Five Real Life Lessons I Learned From Childhood Video Games
1.) Resource Allocation
Video Game Example: Resident Evil
Resident Evil, especially the first three of the series, taught me that sometimes it’s best to avoid a situation where it could cost you everything in order to reserve what little ammunition you have. I remember getting close to the end of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis with absolutely zero ammunition and already injured. As soon as I would try to run for it, I’d die. Being the derpy 12-year-old I was, I of course didn’t have multiple save points so had to restart… the entire game. I learned quickly to only use what I desperately needed and to save the rest.
Being an, ahem, financially strapped college student, I use this same principle when it comes to money. If I only have a limited cash flow, I know to only use that money in times of urgent need and in order of importance. The priority, especially as an upperclassman, went a little something like: Beer, Coffee, Bills, School-related purchases, and lastly food.
Okay, so maybe that lesson wasn’t quite as well-learned.
2.) Problem Solving
Video Game Example: Lemmings
I vividly recall playing this game on my Sega Genesis and when those little guys with green hair would start falling into the pits I would yell at my television screen. “I put a bridge there! What’s going on! Oh, it’s not far enough.” I learned quickly to notice the problem areas and, using the crude resources given to me, race to devise a strategy. Drop too far? Give them an umbrella! Can’t dig? Blow one of the lemmings up!
Nowadays I don’t have to worry about falling into any pits or getting stuck in a patch of dirt, but I do have the ability to notice problems and, using what is available to me, sort out a solution. If I only have ten minutes to get to class, but the building is on the opposite side of campus, what should I do? The answer, people, is RUN.
Video Game Example: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Now, this may have been the first video game I ever played on the computer that wasn’t in a two-dimensional world, so it may have been my fault that the controls were absolutely atrocious for the beginning gamer. Regardless, that stupid obstacle course on Lara’s grounds kept me angry and bitter for a long time before I was able to complete it without error. You’d have to stand on the very last pixelated edge of a pillar to jump and dive and, hopefully, catch the edge of the next pillar.
Persistence is the key to learning any new skill. If I didn’t learn this, I would not be writing this article. I probably would have quit after my first horrid attempt at writing. I wouldn’t dare to keep at it and work towards bettering my grasp of the English language if I didn’t learn that persistence was the key to improvement.
Video Game Example: The Sims
If I remember correctly, The Sims came out at roughly the same time that Tomagotchi and Neopets became fads. All three of these things were what I like to think of as Step 1 to Responsibility. Sure there were no real effects of being a lackluster overseer, but to this 12 year old the thought of seeing one of my virtual pets (and yes, I am calling my Sims my pets) die was a horrifying one. If I forgot to feed it, they died. If I forgot to clean up after them, they smelled. Perhaps it was all just a large social experiment to teach my generation that we all were lacking in the hygiene skills department? We are, after all, the last generation to play in dirt after the age of five.
If The Sims taught me anything, it’s that I am not responsible enough for a real living object to depend on me. I killed so many of my Sims due to negligence that I’m sure I’m on a Most Wanted poster in SimCity’s Police Department.
5.) The Importance of Thinking Outside of the Box and 5a.) The Importance of Typing Quickly
Video Game Example: King’s Quest
Oh, King’s Quest. In my mind, it is probably the most random mashup of folklore, pop culture, and random puzzles that ever graced the PC Gaming world. Where else could you be on a screen with a gingerbread house and witch, then suddenly get swooped up by a giant condor? Nothing beats spending a lot of time in the screens “LOOK”ing at something in the hopes that it would be useful later on. You needed a pretty good imagination in order to even think to climb that giant oak tree or to climb down the well in the bucket.
As for typing quickly, let’s go back to that condor. You had to type in the word “JUMP” in order to make Sir Graham jump into the condor’s talons. It must be timed perfectly. If you miss, you have to hope he shows up in another screen soon. After fifty or so attempts, you realize that you must type “JUMP” and hit enter (Two steps!) in such a short amount of time that the letters on the keyboard were probably rubbed off.