Despite popular media that suggests otherwise, video games can significantly improve people’s lives.
Among many other benefits (some of which I’ve seen myself), the experience of conquering increasingly difficult challenges and steadily getting better can lead video gamers to approach “real life” the same way.
When you see yourself succeed in a video game, you subconsciously feel more equipped to navigate and conquer obstacles in the world outside it. You may see life more like a game, a series of challenges and rewards that improve your skills until you reach your desired outcome.
In a video game, the stakes are low. If we die, we restart the game. We almost always have an opportunity to try again until we win. At our jobs, the risks may feel higher. We may not always face every challenge and defeat it. The work we do can certainly get harder, but we will inevitably fail at times, and we won’t always have an opportunity to try again.
We need those low-stakes challenges and rewards outside of work. While it may be just a game or a hobby, we grow through the experience. Our brain transposes it to other areas of our life.
I’m a strong believer that work is part of life. That work/life balance is bullshit. But interwoven in the working and sleeping and eating and socializing are the low-stakes pursuits: Beating the next level in a video game. Skateboarding and learning newer, harder tricks. Going a few miles farther on my bike than I did the day before.
Personal pursuits, hobbies and side projects are essential to my success at work. Maybe they rewire my brain to approach a challenge as another opportunity for reward, rather than with fear. To see a roadblock as an opportunity to learn and get better. To see success in one arena as proof I can conquer another.