Like most born in the age of technology, I spent a significant chunk of my childhood playing video games. From Super Mario 64 to The Sims to The Simpsons Hit and Run, I wasted many an hour plugged into a games console. But were those hours really a waste of time?
Recent research has shown that video games actually boost employability skills by improving communication, adaptability and resourcefulness. I mean, this was something that anyone who had played video games for any period of time could have told you, but it’s taken a while for society as a whole to cotton on. Now we’re even starting to see employers introduce gamification to their recruitment processes. Heck, students have won everything from Apple watches to internships by playing games on the Debut app.
But video games actually teach you so much about the world if you think about it, and from playing them you gain a whole bunch of career lessons you can apply to life.
You can’t take your anger out on others
I’m not a driver, but if my reactions to video games are anything to go by, I will have some serious road rage. The thing is, at some point during your expletive-ridden tirade against Mario for just missing that jump, you have to stop and realise what an idiot you’re being. Getting angry isn’t going to solve anything. In fact it’s just going to make your game playing worse and you’ll likely lose a couple of lives in the process.
So whether your colleague at work hasn’t done what you asked or your favourite Sim keeps running back towards the fire (why!?), take a deep breath, stay calm and realise that anger isn’t going to solve anything.
Team work makes the dream work
People often think playing video games is a solitary activity. But nowadays there are plenty of video games which involve real life team work and communication. Whether it’s Call of Duty or Halo battleground, plenty of games require you to connect with friends and users to work collectively towards a goal. This teaches you to delegate, work to your strengths, communicate effectively and (try) to stay calm when under pressure.
Because at the end of the day, as much as you might like to work on your own on a project, it can be a lot more fun and effective to work with others. And when it comes to work or university you’ll often be forced to work in group projects, so being able to hold your own in team is essential.
Sometimes the answer is right in front of you
I’m notorious for overthinking things in games. I’ll be faced with a challenge and spend ages coming up with all these complicated ideas for how to solve it, only to realise it was something super simple, that would have taken me five minutes. You don’t always have to collect six keys, defeat a boss and navigate your way through 10 mini games just to unlock the chest – sometimes you can literally just unlock it.
This is often true in work life as well. There are many times I’ve been faced with a problem, and have spent considerable time brainstroming a range of complex solutions to it, only to realise that a really simple solution is actually way more effective. Never underestimate the power of simplicity, and always stop to consider the most obvious solution before you move on.
But sometimes you have to be creative
That being said, sometimes a video game will ask you to back-flip over flaming piranha-infested waters on a quest to find the elixir of moonlight and the blood of a zebra-striped unicorn just to open a door to the next room. And it’s not always clear that’s exactly what you have to do; half the time you’re just trying stuff out and hoping for the best.
We’re all just muddling through life and just hoping for the best. Sometimes the answer isn’t right in front of you, and sometimes you do have to be a bit more creative and try things out. Sometimes you’ll fail, but thankfully, unlike video games, you won’t actually die. Pick yourself up and head to the next level.
Even your boss has weak spots
I remember as kid first coming face-to-face with Bowser for the first time and I was absolutely petrified. I made Mario jump into the abyss just to avoid the impending fireball. When you’re a bit older, Bowser can take many shapes and forms. He can be your actual boss, or your landlord, or something more abstract like public speaking, networking or exams.
Whatever your Bowser is, just remember that every boss has their weak spots and they can all be defeated in one way or another. When little 6-year-old me finally headed for that Bowser battle, it probably took me at least 50 attempts to succeed, but I got there in the end. And no matter what it is you’re up against at work or university, whether it’s that dissertation or promotion, stay tenacious, stay resilient and you’ll succeed.
Remember you’re just on level one
How rubbish would video games be if you just raced through all the levels to the final boss battle and the end of the game? If all the hidden side quests and collectable items had big red flags above them? The fun of video games is the hard parts, slowly making your way through the levels, the thrill of satisfaction after you defeat each enemy or figure out a difficult puzzle.
So you’re stuck on level one; it’s not very exciting and you’re keen to move on to the juicy bits. It will happen eventually, but you have to work for it, and probably overcome a few hurdles en route. Even if things get harder as they go along (as all good video games do) just remember all the skills you’ve learned along the way, they’ll get you through.