“Video games, educating the world one step at a time.” – Flitz, ‘GETTING LOST IN HEROBRINE’S MANSION’, MariCraft [Smosh Games, 2015]
My father was the first person to show me the world of gaming. Every weekend me and Laura escape to the world of adventure, whether that be treasure hunting in the real world or gaming when the dull British weather shut us in. Toy Story 2, Harry Potter and Spyro 2: Gateway to Glimmer will always give me the warm fuzzy feeling when I’m reminded of them.
But there are other people who hate games. Why? “Because they aren’t a valid art form.”
Why else? “Because they bleach kids’ minds and make them unable to think for themselves.”
And one more reason I’ve heard was, “Because you have better things to be doing with your time then making someone else live life for you.”
But in honesty, games have taught me more about the real world than those ‘haters’ ever could. I can tell you for certain that I’ve learned from Bioware than I ever did from television.
TO TAKE THINGS ONE STEP AT A TIME
When I was younger, I would always become overwhelmed if given lots of tasks. Yes I love being busy, but only with one thing at a time. If you juggle lots of tasks they will all get out of hand. Nothing will be done right.
However, quest-based games often did exactly that: threw lots of quests and possibilities at you. Whenever starting a new level I’d feel swamped.
Of course, that was until I came up with a strategy: gather every task, list them in order of importance and go from there! In real life you should always do the most important things first.
So nowadays, when I feel swamped by life I sit down with a pad and paper and write down every little task I must do. Even the steps I need to take to complete the bigger goal. This makes everything feel far more satisfying when I’ve completed a ‘quest’.
A LARGER VOCABULARY
So few people read books anymore. It’s a fact. But that doesn’t matter as much as the older generations think. People aren’t reading paperback or hardback (as beautifully satisfying as they are) because they are reading elsewhere. It might be emails, texts, Facebook statuses or… Games! I don’t mean any old platforming game. I mean the RPGs or story-based ones.
I personally keep subtitles on and read every codex. Yes, there are people who won’t read any of that and just play for the fights but they aren’t the type to read books anyway.
I have learned many words, such as ‘Unscrupulous’ and ‘Semantics’, from one game alone. It also helps prevent people from mispronouncing or misreading the words, giving them a better chance of understanding and using it in real life.
EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY
Okay, so I was always open-minded and believed in equality for all, but many of the games I play highlight just how bad it can be in society. A game might replace some things with others to hide the underlying meaning, but they aren’t totally disguising it.
One game called Until Dawn highlighted serious flaws in the US Medical System. It’s easy to miss yes, but taking your time to find every clue you will begin to understand.
Mass Effect isn’t all about giant sky-robots obliterating the universe: it’s about racial conflicts and prejudices forged by thousands of years of war being overcome by one larger threat and eventual acceptance of all races. And that’s not the only meaning to be found.
It’s a deeper understanding of these things that make games just that much more satisfying.
As I once said before: Context makes a piece of art a thousand times more exciting.
I’ll be brief with this one as the argument just makes me want to marathon watch Game of Thrones again. But similarly to the previous point, the games I play often highlight historical situations and tensions from the past. They show us that the past is rarely too different from the future.
It humanises history.
YOUR CHOICES MATTER
Do you kill your romance option to save the world, or do you sacrifice yourself?
Do you go towards the ladder or the window?
No matter how small a choice is in a game, it often has a larger impact on your experience. I am terrible at making decisions, but many of the games I play force you to make one choice or another. They add weight to your word and give you a sense of importance.
You are directly responsible for that event.
But that isn’t a bad thing. It taught me how to be more sure of my decisions. If I can make a decision in the game, why not in real life? Most decisions we make daily won’t hurt anyone at all, so why not choose chips over pasta, or green paint over blue?
Just go with your heart!
The list of what I’ve learned from games goes on and on. Maybe one day I’ll write another post more about the professional and artistic things they’ve taught me.
What did you learn from your favourite computer game? Do you have any fond memories from gaming?