Game On

CJ Priebe


Video games can be a blast, but often get a bad reputation from certain… sometimes older… people.

Despite their potential pitfalls, video games serve as a platform to practice skills that adults use to navigate myriad professional industries.

The content and direction of video games is limitless, spanning from the trivial to extremely realistic. Sometimes the two intertwine in a wonderfully weird concoction and grow to become a massive hit, underground classic… or just a flop.

Establishing the Playing Field

Video games can be broken down into two general categories: ones where the player has unlimited room to operate, and ones where mistakes build up over time. These different styles of games cultivate a wide-range of benefits.

Photo credit: Pixabay

The former category includes games like Mario, 007 GoldenEye, Call of Duty and Halo, in which the player can lose a level and try again. For example, the fact that the player lost a level eight times before completing it doesn’t have any bearing on the likelihood of whether a player will succeed in the next level.

Role playing games often fall into the latter category. These often more in-depth games allow the choices you make in the beginning of the game to ultimately affect your gameplay throughout, such as Dark Souls and The Witcher series.

Now, one mistake won’t make a huge difference in your work life, but a series of mistakes could jeopardize your ability to “win” (and generally after a massive time commitment).

The question is: Do mistakes matter?

Lessons to Learn

Different professions require different sets of skills, and the cost of your mistakes varies from field to field.

In places like Silicon Valley and Wall Street, you are more successful if you are willing to throw out a million ideas in the hope that you strike on that one truly great idea. Artists, marketers and well-financed entrepreneurs are driven by this mantra as well. You have to be willing to fail over and over again, otherwise you don’t make the cut.

Certain video games with respawn or levels can help practice this skill. The player has to complete that portion before moving on to the next part, but may fail as many times as necessary throughout the process.

With each attempt and failure — and after a respawn — you get a little bit better. You glean a more complete understanding of the mission to be accomplished and you keep after it. Respawn allows players to take another shot at reaching their goal.

This type of game teaches one of the most crucial lessons in the workplace: how to persevere through frustrating situations.

The Inverse

The other side of the coin is when you’re dealing with a slow build. Some situations, jobs and games require a methodical process to be worked out to play. Strategy games, with long form campaigns where choices compound upon each other, create a unique and often frustrating experience that requires patience to maneuver.

The game Risk is a shortened version of this. Warcraft, Starcraft (all of the crafts) and the Total War series fall under this category; so do franchise modes of sports games and lots of adventure games.

The Fable series famously presented players with the outright option to be good or evil. Often, games play that more subtly and allow users to straddle a grey area of moral ambiguity, such as Red Dead Redemption or Fallout.

In certain jobs, a methodical nature is a must for employees to thrive. Mistakes cost money, time and potential. Each move needs to be evaluated, re-evaluated and executed as flawlessly as possible.

Games where calculated strategy is required and each decision matters can complement the skills that doctors or educators need: It is critical for ideas to be nurtured over time.

The Final Battle

These dynamics with how video games function mirrors how a lot of modern professions work today.

The two styles of video games illuminate what that means for how people recognize the effect they have on society and how actions have consequences on the real world.

Critics of the video game industry are often fraught with concerns that violent video games inspire violence in communities and the belief that millennials waste their time on frivolous things.

The debate of whether video games will result in the eventual downfall of society will persist; and if that idea ever does die, you can be sure it will respawn.

The truth is, things can be what you make of them — and video games have the potential to help us in building adaptive skills that reflect the skills we need to thrive in a modern society.

Whether the video games we choose reflect the career paths we ought to take or they are used as a tool for professional development is really up to the individual player. Grab a controller and make your best choice.