Kevin Spacey played Frank Underwood on the Netflix series House of Cards. In episode one or two, we see him playing Call of Duty. He’s a US Senator with aspirations to become even higher up in office (maybe the President?) and he loves to play first person shooter games to blow off steam. Though I don’t need anyone’s approval or cool factor to validate my interest in games, I love that this facet of the character exists. It is a kind of permission slip for people to realize that you can be a serious business person and still enjoy video games. I want to talk about why I love video games, and why some others do, as well.
Video Games Simplify The World
Think about all the various ways that you can succeed and fail in business. Work is amazingly complex. Are your employees happy? Are your customers happy? Supplies can run out. There are countless ways that things can go wrong. Things can start going right and you won’t understand why, either.
Video games, by their design, simplify the world that they represent, allowing you to focus on understanding core concepts. Even something as simple as Tetris shows you that if you don’t have a basic organizing system, you’ll lose quickly. It shows you that perfection isn’t useful. It shows you how to dig out of a mistake without throwing everything away.
Video Games Relieve Stress (While Causing New Stress)
I play games like Destiny and Rainbow 6 Siege, which are both considered in the “shooter” genre. You’d think this means they’re stressful, and they can be. But when you’re frustrated about some random work thing, or some challenge that the real world brings you, it can be a lot of fun to make new friends, hunt them down, and shoot their little pixelated selves.
Video Games Warm Us Up To Failure
In most all video games, the concept of failing and starting again exists. You don’t find Princess Peach? No big deal. She’s in another castle. Go get her, Mario.
Failure is a great way to learn. It’s not always fun. It’s not always easy. Sometimes, it’s horrible. But if we stop being so afraid of messing up, and just take each failure as a lesson, everything gets better faster.
Video Games Encourage Non-Linear Thinking
A movie or book goes in one direction. You start somewhere. You finish somewhere. Video games allow you to pick up at multiple points. They encourage you to take different approaches. Many games are valued based on their “replayability” which is the opposite of how we approach many of the books and movies we consume. (Okay, some of us watch certain movies dozens of times *cough* Fight Club *cough*).
Video Games Are (Or At Least Can Be) Social
My favorite games all come with communities. If you saw the start of the Pokemon Go craze, it was pretty intense. I met dozens of people in my own town that I’d never seen before (and now haven’t seen, since lots of people quit playing). Online it’s another whole level of crazy. Communities like the Destiny Subreddit show you just how thriving the experience can be. Plus you can find people, ask them questions, match make to play team games, and more.
It’s Less of a Weird Thing to Play Games These Days
More and more gamers are showing up in the 30s, 40s, and 50s age brackets, and female gamers outnumber male gamers. With the rise of mobile/casual games, the industry is seeing a massive influx of money and interest, which only benefits those of us who play the more “hardcore” games. What’s great, though, is that everyone can find what they want. You don’t have to shoot and murder things to play games. You don’t have to play just one type of game. Everything exists.
And speaking of “everything,” companies like Nintendo who just hit it big with the mobile Pokemon Go game are going to thrive when offering “off-console” games like the recently announced iPhone game, Mario Run.
Go out. Play. Have fun!
And if you still want to hide your nerdiness, get some nifty nerd socks! Who’ll know?