Has Euro Truck Simulator 2 improved your reverse trailer parking? Can you build a PC with PC Building Simulator, churn out the NATO phonetic alphabet and read maps at lightning speed with Arma, or figure out orbital mechanics with Kerbal Space Program? Maybe you learned actual programming from a Zachtronics game, in which case you’re better than me.
Did you learn a real-world skill from a game?
Here are our answers, plus some of our forum.
Robin Valentine, editor-in-chief: Crusader Kings really taught me a lot about medieval politics, especially the laws of succession. You’ll never forget the first time your kingdom went from running like clockwork to splitting into three and being thrown into chaos just because you didn’t know what “gavelkind” was. This is a very direct lesson on why there were so many succession crises during this period. And as you learn strategies to prevent this from happening again, you realize that these are the same strategies used by true leaders, like Christian kings who send troublesome sons to the church or the constantly conquering Vikings to seize enough land for inheritance. The series isn’t completely accurate, but it includes enough real-life information to teach you about medieval religions, cultures, noble families, military forces, and more.
Phil Savage, editor: Thanks to the Yakuza series, I now understand the rules of Mahjong. This, so far, has not proven to be helpful at all in my day-to-day life. But I’m pretty good at the Mahjong Handle, a Wordle-a-like for guessing a Mahjong hand.
Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: I can’t handle games with my hands, so Mahjong was out, but Yakuza games taught me how different darts games are actually scored. It’s not exactly a miracle skill in the real world, but I put it to good use recently coaching an acquaintance in a bar through the right targets to aim for in a cricket dartboard. It wasn’t my fault he was way too drunk to get the win. The strategic advice was totally solid.
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: I learned a lot of theory that I will absolutely never use in games. Sure, I know all about truck reverse parking from Euro Truck Simulator 2, but I don’t drive a car. I’m as likely to use this knowledge as the things I learned about BDSM playing Ladykiller in a Bind.
The one undeniably useful skill I learned in PC gaming is simply knowing how to use a computer. You have to be on the go to get games running, get mods working, fix things when they break? It taught me an incredibly useful life skill and I owe it all to good old PC gaming.
Toxic Offender: The Sims taught me all about social interaction with others and thanks to Hitman, I also know how to get rid of it without being noticed.
Pifanjr: I learned most of my English from video games. I started playing very young, so my brother had to translate a lot for me. He was always fascinated by the language, so he was an excellent teacher and video games were a great source of motivation to learn.
ZedClampet: I learned a lot about cars by playing Car Mechanic Simulator games. I can now open the hood and tell you what all the parts are and what they do. I can also recognize different types of farming equipment and know what they do by playing Farming Simulator games.
DXCHASE: Having long play sessions at night as a kid helped me develop the ability to work easily at night and not feel tired at 4, 5, or 6 in the morning.
Wooden saucer: I learned how to secure land and defuse bombs while playing minesweeper. I also learned how to negotiate peace treaties between kings and queens of various nations and implement prisoner exchanges, playing solitaire.
But thinking about it, I guess Solitaire is really a bit racist. You take a deck full of diversity and work as hard as possible to separate the different suits/races to where they are meant to belong.
Johnway: Doorkickers. The only game that made me go to the web and learn CQB tactics by swat teams. Namely breach and entry and how to clean rooms etc. That didn’t stop my team from becoming Swiss cheese on some missions.
McStabStab: In 1999, when Counter-Strike came out in its first form as a mod for Half-Life, I wasn’t even in high school yet. My typing skills have increased by leaps and bounds because before voice communication was in games, the only way to talk about trash was to type it. I attribute my fast typing ability to C:S.
Zloth: I learned a lot about aviation during WWII from Air Warrior. Terms like split-S, immelmann, tonneau barrel… We even had a convention in Washington DC to see the plane in museums. I don’t know if you would call it a skill or just knowledge, but I’m thrilled with it.
Sarafan: This probably won’t be the answer precisely intended by the questioner, but I actually learned from games how programming scripts work. Many years ago I was a map designer for the first Starcraft and Operation Flashpoint (ARMA: Cold War Assault).
When I started my journey with modding, I had exactly no knowledge of how games work. I dreamed of creating my own content, so I started to tackle the Starcraft 1 editor. Step by step and thanks to the work of other modders, I started to reverse engineer existing maps. This helped me understand that to perform an action, you must assign conditions to them and voila! The hardest thing about creating new maps has become child’s play!
With Operation Flashpoint, it was even more interesting. There is no way to open campaign maps created by existing developers without some serious work and I desperately needed to understand the scripting commands used in some of them. What did I do? I opened the campaign file in Notepad. Among some standard gibberish you get when you open such files this way were some nice standard text fragments and among other things these are the scripts I was looking for. Now I just needed to scroll to the desired mission and find the script I was looking for or just auto-search the file, when I was suspicious of the correct words used in it.
Overall, this experience gave me a lot of knowledge about game publishers. Although I’ve never stepped up and started playing around with something more powerful (like the Creation Kit for Bethesda games for example), I still have plans to use the things I learned that way.
Fridis: I’m good at solving problems and creating stories and I think part of that comes from countless hours of solving puzzles in point-and-click games and being able to really dive into the story of different games.
I have good hand-eye coordination with strong reflexes from countless hours in FPS games. It has definitely helped me in different sports, not to mention having better situational awareness overall.
I have no problem with public speaking. I’ll produce a text and tell anyone no problem, and bits and pieces of that trait I believe come from times in TeamSpeak and similar channels with different roles in MMO games, obviously with the motivational push a friend or two.
Playing games also made me more interested in audio/video editing, although I didn’t go so far as to make a video machinima or similar. I do think about streaming though, so in that sense the game has opened up a new way/idea for me to play and maybe also make a living doing it in the long run.
A greater thirst for learning, I would most certainly say that the game thought of me. Right now I’m playing Assasin Creed Valhalla (Day 1) and can’t wait to jump into the educational section of the game and learn more about my own heritage as the game is set in Norway.
The great joy of playing with my nephews is one of the greatest and being able to educate them on how to play from a young age of maybe 6-7 and also learning from them while following their path to adulthood.
There is so much more I could have added. Seriously, I could probably write a book about what gambling did to my upbringing and how it still affects me deeply. The learning aspect and with it its skills always evolve in this direction.