How 30 years of gaming shaped my skills

How 30 years of gaming shaped my skills

April 24, 2024

I’ve been immersed in the world of video games for about 30 years, guess what, I still suck at it. However, I’ve discovered that gaming has equipped me with some valuable skills that extend beyond the virtual realm. While I don’t claim that video games will turn you into a genius or replace formal education, they do offer surprising benefits.

Finding and processing information

User guide - RTFM

The good old pre-Google era. The game refuses to start? Well tough luck if you don’t find the answer somewhere in the obscure 200-page motherboard instruction guide.

Online search - LMGTFY

I was exposed to Internet quite early, about 20 years ago. What a game changer! (pun intended). Finding resources, friends and help online became a second nature. This skill of efficiently using online resources such as forums, search engines, websites to find answers has been invaluable in my daily life.

Data processing

Concrete example: a game such as DOTA features more than a 100 heroes, each of them with 4 unique skills. Factoring in the fact you can level up these skills, that’s about 6,000 data points. Then you add modifiers from objects, and you get the picture: playing games need people to absorb a lot of data, fast, and do quick maths. It’s also not uncommon to use Excel files to make some advanced calculations and planning.

Computer and Network Hardware

The never-ending quest for optimisation

Another vivid memory: Warcraft II could not start because I was missing 4kb (not a typo) of available RAM. It took me a couple of days, but I had to create a special floppy disk with an optimised boot sequence to save memory. The last kilobyte was saved by only initiating in memory two drive letters (A for floppy disk and C for hard disk) instead of the whole alphabet.

Network Troubleshooting

Solving network connectivity problems when you try to create/join an online game will teach you infinite patience. People familiar with the topic will understand. The other people just won't get it.

A bunch of random useful skills

English proficiency

I started slow by helping a fan site to translate English to French content. Then I started playing on English-speaking servers and finally made the switch to English-speaking games, because I simply preferred the original voice actors. To this day I owe my current English proficiency to story-rich games and watching the Simpsons.

Fast Typing and muscle memory

Chatting with fellow gamers during intense battles required quick typing, which is a valuable skill for work, communication, and productivity. Gaming involves mastering keyboard shortcuts and controller combinations. This muscle memory extends to other software applications. I navigate spreadsheets, design tools, and text editors effortlessly.

Reading a Screen

Video games bombard players with information—health bars, maps, quest logs, and tooltips. My ability to scan and process visual data has improved, making me efficient at reading complex documents or web pages.

Quickly getting around a new software

As a gamer, I get constantly exposed to new interface, mechanics, documentations and so on. It's half of the fun to learn how to use a new game. Not only it taught me about the important of user experience, but it's quite simple for me to find my way around a new piece of software.


Video games aren’t just pixels and polygons; they’re a training ground for skills that transcend the screen. So, the next time someone questions your gaming hobby, remind them that you’re honing problem-solving abilities, mastering tech, and levelling up your real-world skills—one game at a time.

Bonus round: recommended games

Let’s be honest, you won’t learn anything by playing an advertising-riddled mobile game solely designed to create frustration all day long. Here are a couple of suggestions. But remember, gaming is fun so don’t take it too seriously!

  • Factorio. This is the textbook example. There are well documented articles on Internet mentioning this will help you to acquire a programming mindset
  • Any Civilization game: requires a lot of planning and thinking.
  • Any RPGs with an excellent story and world building. Mass Effect or The Witcher comes to mind.
  • RTS with in-depth mechanics and great story: Starcraft, Warcraft, C&C, Total Annihilation…