Posted by Alan Jones
Alan Jones

Gaming can often get a bit of bad press. It can be criticized for being a secluded past time, and it is frequently suggested that it is a hobby which produces no applicable life skills. Of course, these comments are only spouted by those who know nothing about gaming. Modern gaming is about bringing people together, either through multiplayer or just talking about a game's mysteries and Easter Eggs.

Equally, gaming develops some key skills such as hand-eye co-ordination and problem solving. GameOrNought would like to take some time to demonstrate how video games can help, and have helped, in gaining important life experience. Today's GAINING EXP puts the spotlight on parenthood.

Yeah. I should have listened.
Yeah. I should have listened.


Image source -
Image source -

You excitedly start up the new game you just ripped ravenously out of its frustratingly hard-to-open packaging. You select "New Game" from the menu. What will you experience? A stunning vista? An action-soaked beginning? No. It's a tutorial. Some potentially ill-fated NPC guides you through the basic controls and game-play loop. You practice your skills on some poor hapless creature while barely paying any attention. Sure enough, later on, you will wish you had listened and read the tutorial properly.

When you are expecting a little one, after they are born, and for the rest of their lifetime, you will be bombarded with people instructing you on how to do the simplest things with your precious bundle. Examples: "This is how you put their vest on", "don't throw the baby", "don't let the baby play with tools", "don't drop the baby", etc. You believe you know it all, switch off, and nod contentedly in the bliss of your knowledge. Shortly after everyone leaves, your baby will launch into an all-senses attack which could be easily averted if just you had listened.

In-game example: Every hacking mini-game ever.


You know that with a few more experience points, upgrade tokens, or currency you will be powerful enough to move on to the next area or battle. One problem; you are surrounded by enemies which hand out pitiful amounts of whatever you need. There is only one thing for it!

Hours and hours of game-play where the only excitement created is the possibility of some gelatinous blob or goblin (it's always blobs or goblins) dealing some damage to your character. Finally, you crawl over the requirement line and celebrate like a gold medal-winning Olympic athlete. Partners and family stare at your disheveled, wide-eyed face with suspicion and pity.

Babies are cute. This is a fact. They are also, for all intents and purposes, incapable of performing any worthwhile task for themselves. As you can imagine, this can be immensely frustrating for the child who just wants to sit up/crawl/walk/talk/eat for themselves. This frustration leads to them expressing their dark side through tears and screaming.

You waggle every toy you have, and sing every song you know, until one grabs their attention and ceases their crying. Something that works! You will now do that thing, whatever it may be, for the next series of hours until your baby goes to sleep. If you dare to change your entertainment regime, we return to the tears. So you carry on mindlessly, trying not to go insane. Eventually, baby falls to sleep.

You celebrate like a gold-medal winning Olympic athlete. Partners and family stare at your disheveled, wide-eyed face with suspicion and pity.

In-game example: Every Final Fantasy game or JRPG ever. (Seriously game publishers/producers, we are over grinding. Please find a better game play loop)

The Boss Fight

Why won't you sleep?
Why won't you sleep?

Everything you have done over the past days has lead to this moment. Just you and the final boss left. Toe-to-toe with your arch-nemesis, staring into the whites of their eyes. First to blink loses. You exchange blows. A real back and forth affair. You dwindle their health bar down to nothing. Fist-pumping into the air, you realise that was the first of their health bars.

At some point in the next 30 minutes you come close to quitting. "This can't be done," you think. "It's not possible," you convince yourself. At the precipice of defeat, you chance a risky attack. It hits. For critical damage. The battle changes. You have the upper hand, and they are now reeling away in fear. With one almighty swing, you turn this digital demon into nothing more than shiny pixels on the ground. Game finished.

They say there is nothing so scary as the dark, and babies know this. Similarly, nobody likes to miss out on something fun, and babies know this. These two reasons combined mean that they will not willingly drift off to sleep. You know they are tired. Red eyes and yawns tell you all you need to know. But they will not be convinced that sleep is the way to go.

You start off tentatively with some soft lullabies; it doesn't work. Some rocking might do the trick. Their eyes close, and you place them into their cot. You fool! This was only the first stage. Screaming ensues, and you wish in your head and out loud that they would just sleep. As a last resort you wheel out the cot mobile and ceiling light show. Your little bundle acquiesces and, for now, they are a peaceful wonder.

In-game example: Every Dark Souls boss ever.

Can you relate to this?

What has gaming helped you do in real life? Let me know in the comments section below, and don't forget to follow the page and share with your friends.

Hop over to GameOrNought's dedicated blog for more of my thoughts, musings, and reviews.