Education Through Gaming
"To make an embarrassing admission, I like video games. That's what got me into software engineering when I was a kid. I wanted to make money so I could buy a better computer to play better video games - there's nothing like saving the world." - Elon Musk
I love video games! I know, you're dazed with the revelation that a Millennial might enjoy playing computer games. [/Sarcasm] But I love them for a slightly different reason than you might expect. You see, when I look at the time I've spent playing games, I see a recreational roadmap that has provided the impetus to develop some of my most valuable skills, interests, and friendships. My perspective, seeing gaming as a valuable tool for self-enrichment, is rather unpopular. Many people seem to see playing video games as nothing but wasted time, totally unproductive and valueless. If you doubt me, just ask my aunt!
What is valueless time? Video games stretch our brains to solve complex problems. They allow us to build friendships all over the planet. They provide relief from the stress of "real life" by giving a place where we can consistently achieve victory, and they can expose us to entirely new ideas.
No one has ever gone to their deathbeds saying "I wish I spent more time in the office", but many have wished they had "spent more time with the people they love". Because of video games, I know and love people in Kansas, Japan, Indiana, New Zealand, Illinois, England, and California. I'm friends with an English Lion Tamer and a Taiwanese Real Estate Magnate. I have a huge international network of friends and family with whom I've built amazing social capital through our shared interest in gaming. Online video games can be a vastly more in-depth collaboration and team building tool than any board game or sport.
Gaming has played a massive role in giving me (and my family) a release from the turmoil of our daily lives. It's provided a psychological outlet that few activities can match. Without gaming, I could have ended up in a very dark place. Instead, I had a place where I could go and win in my virtual life, even if victory in real life seemed very far away.
I have learned all kinds of things because of video games, from how to understand and predict economic change, to Adobe Illustrator, Excel, and practical business math. Because of how my Mom taught me to "Look it up", gaming has helped me build whole new interests and flesh out existing ones. For example, I know at least one thing about almost every production armored vehicle from 1916 to 1970. Is that knowledge useful? I don't know. But with knowledge, value and usefulness are not synonyms. How "useful" is knowing what happened on October 12, 1492?
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