Connecting the Dots – Video Games and Learning Pt 1

video games and learning connecting the dots life leadeership

This post is an excerpt from the book Mastering The Game: What Video Games Can Teach Us About Success In Life

When I asked best-selling author Simon Sinek what he had learned from video games, he offered an interesting reply: “It’s difficult to know where our lessons come from.” Part of what I believe makes understanding where learning comes from it so difficult is that it is often a combination of various sources that refine our understanding over time.

We observe, make presumptions, and look for additional information to confirm or deny our hypothesis.

Our understanding of the world around us is made easier, if not simpler, through principles.  Along these lines, I wish to propose a case that principles can be taught or reinforced in video games, and then can instruct and teach real life success.

An idea I have seen hinted at, but not yet fully realized is the potential for transferrable skills, specifically skills video games develop, that can be applied to work, school, or everyday situations.

Let us consider for a moment a few core concepts.

Concept One: Principles Transcend The Media In Which They Appear

One definition of principle given by Merriam-Webster is interesting in setting the stage for the point I wish to make:

“the laws or facts of nature underlying the working of an artificial device.”

In this definition, the fact that a device is artificial does not exempt it from being subject to the laws or facts of nature. In the same way, many video games reflect underlying principles of reality.

If the game follows these principles, and the game player can succeed in the video game subject to these principles, might it not be possible that these same actions or activities can lead to success in the workplace, school, or life itself?

What if success in one realm could serve as a pattern for success in another? quote video games work life leadership

Concept Two: At The Heart Of Every Game Is A Problem-Solving Simulator

Video games are full of problems.

The world needs saving. The villain needs to be stopped. This item must be collected, or that task must be completed. A neighbor in the village needs you to take the empty bottle to the farmer to fill it full of milk, who then asks you to milk the cow yourself.

Sounds like work.

Did I mention that evil orcs are trying to kill you while you are milking the cow?

Problem solving at its finest. The time most players of The Legend of Zelda series have spent either cutting down grass or fishing is down right mind numbing.

Ironically, many who enjoy video games will spend the day at work or school, challenged by problem solving scenarios, difficult choices, or mindless and repetitious tasks, only to come home looking forward to… solving problems, making difficult choices, and completing repetitious tasks in a video game.


Because it is fun to win and be successful, and many video games make this much easier than most places of work. Games have the advantages of being designed to keep the player engaged.

Can you imagine your boss or employer approaching you with a job description designed to keep you engaged, excited, and challenged at work?

Any organization that could do this successfully would have to force their employees to go home every day and mandate they take the weekends off.

The obvious difference here is that job roles are designed with a different purpose. Jobs exist to solve a bigger problem for the employer and the business, not primarily to benefit the employee.

In fact, “that’s why you get paid” might be the retort of the calloused, traditional business owner.  This concept reveals the interesting tension between the “entitlement” that many Millennials display in the workforce and the actual expectations of the job.

End of Part 1.

This post is an excerpt from the book Mastering The Game: What Video Games Can Teach Us About Success In Life

  • I really like the part of this article that talks about how the workplace needs to benefit the individual. It seems like common sense, but ironically, so many employers get it wrong.

    Also, I’ve been studying habit forming behavior lately. Video games on SO MANY habit forming hooks into the video game (which makes them so addictive). I believe they are great models for how we can refine the workplace to make it more engaging.

    • Jon

      I think the way you think Samuel!

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