10 Reasons Growing Up on PC Games Made Me a Responsible Adult
There's a lesson in everything we do, even when you're playing as a fat, Italian plumber who does no actual plumbing.
A common refrain among parents is that video games will ruin your life. However, I recently realized that there are a lot of ways that playing video games actually helped me to become a responsible adult. Adulthood is definitely scary when it’s looming over your head, but if you take a closer look at the things you love, you can pick up a lot of valuable lessons from them.
Here are the things that I learned from growing up on PC games...
1. Time Management
Nostalgia attack! Does it feel enough like the ’90s yet?
I’m sure you feel skeptical about this; after all, who knows more than gamers about spending lots of time on something?
My age is showing, but here goes: I learned time management because I grew up on dial-up Internet.
Most people who remember dial-up groan and cringe at the sound of the noise that meant we were connecting.
But I associate that sound with freedom.
You need more pylons. Whether you can build them or not.
Let me explain. My dad has worked nights almost my entire life. So for us, we grew accustomed to his schedule and tend to sleep in until he gets up.
I’ve had insomnia since I was really little, but Saturday mornings were the one time I knew I had complete reign over the downstairs.
I began to get up early on Saturdays and ended up having about 4 hours to myself to use the Internet with no interference at all. The sound of dial-up, to me, is the sweet sound of “I can do whatever I want.”
Of course, that time was mostly spent playing computer games and going on the Nintendo forums (which no longer exist in their original form).
Despite my insomnia, I actively chose to get up early so I could have time to do the things I enjoyed without someone griping about wanting to use the computer or make a phone call.
I learned time management from games, simply because I valued being able to sit in peace and quiet while doing the things I loved the most.
This skill has saved my butt so many times. Choosing to alter a part of your schedule is a big commitment, but it paid off because I was able to apply this ability to finding time to both work and play without getting too stressed.
Don’t tell me you didn’t love the crap out of Pocket Tanks.
This might sound a bit silly, but I think video games helped to teach me to be entertained on my own. I’ve always loved reading, just as much as I love video games, and having these two hobbies really taught me that I didn’t need other people in order to have fun.
The majority of my social interaction happened at school, not outside of it, so having a hobby at such a young age helped me to avoid feeling lonely.
Amnesia: the Dark Descent reminds me a lot of the games I played growing up.
Sure, I had friends that I was close to, but I kept to myself most of the time after school hours. I never felt like I had a deprived childhood because I was on my own during my free time.
As an adult, this has carried over, so I don’t feel bad if I spend the evening at home—in fact, I prefer it!
I’m one of the few people that played educational games for fun. (Yes, boo, I’m no fun. I’m so boring. Yadda, yadda, yadda.)
Reading Blaster and the Encarta Mindmaze game were ones I spent hours and hours playing. Yukon Trail is still a game that I’m incredibly fond of and nostalgic for. Amazon Trail 2 (didn’t like the first one) taught me about geography, diplomacy, fishing, history, culture, native plants, animals, photography, and much, much more.
The Encarta game was a labyrinth that asked questions that you could find the answers to in an encyclopedia. Getting answers correct would advance you in the maze.
And let’s not forget about Carmen Sandiego, my favorite expert on traveling and the treasures of the world. Carmen taught me about asking the right questions and paying attention to even the tiniest piece of information.
The real boss of the world.
Sorry, Mario Teaches Typing. I wish I could have appreciated you. But learning how to type sucked.
These games taught me that learning can be really fun and that it’s rewarding to be able to remember different types of information—and that remembering these things actually can matter in the long run.
However, Mavis Beacon is still my mortal enemy.
Many games do not offer the ability to choose or develop your alignment on the spectrum of good and evil, but there are quite a few these days that do.
Growing up on games gave me a lot of different perspectives on many types of people, allowing me to peek into their personal lives and understand that their existence is just as valid and important as mine.
By listening to the stories of characters in games, I was able to realize that my actions affected other people in ways that were different from how they affected me.
Modern-day games such as the Mass Effect series have expanded the realms of player choice in video games.
Some things never change.
Tired of those long download times? Try thinking about what it was like in the year 2002! Things were making progress in the realm of computers, but opening Web page and installing games weren’t the quickest of tasks.
The sound of dial-up, despite being the sound of freedom for me, isn’t exactly short. And the amount of time between one Saturday and the next time I could play console games wasn’t the shortest of times, either.
As a young person, it is the most difficult to be patient but is somehow the time of your life when everyone expects you to be the most patient.
Sure, I got to play Kingdom Hearts (not a PC game, but it’s the first one that came to mind for this example) for “only” four hours on Saturday, but when would be the next time I could play at all?
Definitely showing my age on this one.
Would the computer or T.V. be taken over by someone else? Would I prefer some peace and quiet on the Internet? Would I be able to wake up early enough to get anything done?
This kind of patience has helped me to sit through classes that seemed to be going nowhere. Being a more patient person as an adult has allowed me to control my temper and recognize that I sometimes need to slow down for a few minutes.
6. Resource Management
Oversized shorts? $40. Clown shoes? $80. Pixie dust? Priceless.
In most games, there is a variety of things that you can collect and hold onto until you need them, such as Phoenix Downs in the Final Fantasy series.
It’s not just about hoarding money so you can buy stuff for the final boss—you have to decide if you want to use your last potion on this one battle when you know there is another battle coming up that may be much harder.
I haven’t started planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse, but I think we as gamers are definitely more capable of managing our resources and stockpiling what we will need in the future.
7. A Sense of Community
Even though the Internet wasn’t quite like it is today, the gaming community had already begun to gather and discuss what we’d been playing.
GameFAQs was already developing a base of users, and the Nintendo forums were basically my home away from home. I’m still friends with some of the people I met on there.
These guys will always be friends, too.
Being able to talk about games wasn’t just “oh, this is what I’ve been working on recently” or “this is my favorite character”—it was working together to find new solutions to difficult puzzles, too.
It was like a happy little fan club where we could help each other and gush about the cool stuff we’d seen recently. Because I didn’t spend much time with people outside of school, these were the friends I could talk about gaming with the most. I was often alone, especially during middle school, so I was able to actually talk about one of my favorite hobbies with others—without even having to leave my house.
My new best friend!
Instead of growing up feeling lonely, I found a community that helped me to remember that I wasn’t alone. Knowing this feeling allowed me to join a gaming club in college and to eventually become an officer. My main job as an officer was to handle any internal disputes, and ensuring that our club was a safe place for everyone felt like one of the most natural things in the world for me.
There was a guy that was scaring people off by being creepy, and helping him become better at socializing was actually really rewarding. He’s even getting better at it still.
Game companies are now acknowledging that characters can mean a lot to players.
Realizing that we’re outliers is one of the first steps to becoming a more well-rounded human being.
Yes, gaming culture has become more than just a small group of outcasts these days, but the empathy we developed as loners has helped out a lot in my daily life.
Instead of judging people when I meet them, I acknowledge that everybody is different.
And some people will just hate you as much as you hate them.
A lot of us have been ostracized for our appearance and for our awkwardness with others. It’s important to remember what that was like.
Somebody may not be the type of person you expect to play games, but that doesn’t make their existence and hobbies any less valid.
Even the smallest actions matter.
Have you ever royally messed up in a game when you haven’t saved recently? Have you ever saved right before a big event in case you needed to re-do it? Have you ever mashed down on the power button to keep a game from saving after you did something stupid?
I think most gamers have.
But there are also times when you wish you could reset it but are unable to, and you have to live with whatever decisions you made.
How about a baptism?
In many games, your actions directly affect other characters, and the plot is sometimes linked to these small decisions or screw-ups.
Gaming has made me more accountable for my actions. Instead of just jumping in impulsively, I try to consider all of the possible consequences. Just think of your life as a game without save points.
Each thing you say or do or think will affect your life and the lives of the people around you. Use that power wisely.
10. A Sense of Purpose
Act with purpose. It’s fun to run around without a goal in mind, but think about how much more satisfying it is to complete a quest or beat a tough boss fight.
If you don’t live your life without specific purposes in mind, you end up just sitting around wondering why you haven’t done more with yourself.
In games, you mostly have NPCs to act as bumpers to make sure you stay on track. But in real life, you have to be your own Navi.
Train yourself to observe your surroundings and to examine your own life. Are you just playing games all day? Or are you using games to reward yourself for a hard day of work?
It can be tough at times, but accomplishing something always feels better than frittering time away. Yes, it’s fun to sit and play idle games or tower defenses or whatever else you like. But do the games you play have goals in them?
Do you have a goal for what you’re getting out of gaming?
I’m not saying games can’t and shouldn’t be fun. I would never say that. But growing up on games made me realize that getting stuff done is actually more satisfying than something mindless.
Guild Wars 2 is unlike any other MMORPG on the market right now.
I like games that make me feel like I’m doing something and that the things I do actually matter in the sense of how the game responds to them (props to you, Shadow of Mordor and Guild Wars 2).
Do you actually care about your game of Cookie Clicker? Or do you feel better when you build a Rube Goldberg machine in Minecraft?
What’s more entertaining—a match of Temple Run 2 or completing a difficult temple in Tomb Raider?
Playing video games has reminded me that other things matter too. Yeah, it’s fun to spend hours on Nightmare mode of Diablo III. But it’s also really fun to finish writing a novel, to finish up a big project, to finish cooking a delicious meal.
Open up the curtains just a little bit. The games will still be there a few hours from now. But friends and opportunities don’t last forever.