While many individuals are skeptical about the role and impact of video games on well-being and productivity, millions of people around the world enrich their lives, develop lasting friendships, and learn life lessons from them.
To gain an insider's perspective, I interviewed a fellow Inc.com contributor, Nicolas Cole, who just published his memoir, Confessions of a Teenage Gamer. Cole went from an awkward teenager battling Celiac disease to one of the top-ranked World of Warcraft players in North America.
He now uses the lessons and skills he perfected as a video game enthusiast to transform personal brands, polish social-media presence, and inspire entrepreneurs around the world.
Here are 10 life lessons Millennials like Cole learned from video games:
1. Overcoming Challenges.
The entire point of purchasing a game is to challenge yourself to grow beyond your current set of skills. When you immerse yourself in a game, you view each obstacle as an opportunity for growth.
Cole believes that gamers have an advantage in today's marketplace because they know how to confront obstacles and learn new skills while having fun, so that they "see it as a challenge, but they don't view it as a burden."
2. Goal Setting.
To put it bluntly, Cole says, "People who played video games know how to track their own growth." He highlights the fact that "everything in a video game is measured."
In many games, you have experience points, what level you're at, how much gold you have, and what rank you are. All of this information enables you to track progress and ensure you're in a state of growth.
3. Habits (Daily Quests).
"People that play video games understand how habits compound down the road," Cole says.
In World of Warcraft, for example, there are daily quests, which you can only do once. If you skip a day, you miss out on those rewards, so the best gamers create a structure of small habits or routines they perform each day that build over time.
Cole says these habits create a change in mindset: "You learn that it's a sacrifice for instant gratification in the name of future gratification."
4. Responsibility (Guild).
"If you say that you're going to be online for a raid at 6 p.m. and you're not online and at the raid at 6 p.m., you're letting people down," Cole continues. "It's really no different than sports teams or the after-school club. It teaches you personal and social responsibility."
5. Leadership (Team and Guild).
Cole says mastering your craft provides an opportunity to take on a leadership position, which forces you to grow because "you have to rise to the occasion and realize that other real people are following your instructions." That sense of responsibility expands your capability to influence and direct others to achieve a common goal.
6. Process Versus Reward.
"When you focus on mastering your craft, your growth curve is so much higher. If you focus on the reward, you're driven by the wrong things," Cole says.
He believes many entrepreneurs fail because they're only chasing money and the glorified image of being an entrepreneur in today's culture.
Competitive gaming helps you learn the importance of investing in the process rather than chasing an image.
7. "What's in a Title?"
"In some games you collect titles, but the really good players never care about their titles," Cole says.
He emphasizes that, "After you achieve your goal, you either say 'I'm not going to get attached to this and I'm going to continue focusing on my craft' and your growth curve continues, or you attach yourself to it, think that you've made it, and then you fall."
8. Healthy Competition.
"Whether you have a couple friends over sitting in your basement or you're competing online against the best players in the world, at the end of the day it's a test of you against yourself. You want to be as good as a player as you possibly can," Cole says.
Video games help you realize that if you want something, you need to go all in and earn it.
9. Creating a Persona.
Whereas 10 years ago the people playing online video games were called nerds, today everyone's playing Facebook.
"When you play online games, whether you realize it or not, the way that you write ends up creating an idea of who you are in the brain of the other person," Cole says.
He continues, "We all create personas; some just do it with more purpose than others. You hate them for it, but you're also going to look at their content every single day because they're so good at it that you don't even realize it's an art."
10. Personal Branding.
"Everyone creates a persona, but the really good people can monetize off of it," Cole says
He continues, "Building a personal brand is realizing that we are moving into an era where our online lives speak even more about us than our physical selves. If you have that skill of being able to brand yourself so you know how to create the way someone else perceives you, that is magic in today's society."