A Thousand Lifetimes In One Controller: Video Games Have Made Me A Better Person

Success concept.

So I spotted a lot of blog posts and articles on gaming and media websites about a recent study showing evidence that playing video games can improve you cognitive skills in one area or another. My Immediate reaction? Well duh, If I do anything that demands a certain part of me over time I will be better at it, that is the way the human body acclimates to repetition. I do understand that for many there wasn’t perhaps a very discernible benefit to playing games, so I thought I’d just take a look at the few things I have gotten from the experience, however know that these are my personal developments and that the person is important in how they respond to the scenarios and situations at hand.

Forethought. In playing video games we pretty much always play as the protagonist, the one whose actions have effect on the world and our decisions having visceral consequences. Through playing over the years I have become much more thoughtful about every action, in reality it isn’t hard to find someone who acts impulsively and doesn’t think things through. I can assure you they will suck at playing most games due to the nature of the learning environment. Even with more recent gaming generations bringing more flexibility to achieve an objective, thinking ahead is pivotal to success in all situations. What are my options? What happens if that guy spots me? Do I have enough health to succeed with this plan? Will I be able to push on if I suffer a lot of damage unnecessarily? Considerations for not only how to deal with variables in the short term but also the long term are massive personal and business skills, who wouldn’t want to trust that a friend or employee can look ahead of all their actions and be prepared for problems? The number one reason most games don’t come out is because of a lack of scope and a lack of forethought, there isn’t wiggle room for errors and they fall flat, an issue that shouldn’t occur from the very people who should be helping people improve these skills!

Self Reflection. Through experience we find out who we are both as a person and as a species, through observation and debate of our actions and those around us. When given a chance to help out someone vulnerable, regardless of the game I always want to do so out of the goodness in my heart. I enjoy seeing people rise up from problems or suffering and taking hold of their lives, I am what I might consider an improvement/progression addict. I love the feeling of myself or others taking a step forward. You know what I also found? When confronted with something I didn’t agree with, I refuse to back-down without a reasonable argument, I recently had a bit of a tiff with someone when I was being rather calm and sociable and they went and threatened me for something I know for a fact I did not do in the slightest, they were just avoiding the topic at hand. I rose my voice very loudly, I brought out curse after curse, I was furious that someone would try and treat me like that. This is the kind of person I am, I go out of my way to engage when I think something is wrong, I am not the kind of person to let what I believe is wrong or questionable go by unmet by challenge. My mother says that I have a strong sense of determination and that i have the drive to chase after something I want, to which I wholeheartedly agree. She had only said such things in my later years of life, perhaps because there wasn’t cause for it or there wasn’t any examples she knew of. I of course was well aware of this trait, I have gone back again and again to face the most challenging of bosses, the most vicious of trials that stand in the way of my personal desires within the game.

Wisdom. I have always held by the notion that the average man learns from his own life, the wise man learns from a hundred lives. We all have limited time on this planet and to me suggesting that I should learn from my mistakes is folly, I should learn from every mistake ever made. In looking to other people I can learn about their experiences as I would my own without having to fall into the trappings they did. Gaming puts us in a new life every time we play as a new character or a new role, when choices are made of events that are a result of a “what if” scenario for humanity or an allegory, I can be in that role of the survivor or what have you, even if the experience is but one designers perspective on people might react to a given situation. I find it upsetting that it isn’t too far off when people to say that my generation is the most unwise of all generations in contrast to how easy and how much history is available to us. We have the records of an entire species on our portable machines and yet we still fall into the ways of the failures of our past. Learn not only from your errs but also from others, playing video games has given me the opportunity to live and learn from a thousand lives in a year, in situations that are beyond my years and beyond my reach entirely.

These are but a few ways the medium has benefited me through simple play, no specific intentional lessons like an educational games but rather passive ways of teaching and letting the players translate those actions and what they draw from them into other areas of their lives. Do you suffer from playing too many games? Yes, like all things, a lack of moderation will lead to harm. The games are inherently bad, but this goes back to my point about this all being my experience with these things. A less apathetic person wouldn’t notice some of these things. I improved from games because I have been of the mind that they can, a more stubborn mind would struggle and possibly learn absolutely nothing. An experience consisting of associating with negativity doesn’t do anything to me, it might be the last push a more miserable and hateful person needed to push them over the edge but that isn’t something exclusive to games. To ever appropriately praise and condemn games you must understand them, yelling hatred and anger without evidence is the mark of a playground brat without any platform to stand on, I will be happy to debate about the benefits and harms of anything especially gaming, all I ask is that you be willing to listen and learn.

So what about any of you then. What have you gotten from playing games that has benefited you in any way? Do you think the hatred on games will pass or that these things will never fade from peoples minds? Thanks for the read, I know my posts have been getting longer but it isn’t easy to stop an adrenaline rush when you really get into telling your story.


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  1. #1 by catb89 on November 14, 2014 - 9:57 pm

    I used to play many different games, but now I’m a fully paid member of the parent club I only play 1, the one that has been most meaningful and social for me as evenings after little man’s bed time is the time I’m now limited to gaming wise.
    I would say I have gained life lessons from games, (you will know this already having read my post on the subject, but I can elaborate here) I’ve learned that people online are not just 1’s and 0’s as it’s easy to misbelieve. And there is a great deal of humanity to be found in the gaming community if you can find it or know where to look. Having now met serveral of my old gaming buddies in real life, and seen them grow by talking about their experiences out of game and them talking to me about my experiences out of game I can safely say I feel I have made very real and genuine friends. Even though they way this has occured is not at all conventional.

    And I hope the hatred for games and gamers wanes. It may just be one demographic but outside of that these people are extremely varied and unique, with their own stuff going on in real life. It simply doesn’t make sense to hate someone over a single one of their hobbies.

    The basement dweller and Sarkesian troller is a terrible stereotype to slap on these people. I’ll also say again; in the 6 years I have played an MMO and it’s sequel I have never once been told the “t*ts or gtfo” line, which I’m being told by the media, and my fellow feminists is common, yet in my experience it really isn’t. It’s just the media and non-gamers focussing soley on the bad apples and ignoring the rest of the barrel.
    Gamers are the new football fans, (or as the media paints or rather did seem to paint literally all of them “hooligans”), and unfortunately it is currently in vogue to demonise the gamers at the moment, tarring them all with the same brush.

    I hope this like the vitriol the football fans recieved (and to some extent still do) will (for the most part) pass too.


    • #2 by Prof.mcstevie on November 14, 2014 - 10:03 pm

      Let each person be judged for their actions and only theirs, you are not your parents, you are not a representation of an entire industry or enthusiasts, you are only you.


    • #3 by catb89 on November 14, 2014 - 10:12 pm

      An astute observation. Still there are a lot of people both good and bad out there. I’m not about to try and defend the bad, nor would I want to. But I do firmly believe in standing up for the good.


    • #4 by Prof.mcstevie on November 14, 2014 - 10:16 pm

      Agreed, although I DO find myself sometimes wondering if rewarding the good is a sign that we have reached a new kind of low, that at this point NOT being hateful and negative and what have you is an achievement rather than the neutral stance. The audacity of some saying they are great people for not smacking their children or cheating or breaking the law is astounding to me, was it ever considered praiseworthy to be a decent human being?


    • #5 by catb89 on November 14, 2014 - 10:22 pm

      Appologies my last reply was meant as an addition to my prior.
      In answer to your second reply. While we shouldn’t have to praise simply being a decent human being, it seems to have become necessary. And in light of it all it certainly beats trying to fight indecencey with more indecency. This pretty much sums up how I feel. http://joyreactor.com/post/1622967?social=1 I hope you get as much of a giggle out of it as I did.


    • #6 by Prof.mcstevie on November 14, 2014 - 10:26 pm

      ….there was a giggle yes.

      Like all things I prefer to judge by basis rather than generalize, however I often feel that those who dole out indecency without cause or reason are the ones who then DESERVE to receive that negativity back. Treat those as you wish to be treated, if you are being hateful you clearly are inviting people to be so upon you.


    • #7 by catb89 on November 14, 2014 - 10:32 pm

      I can appreciate that, just because passive resistance is my way and I feel it works for me does not make it right for everyone. I accept that. I’m proud to be the way I am, but I would hate to be arrogant about it.


    • #8 by Prof.mcstevie on November 14, 2014 - 10:34 pm

      It would be pointless if we all followed the same methods, we’d never find out what works when and what doesn’t!


    • #9 by catb89 on November 14, 2014 - 10:44 pm

      So very true, different people need to tailor their methods to suit them.
      I would also like to say I also accept I’m not entirely perfect with my own method, it mostly works for me, and I aspire to resolve things peacefully if I can, whenever I can.
      But I know when to stop flogging a dead horse and try something else when stuck. I can rant up a storm to let off steam if needs be. And would be more than ready to throw a punch if a situation ever arose where physical defence were absolutely necessary.
      Sadly some folk, especially in real life seem to think my being a passifist by nature is a licence to treat me like a door mat. But they are wrong. So I can empthasise with where you are coming from to a decent extent.


    • #10 by catb89 on November 14, 2014 - 10:18 pm

      I suppose I’m like you in atleast one aspect, negativity doesn’t do it for me either.
      So I try as best I can to focus on and encourage the good.


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