Hey, Gamers! So, one of my main motives for starting this blog was to help get rid of the stigma surrounding video games. One way of doing that was to teach parents that video games teach kids things. I have learnt more in video games than I ever learnt at school. So, here are the top 10 things that I have learnt while playing video games.
Just wanted to throw out a quick trigger warning: I do mention being suicidal at some point in this post, and feeling very low, as well as mentioning abuse and homophobia. It’s not graphic and there are not many details, but I thought I should warn you beforehand.
Okay, this one is a bit touch and go… I haven’t completely mastered the Japanese language or anything. However, I play a lot of games that are voiced over by Japanese Voice Actors. For those who don’t know, I am dyslexic. Therefore, I struggle to read subtitles that just disappear as soon as the person is done speaking. While I often try to play with English Voice Actors, for this reason, it is generally looked down on in the gaming community as the original Voice Actors are thought to be better. There are also games (such as Yakuza 0) where English VA is not available. A result of this is I have gone out of my way to learn Japanese. I can easily pick up on certain phrases because I have played this type of video game. I think more than anything, video games have encouraged me to literally learn a whole new language (a difficult one, as they use kanji instead of letters) so that it’s a little easier for my brain to enjoy the gaming experience.
This one is so high up on the list because Joshua (my fiancé) would argue that I still don’t have a patient bone in my body. However, I argue that… despite still struggling with being impatient at times, I’ve gotten significantly better at being patient. I don’t feel sick anymore when I’m feeling impatient, and I don’t immediately give up a game that is difficult which was a huge thing for me. Being completely honest here, I used to play games on easy because I was just too impatient to grind and actually try-hard. I started Yakuza 0 yesterday (a game Josh is obsessed with right now) and he said to me “it’s okay, y’know, if you play it on easy”. I paused for a second and really thought about it, before replying “I’m better than that” and pressing normal. That was a big moment for me because it was a huge self-esteem thing as well. That would be a great time to move on, but I wanted to add that I can also now play a game multiple times, and I actively grind in Persona 5. I wouldn’t have done any of this if it wasn’t for my increased patience.
8) My worth
This one is a very personal one and really it should be higher up but it’s still a thing I’m working on so it’s good here. I have never really had good self-esteem. I’ve always thought poorly of myself. But getting my entire team to level 99 makes me feel a little bit better. Another thing, and I’m always going to bring it up and he hates it but, me and Josh have a kind of competition when it comes to games (or at least… I think we do). I’ve talked about the process of him playing a game, telling me I’ll like it, me refusing to play it and then I give in and love it. But because he has already played the game, I am constantly comparing my playthrough to his (which is why he didn’t go past my position when Royal came out, even though he got through the game at a much faster pace). When we played the Witcher 3, I had to get less failed quests than he did (which I actually succeeded in). The thing is, Josh had played Persona 5 for a very long time before I even began to consider playing it. So when I completed the Big Bang Burger Challenge, and got all my social stats up to 5 when he still had one left after completing the game… that was it. That was when I realised that I was no longer bad at everything. Slowly but surely, I started to see myself as a gamer. Persona 5 still, and probably always will be, my favourite game. It gave me one of the most empowering moments of my life. It might sound silly to some people, but I needed that win. For a real-life reference, and this is very personal so feel free to skip, I really had lost all my self worth at that point. Josh was trying anything possible to give it back to me. I used to be this amazing writer in secondary school, and I gave up because I was just never going to be good enough. When I got my dyslexia diagnosis… I was done with writing. Since that moment in Persona 5, I started taking writing seriously again. I plan on finishing my book and getting it published. Because I know that I can do it, that I am worth someone’s time and energy, that I can make a difference to someone’s life. So, yeah… this was a really big thing for me.
7) Time Management
I am a university student. I am also autistic. Both of those things sometimes collide and I turn into a perfectionist with not enough hours in the day. I have uni, I have my blog, I have writing, I have gaming, I have a relationship to maintain, a house to look after, a family that I am apparently meant to speak to, and I’m trying to get a job. I have a lot on my plate. I am prone to making schedules and ‘to-do’ lists that are impossible to maintain. But Persona 5 helped me come to terms with the fact that… there’s going to be things that you do that causes time to pass, meaning you won’t get to do everything. Not every single thing you do will cause this time to pass, but some things will. That doesn’t mean your time is wasted, it just means that it is limited and valuable. I now try my best to plan my days out like I was playing Persona 5. I can do things like going to the shop, ordering shopping and stuff while still being able to complete a lecture. However, I cannot complete a lecture, a seminar, write a blog post and write a chapter of my book all in one day. Those are all big things that cause the time to pass. It’s a weird system but it works for me and I’m sure it’ll work for other people too.
6) Helping yourself is just as important as helping others.
I really did not plan to talk about Persona 5 so much in this post but it’s what I play the most so I guess it could be expected. I remember the dilemma of deciding whether to work on my social stats or confidants, and the other night I was lying in bed when a thought occurred to me- “my social stats must be at an all-time low”. Sure, I do things out of kindness so I guess that one is fine but I barely make time for stats like intelligence, charm and proficiency. Which would hinder my confidant progression. At that moment, things clicked. I remember going to therapy and talking about the Witcher and abilities and he asked me “so what do you do to increase your abilities?” and I was just… shocked. Sometimes, I forget that I am a person. I don’t know if it’s an autism thing or a mental illness thing or maybe just a people thing, but I forget about whatever is going on with me when others need me more. Or, at least I try too. So over the past few days, I’ve been thinking of ways to increase my social stats and abilities. I know this isn’t a normal way to think about life, but right now it’s what I need so I’m going for it. I guess this one kinda goes along with the whole self-worth thing. I’m still working on it.
5) Muscle memory
So I feel like this is an odd one to include, but it fits and its something that I feel has positively impacted my life. I have a bad memory. A real, real bad memory. So knowing where the buttons are on the PS4 controller was a huge accomplishment. It’s impacted my life. Since my brain shifted (in a way) to actually remember this stuff, my typing has become better, which is great because I am a university student and have to write 4000+ word assignments every three months or so. I am hoping that it shifts over to driving too, as I am still yet to pass my test. But it’s like my brain picks up on stuff more, and my muscle memory is a lot stronger than it used to be and I 100% think that it’s because of video games.
So this is another odd one and like most things on this list, it’s a work in progress. But my reflexes are getting so much better because I’m constantly training them. I’ve always had an issue with my reflexes being slow (hence the whole not passing my driving test yet). I was desperate to change that. I played games to try to train it better, taken online tests to try to train it better. But I think it was when I stopped trying so hard that my reflexes actually started to improve. It takes a while, but when your brain isn’t focused on training… that’s when it happens.
3) Practice makes perfect
I put this on very begrudgingly. I’m the type of person who quits something when I’m not immediately good at it. Josh tells me over and over that if I just practised more, I’d be great. I’m sure my mother would be happy to list off all the things I’ve tried and given up on because I wasn’t good at the start. But video games have (slowly) made me realise that this is true. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I have recently started to play League of Legends. I still suck at the game, don’t get me wrong, but the more that I learn about it and the more that I practice… I can see the improvements after each game. Even with Persona 5, once you practice and get used to the personas you use, it’ll turn into muscle memory. I recently got Dancing! For Christmas and I see improvements after every practice (mostly).
TOP TIP: maybe don’t do that thing I mentioned with Persona 5. Muscle memory is great and all but if you want to think and strategize as you need to in boss battles, I suggest switching up your personas so you don’t get too comfortable. Learn from my mistakes. No good using heavy curse on something that blocks curse. SP is too valuable.
2) Dying isn’t the end
I think a huge thing that held me back at first was that I was too scared to die. I just have this thing in my head that says “if you die, it’ll be game over. You’ll lose all your progress and never be able to play this game again”. I am aware that this isn’t… normal. But it was such a huge thing that held me back. I actually wouldn’t game without Josh being there so I could ask him what would happen if it went wrong. Even now, the other day I was doing a side quest in Yakuza 0 and I was stressed about answering it wrong, and I had to ask him what the right answer was (he wouldn’t tell me, he just told me that it would be fine if I got it wrong). I think this applies to real life, because death is obviously the end of life… but if you don’t do things because you’re scared of dying… what’s the point? Because that isn’t a life worth living. Growing up, I was terrified of failing. Even today, just the thought of a post not getting any views or an assignment not doing well… that kind of stuff keeps me up at night. But I don’t hold myself back anymore… at least, not as much as I used to. I post on my blog, I do my assignments, I apply for jobs. If I can do it, I try now. And I don’t think I would be able to do that if it wasn’t for video games.
1) Life is worth living
This one is deeply personal. I don’t know if anyone else has learnt this from video games, and if you have, I’m sorry. I have had… a lot of bad things happen in my life. I grew up suicidal. I was involved in a lot of abuse and I have a lot of trauma. I… I used to read a lot as a kid. That’s the only thing that kept me growing. I think my fascination with history started because I was so surprised at how society could develop and change. I desperately wanted it to change. I grew up with loving parents who tried their best, and I had sisters who were fostered so my life – I thought – cannot possibly be that bad. When I came out as pansexual I was terrified. I saw the look of shame cross the faces of people who were meant to love me. I knew people thought it was just another phase I was going through. The relief that my father must have felt when I started dating a boy clearly outshined the obvious signs of abuse. When I made friends in college and one of them suggested I was autistic, I did so much research. I thought… everything felt right. I brought it up to my mother, who just shrugged it off. Everything that has gone on in my life has just been shrugged off. I was in… a really dark place just before I met Josh. He was the one who pulled me out of it and reminded me that the world was still a good place (despite him saying that I’m crazy for thinking that). I finally had the balance that I needed. I had gone through so much, and it was the breath of fresh air I needed.
I was a creative kid. But I constantly got told that my creativity wouldn’t amount to anything, because the arts never amounted to anything. I was 13 when I started to write my first book. I got told time and time again that I was going to change peoples lives. That the words that I wrote, the worlds that I created… they would have an effect on people. I was 15 when my dad told me that being an author wasn’t a proper job. I stopped writing to focus on my GCSE’s… and then my A levels… and now, university.
Video games are my immediate escape. But they also remind me of one very important thing: they were all wrong. All the people who said that creativity is useless, that writing and art aren’t proper jobs… they were all wrong. Because video games are the result of everything I have ever wanted.
Video games taught me that everything bad that has happened… I can push through. Because everything I got told was a lie. Video gaming is a magnificent medium and I could not be happier writing about them each and every week. It’s not a safety thing for me anymore. Video games are the result of hard work, of creativity, and of passion. That tells me that life is worth living, because we live in a world where video games can be successful and enjoyed by a range of different people.
So, that’s it for this post, Gamers! I know it was very personal at times but I really felt like it was important to share the life lessons that I’ve learnt while playing video games. I’ll see you on Thursday for my next post. Don’t forget to like for me to do a happy dance, and follow for more gaming content!