Video Games That Can Teach You Real-World Skills
If you’ve played games for any length of time, you’ve likely heard this at some point from your parents/significant other/teacher/driving instructor: Put those games down! They’ll rot your brain! And watch the road! Yeah, sometimes that’s true. I’ve collected enough doodads and saved enough worlds that they all start to blend together into a mindless mash of bullets and gruff space marines. But not all games are brainless.
Some actually strive to teach you something. Games aren’t just an amazing entertainment medium. They’re a powerful tool that can be used to teach countless skills in ways that are way more compelling than sitting through two-hour lectures or filling out a hundred workbook pages. Play these games and you might actually learn something, much to your parents’ chagrin. Eat that, mom and dad! I mean, thank you for raising me, and I appreciate the birthday check you sent last month. Yes, I will call more.
The incessant clacking of plastic guitars may sound like nothing more than a cacophony of noise, but it’s the first step down the road to music appreciation and developing actual rhythm. Games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band let you take apart individual sections of songs and focus on them, subtly teaching you how the bassline for, say, Reptilia fits in with the rest of the song.
But if you want to graduate to actual rocking, well, you’re in luck. Rock Bands drum controller is actually a pretty reasonable facsimile of the real thing, complete with four drum pads and a foot pedal. While it’s missing a few items from a full kit (namely the hi-hat), if you’re drumming on expert, you’re probably ready to join a band.
If you’re looking to get good at playing guitar (or bass), Rock Band 3s pro controller will help teach you actual chord structure. Or, hell, just grab a real guitar and hook it up to Rocksmith, a game that actually teaches you how to play guitar by slowly increasing difficulty levels and throwing fun mini-games your way. With enough dedication, you could go from gamer to rock god in a few months.
You’ve seen Apollo 13, right? Three people get shoved inside a tin can, shot into space, everything goes horribly wrong, and somehow they get back to Earth relatively unharmed? Yeah, outer space is hard, and it’s probably best to get some hands-on rocket-building experience without sacrificing actual people to do it.
That’s where Kerbal Space Program comes in. Learn how to send your lovable Kerbals into space, land them on the moon, or get them to orbit their home planet through loads of trial-and-error (mostly error). You’ll need to take into account things like trajectory, gravity, weight, propulsion, fuel, rocket shape, and more to launch your Kerbals out of the atmosphere (and build a subsequent rocket to rescue those Kerbals once the first mission inevitably goes south).
It’s a fantastic way to learn actual rocket science. Hell, even NASA has endorsed the game, providing additional add-on missions and digital rocket parts for the realistic space-sim. Just don’t think too much about the Kerbals you’ve sent to their doom. It’s all in the name of science.
Back in my day (God, I’m so old), if you wanted to learn about science or engineering, you got a few wires, some clock pieces, a potato, and you went from there. Now? Well, we’ve got Minecraft, and it’s not just good for punching trees and turning them into swords or whatever you kids do these days. Nope, now you can actually learn electrical engineering, thanks to an in-game mineral known as Redstone.
With Redstone, you can power all sorts of mechanical devices. But it’s not as simple as just hooking it up to whatever. No, much like actual electricity, correctly using Redstone means having to wrap your brain around how its current moves, splits and transforms based on the blocks you use. Throw in some different logic gates and if you’re is good enough, you can create something as complex as a working calculator. So yeah, if you figure out how to use Redstone, you could probably figure out how to properly wire an actual city block with energy. Or at least how to wire up a clock without using any potatoes.
The impact of video games on young people has gotten a lot of criticism, but more studies are finding that they could have some benefits. Last month, scientists revealed that those who play action games have better motor skills. Then just last week, a scientist in the U.S. found zero links between violence in video games and real life.
Now, researchers at the University of Rochester in the U.S. have for the first time discovered that playing fast-paced action video games can make you a better learner. The team compared the cognitive abilities of action-gamers (those who play games like “Call of Duty” ) with non-action gamers (those who play games like “The Sims” ).
Participants were asked to complete a series of ‘pattern discrimination tasks’ that tested their reaction time and identification skills, such as identifying fuzzy shapes on a screen. The results showed that action-gamers were much faster at the tasks than non-action gamers. Based on these findings, the team suggests that action gamers brains are able to create a better learning ‘template’ for the task at hand. “our brains keep predicting what will come next – whether when listening to music, driving, or even performing surgery,” said lead researcher and neuroscientist Daphne Bavelier, in a press release. “in order to sharpen its prediction skills, our brains constantly build models, or ‘templates,’ of the world. “.
As a busy small business owner, you probably can’t afford to kick back and get lost in Halo or Guitar Hero. But with the diverse, advanced games that are out today, you can actually learn a valuable business skill or two. It may not be real-world experience, but some of the decisions you’re forced to make in the virtual realm are situations you probably encounter in business. So to ensure the greatest return on your investment, we consulted gaming expert Greg Miller, executive editor at leading video game website ign.com, to pick the five best video games for building your business skills.