I am a video gamer at heart. Playing and improving my games skills is one of those things that spark joy for me now in the exact same way as it did 10 years ago.
But the comments I got about playing were not the positive ones. On the contrary, I was often told I’m lazy, I should do something with my life, go play outside or a classical one heard by every Polish child back in the days – “no one will pay you for staring at a computer monitor for a whole day”.
(well, who’s laughing now)
But when I recently sat and thought about it, I realised that video gaming actually taught me 4 irreplaceable skills I use all the time.
To this day I remember this one level in the Adventures of Lomax that looked like the Wild West and where walking hats were shooting at you. I remember it because for days I just couldn’t pass this level as a kid.
And such levels taught me a lot about perseverance.
In professional life you will encounter multiple situations where you have to persist in what you’re doing despite the fact it’s difficult. It is even more important in Data Science, when there is a high chance you will get to the point of being stuck and not knowing how to improve.
So any time you’re stuck next time just think about it as a level that you will undoubtedly pass – sooner or later.
Thinking outside of the box
Another spectacular game I played as a kid was The Pink Panther (my all time favourite was Hokus Pokus Pink). And although I would like to keep it in the realm of child’s innocence, the time when I played it correlates strongly with the time I’ve learnt some nasty curse words (coincidence?).
This game was full of surprises, mysteries, and complex schemas. It was like the extended version of a labyrinth that you could just immerse into.
Such games give you a ton of experience in thinking outside of the box. In development, it’s often crucial to think about this one particular thing that will differentiate you from others doing exactly the same thing as you. It also helps with communicating better by thinking about various ways of visualising or explaining things. And finally, it may be a skill allowing you to think about a problem itself in a totally different manner that can result in better solutions for the future users.
During the pandemic, one of the things that bonded my team was playing Among Us during our lunch breaks. For those who lived under a rock for the last 1.5 years (it was a tough time, I get it), it is a game in which you cooperate with others to execute tasks on a spaceship, but amongst your team mates are some impostors who try to sabotage you and your actions. Your goal – finish tasks, find impostors, don’t get killed (oh yeah, have I mentioned you can be killed by your friends and never trust them again?).
Cooperation is not only a skill of communicating well to others – it is the ability to strategize knowing what others are doing, lifting ourselves up when we need a hand and, in some cases, also being suspicious and alert if the things someone says are in fact true. This comes in handy in development, because we often encounter situations when for example one task blocks execution of another, and only by proper cooperation we can reduce such bottlenecks to a minimum.
I found this bonding immensely valuable for my team. After all, it’s important to know if you can get help if you need it.
Thinking ahead of others and adapting to change quickly
You, a vast map, a gun in your hand, and the feeling that your opponent is somewhere there, lurking around to find you. This is a description of many Player vs. Player games, but my all time favourite of this type are any games related to the Star Wars universe like Jedi Academy (yeah, I know, I should’ve said chess in this section to sound more mature).
When you play against another player, it’s not only about predicting someone’s strategy and thinking ahead of them. It’s also the skill to adapt to a possible change that happened and correct your predictions dynamically.
In an ever changing world like ours, where more and more things are getting automated every day, you need those abilities to ensure your well-being. It does not mean working like crazy and always being up to date with everything, on the contrary. It means thinking how to do something easier or with less work, how to use someone’s mistakes to learn how to be more effective and live a stable and fulfilling life.
I know now that games changed my life and absolutely no one can convince me otherwise. If you feel like me, remember – next time someone nudges you to do work just because they think you’re lazy and only play games, just tell them you’re working on business skills. But still you can also try learning some Python too! 😉