Sorry Mom, Here Are 3 Things I Learned From Video Games

I was often told growing up that video games would rot my eyes out. It’s a horrific idea, one that my younger self tested any chance my parents would leave me alone for long enough. I spent hours failing in Star Fox and Ocarina of Time, countless sleepovers getting lapped in Mario Kart and after school hangouts flying offscreen and exploding in Super Smash Bros.

It was a constant battle between my parents and I. I would still argue those were hours well spent.

3 Things I Learned From Video Games

1. It’s okay to fail, in fact it’s probably good for you.

Super Smash Bros taught me it was okay to fail. I really didn’t have much of choice on this one though. It was either accept failure and keep having fun with friends or go home and be sad.

At first, I often felt like I should give up and go home. Thankfully, I didn’t because it would have been the worst choice I could have made. Losing at something is the opportunity to stare your weaknesses in the face. You have the opportunity to look at your opponent’s victory and think what did they do better? Why did they win? It’s also the opportunity to look at your own performance and think “What mistakes did I make and how can I improve?”

Losses taught me something and still teach me things today, wins just made me feel good. Losses, both professionally and personally are opportunities for growth and change. Wins today are just the results of what we’ve learned from losses.


2. Doing the wrong thing over and over again isn’t fun and actually a pretty crazy thing to do

I was taught in school that I can do anything I want in life as long as I work really, really hard it.

I was told “Always persevere and you will succeed because you put in the hours.”

This isn’t terrible advice, but it’s misguided. Doing the same thing, the same way, over and over is the long and challenging road to becoming successful at something.

Video games taught me that if I fail more than three times while trying to accomplish something I am doing something wrong and I need to change my approach. For example, if I think I can jump a particular gap in Super Mario by running fast enough and fail enough times I will eventually learn Mario can’t run that fast. He can’t make that jump and I need to think of a different solution.

This is super important in all aspects of life. If something isn’t working for me, I don’t just approach it the same again and again. I rethink it.


3. Spend your time and energy on things that make you feel good, because they make you feel good.

No one plays video games because it was what their parents said they should be doing. No one plays because of where playing that game will get them. They play because it makes them feel good in one way or another.

Some people play for delight, others for the validation that comes with being skilled in something they love.

Work and pleasure should follow this philosophy. If your profession doesn’t make you feel good. Why are you doing it? If a video game stops being fun. Stop playing.

Now as an adult I apply the same philosophy to my career. If it stops being a positive experience, I would do something else.

Thankfully I love what I do.

story written by Airrick Dunfield