Video Games: An Overlooked Source of Life Lessons (II)

Video Games

In CJ’s own words: “Ah, shit, here we go again.” If life lessons would take the shape of water, then video games would be a well full of it. Last time, I’ve talked about the simplest yet most overlooked source of life lessons. Simple stuff, like the health bar, the journal, the map, the objective list (click here to check them out). Today, we’re stepping up a notch. No, I’m not saying the former ones are less important, I’m just saying these are a tiny bit more complex in their fabric. I’m also going to give you one game that I think depicts that respective lesson very well. Let’s dive into them, shall we?


I can barely name a game where comradery is not a thing, maybe those in which you’re a lonely warrior. Even in games where you fly solo you sometimes encounter friendlies who you bond with. Games are especially good at making you feel part of the team. In almost all of them, it is made clear to you that you and the squad are one. You take care of your team, and they take care of you. Brothers and sisters not by blood, but by a bond (there are instances where you are actual brothers and sisters).

Life, as well as video games, put you in situations where one realizes that we can’t do it alone. Man is a social creature, part of a tribe, and that idea is made clear to the player. How was that African proverb again? “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Recommended title – Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

There’s always a solution

Movies do it as well, books do it as well. But I think video games give you another side to this lesson. YOU are the one who controls the actions of the character. This is an experience in which you are involved directly, actively. At times, the story will unfold so that doom seems to be imminent, with no chance for survival or victory. And it’s true, sometimes the story has no good ending, but more often than not, games find a way to show you that you can do it. Collectively or singularly, but there is a way forward. Games will play with your emotions, but they often have a moralizing outcome. In a more literal sense, you might get stuck in a level and not knowing how to proceed. Thus, you need to use all of your brainpower to find a way to advance.

Recommended title – Portal 2

Nothing can make a difference without sacrifice

Whether we realize it or not, few things come in life without others going away. You might need to sacrifice smoking to live for more years. You may need to let go of your hometown to pursue the career you dreamed of. In video games, for the sake of storytelling, the sacrifices are often amplified. How many times a few members of your squad died for the rest of you to catch the bad guy? Sometimes, the character will become disabled by the end of the game, losing some part of their body or mind. Spider-Man and superhero games, in general, come to mind when thinking about sacrifice. However, another game takes the cake when it comes to sacrificing everything you have for a higher purpose.

Recommended title – Red Dead Redemption 2

Great satisfaction? Great odds! (Difficulty level)

This has more to do with the human psyche and the achievement feeling that something can give you. Sure, it’s nice when everything is easy and going according to plan. But my oh my, the satisfaction you get when defeating a level on the highest difficulty is just wow. It can feel like the sort of sensory quote on quote orgasm you might get when listening to an awesome song. It’s the same in life really, although people like me struggle with perseverance. When you get that good grade that you worked hard for, that prize, that job, it’s worth it. You feel otherworldly. Don’t believe me? Crank up that difficulty to Veteran or Serious or Mental or whatever that game’s got, and let that sweat flow. You’ll have a workout like few others.

Recommended title – Dark Souls

Doing your homework will give you the win

This is perhaps the staple of strategy games. Just about any game gives you rewards if you actually plan your moves, but strategy games are in a league of themselves. And because I’m so bad at planning and persevering, I naturally suck at them. In real life, documenting what you’re going to do next might give you the edge you need to win at life. In games, scouting the enemy base, preparing to deflect assaults, counting the number of opponents and the paths that you can take is the equivalent of homework. You do your homework, you win. Skip homework? You might win if you’re lucky, but most often than not, you’ll face the “You failed” screen. So you’ll need to take a break, chill, reassess your plans, and try again.

Recommended title – Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2

I’m interested in knowing what video games embody these lessons for you? Also, what lessons would you want me to cover in future articles? Leave your thoughts down below.

Source of featured image: 505 Games


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