What Gaming Can Teach Us About Life

I grew up in a house without video games. While my brothers were permitted to play a small number of non-violent video games at a friend’s house, neither my sister nor I were allowed to do so. I believe it was deemed lacking enough femininity for it to be a legitimate interest for us. Instead I made do with watching my friends play games like Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, and Spiro.

The chance to play a game myself didn’t arrive until after I graduated college. I tried a few times to play Halo on my friend’s X-Box, but the controls and graphics were beyond me. I couldn’t get the hang of it. When I finally got a PS3 (which I bought because it would play Blu-rays as well as DVDs and games), though, I purchased the original Spiro and started playing.

mariokartWhat I learned from Spiro, Little Big Planet, Mario Kart, Harry Potter Lego games, and Eternal Sonata was that I’d missed out on a lot of skills and social interaction by not playing games as a kid. My hand-eye coordination needed work, too, and I began to understand that playing these games wasn’t just a way to waste time (as older generations sometimes declare), it was a way to gain valuable life skills, skills my peers had or were exposed to that I hadn’t developed.

One of the things that defines Millennials is their perseverance and dedication to subjects that matter to them personally. Millennials have been able to solve many problems that puzzled generations before us, like creating portable cellular networks (useful for people who live in remote areas), chewing gum that prevents cavities (vital for people who lack the funds or means for dental care), and a machine that will help keep trash out of the Pacific Ocean.

In a videogame, you stay on one level and “grind,” collecting experience, items, and points toward a “level-up.” The only way to get through a game is to play through each and every level. By gaining experience from each level, players hone their skills, maintaining them through each level up as they power through to the end. This dedication and perseverance are noticeable in many Millenials.

Another way in which video games have changed a generation is a heightened ability of Millennials to think on their feet and switch tasks quickly. While the myth of multitasking has been uncovered, there is evidence to suggest that Millennials’ brains have evolved, rewiring to keep up with the advancement of technology. Video games aren’t all simple. Sometimes a player has to move, collect information, and fight off enemies all at the same time. Moving from one task to the next quickly and knowing which tasks to put first have helped Millennials focus on what’s important.

Video games also allow for a low-stress way to make mistakes and learn from the experience. If you fail a level, you can start again, and once you gain enough knowledge about the level, you can beat it. Millennials are putting this to use as a way to boost confidence, and are able to make decisions about how best to move forward without a horrendous amount of pressure (It’s also a great way to work off some steam after a particularly stressful day).

Millennials have benefited greatly from technology in general, but games in particular, because of the immersion into another world that allows for exploration and skill-building. By working in teams, figuring out the best way to go about solving a problem, and using the ability to switch from one task to the other, Millennials have become a generation that promotes unity, takes care of those around them, and a positive, inquisitive influence on the next generation.
http://www.uschamberfoundation.org/millennial-generation-research-review

Image Credits: Harold R Cologne, GalgenTX
K.M. Cone

K.M. Cone

K.M. Cone is a story nerd, particularly for the episodic stories told via the medium of television. When not parked in front of the TV, K.M. Cone can be found writing kooky urban fantasy on her personal site, attempting to learn German, or making a huge pot of soup for her friends, who are probably coming over to join her in her latest TV or animated film obsession.

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