Christmas? Nice! From other people? No? You bought them for yourself? That’s fine, too! Self-care is a worthy excuse to splurge on some entertainment.
But are video games purely entertainment? As the title of this blog a few lines above indicates: no! Video games can also strengthen skills and attributes that you already possess.
Let’s take a look at what sorts of real-life skills you can sharpen by playing video games.
Building on Knowledge
Games where we see this: Most, but let’s focus on Zelda.
In Zelda games, you are constantly adding to an arsenal of skills and using them to solve increasingly complex puzzles and situations.
Video games like this also build players’ tolerance for stress by increasing the difficulty. Most video games start players out in an easy setting and slowly build the world around them. You begin at a pleasant and light field, pick up a simple weapon, and learn a couple of easy moves. All set to serene music. It’s very peaceful. But if things don’t start to get harder, it would also be very boring.
Games where we see this: Skyrim, L.A. Noire
Conversations in RPGs have multiple outcomes. This concept has been around forever now, but contemporary games show how much the conversation can vary. Do you tell the shopkeeper in Skyrim that you like his store in the hopes that he gives you a deal on a tunic? Or do you insult his family and start a fight that ends in your death? Choices, choices, choices…
What you say and how you say it can change the direction of an interaction. Not only do we get multiple options for what to say, but we also get a number of different ways to say things. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the games that you have to scroll through a hundred different ways to respond to a character’s question, but it’s nice to know that those games are out there.
Characters’ body language is starting to tell as much as their words. When graphics weren’t as good, we had to rely on dialogue to tell the entire story. But now, animators are able to give their characters body language to emphasize (or sometimes go against) what they are saying. L.A. Noire is a little on the nose, but it's a first step into bringing the interpretation of social cues into gaming. The player is able to ask questions of characters and judge whether their body language indicates if they are telling the truth or lying to hinder the investigation.
These are just a few ways that video games can strengthen real-life skills and attributes. Are there more? Of course, but I’ll save those for another blog post.