“Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock-n-roll.”
I love video games. And, while I don’t game nearly as much as I used to, I can’t hide the fact that growing up as a gamer had a big influence on who I am today.
In the past, us gamers have gotten a bad wrap. We’ve been labeled as being lazy, unproductive, violent, and immature.
However, as scientists and research teams have conducted more studies on the effects that playing video games has on individuals, they are discovering more and more that playing video games may actually provide some positive benefits.
And, as the population of gamers increases on a daily basis, and as the original generation of gamers start rising to prominent positions in our society, gaming is becoming more entrenched in our culture than ever before.
For me, personally, I can say that gaming has helped me develop some extremely important skills that have helped me achieve success in starting successful blogs and building profitable online businesses.
Does that sound crazy? Maybe it is…
But below I will discuss five different reasons why I think that being borderline-addicted to video games while growing up was something that attributed to my success…
1. I Learned How to Communicate through Writing by Playing Ultima Online
The ability to write is a great skill to have. However, writing has never really been viewed as a necessary business trait.
For me, though, as a content producer, writing is my most important asset. About 99.99% of what I offer—throughout the websites that I run—is written content. And, so, if I couldn’t write, I would have a completely different business model (if I’d even have a business model at all), and, as such, I probably would not be as successful.
In my opinion, all writing really is, is communicating through the written word. I believe that the better you can communicate through the written word, the better the writer you are.
One of the first ways that I learned to communicate through the written word effectively was by playing a game called Ultima Online.
How Ultima Online Helped Me Become A Better Writer
I started playing Ultima Online—one of the first successful MMOs—when I was just 13 or 14. And, the only way you could communicate with other players on Ultima Online was through their chat-based system. You would type in what you wanted to say and the text would appear above your character’s head.
Ultima Online functioned a lot like a miniature world and society. There were aspects of trade, you had to group up to achieve a specific aim (like hunting, fighting monsters, or attacking other players), you could join guilds, and you could buy real estate or run shops, etc.
Needless to say, there were plenty of opportunities for communication. And, as the game was highly addicting, I spent a ton of time playing it (like, at least four hours a day and even more on the weekends), which resulted in me spending a lot of time communicating with others through writing.
While it is true that instruction from English teachers and professors helped me polish my writing skills, I attribute a large part of my ability to communicate effectively through the written word to my experience playing Ultima Online.
I definitely don’t claim to be a great writer, but I do believe it is the form in which I communicate the best. And, as such, I have to attribute a large part of my ability to communicate through writing to the fact that I spent so much time doing so in Ultima Online.
#2 – Video Games Have Taught Me Work Ethic and Dedication
Talk about a contradictory statement…
One of the last things you might expect to see someone say is the fact that, because that person played a lot of video games growing up, they developed a strong work ethic. Most people think that playing video games is actually the display of the very opposite trait of having a strong work ethic: being lazy.
However, there are many times in video games where, if you aren’t willing to work at improving, you will never finish the game or get good enough at it to enjoy it.
Let me go back to my time spent playing on Ultima Online to further illustrate this point…
Another Important Lesson Again from Ultima Online
One of the most unique aspect of Ultima Online was the fact that you could actually own your own house. Even cooler still, you could place your house wherever there was free space… next to a dungeon, along the shore of an ocean, on an island, or right outside of town.
The problem, though, was that you needed a significant amount of gold to buy a house. There were many different ways to get gold in the game, but the main two were:
- Kill monsters and loot their gold.
- Craft items and sell them.
Killing monsters meant you had to go into dungeons, which was dangerous because other players were real jackwagons who would just wait until you were in a sticky situation, kill you, and take all of your gold.
While I did go into dungeons still—because it was fun—I decided that, in order to make gold to buy a house, I would create a character that was a lumberjack and carpenter.
As a lumberjack and carpenter, I could cut down trees and craft the wood into shields that I could sell for 35 gold a piece.
I came up with the following plan:
- Chop wood until I couldn’t carry anymore (there was a weight limit)
- Craft that wood into shields until I could no longer hold anymore
- Go to town and sell the shields
Over the course of a few weeks, I spent a few hours per day chopping wood, turning them into shields, and selling them. Eventually, I had accumulated over 100,000 gold pieces and had enough to buy a cool house.
As In Ultima Online, So in Life and Business
It’s funny to me looking back at it because that house was merely a digital representation of a house and obviously all of that time I spent working to get it has now been, presumably, wasted, as I no longer have that house.
But the lesson behind it is the same lesson that is necessary to succeed in real life. You must come up with a plan, and you must work at it on a regular basis. The more you work, the closer you get to your goal.
My plan was really simple and it was definitely not the best plan for accumulating gold in the game—in fact, probably far from it—but it worked. And, the same is true in business… just because you don’t have the best business plan or idea, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make that same idea profitable.
In fact, if you look at all of the different ways to legitimately make money, you’ll see how many different businesses and business models exist and how profitable even the simplest of business ideas can become
But, the one common factor seems to be that people who build successful businesses all have, to a degree, a pretty good work ethic. For me, personally, a strong work ethic and dedication to seeing my goal come true were the reason why I was able to buy that house I wanted in Ultima Online, and why, also, I have been able to build a few successful online businesses.
#3 – Competition Can Push Us to Higher Levels
I’ve always been a competitive person, which, I think, was largely the result of growing up playing competitive sports.
However, while growing up, my competitive spirit was definitely enhanced by playing a ton of highly-competitive video games with my friends.
In high school, my friends and I would have heated GoldenEye 007 matches, play 7-game series’ in MVP 2005, and construct 16-person Madden tournaments.
In college, during the rise of online gaming, I played a lot of HALO. I also had a group of friends who would get together and, to pass the time, play 4-player Mario Kart.
These weren’t just instances where if you won you got a nice congratulations, or if you lost you got a pat on the back. No, these were the types of competitions where insults would fly, accusations of cheating were rampant, and a lot of yells of anger, agony, and victory were let loose.
Nobody wanted to lose, me especially.
Competition Can Spur Us to Success
I believe that my competitive nature has helped me succeed in the few online businesses that I have created. As I was growing my first online business, I would often look at other similar websites that were more popular than mine and I would ask myself:
How can I provide a better experience to my users than this website is offering?
From that I would come up with possible solutions that answered that question. The answers to that question helped propel my website forward.
And, eventually, my website did become more popular than some of those other websites.
Ultimately, though, one of my most favorite aspects of playing video games is the competition they provide. And, I believe video games have increased my competitive nature, which, in the end, has helped me with my websites.
#4 – Creativity, Ingenuity, and Growth Hacking
Creativity, ingenuity, and growth hacking are all incredibly helpful traits for entrepreneurs and business owners. And, not surprisingly, these are three aspects you will find in almost every video game ever made, both in their design, and in how they are played.
One of the funny things about video games is that the best tactics and strategies to use in certain games are often times tactics and strategies that the game’s maker never even intended to exist.
For instance, a few of my buddies went on a long and really competitive streak playing the game MVP Baseball 2005. One of my buddies figured out that if you threw a sinker (a type of pitch in baseball) high in the strike zone, it was almost impossible for the hitter to time, and when thrown, it often led to a strike.
In real baseball, pitchers who throw a sinker try to keep the pitch low in the strike zone. The higher a sinker is thrown (in real life) the easier it is to hit.
However, in the game, a high sinker looked like it was coming at you more slowly than it actually was and, as a result, would cause the hitter to swing way too late.
The hack was so powerful, that soon we were all making sure we had pitchers who could throw sinkers, because it was too strong of a pitch not to throw.
This is unique because had my buddy never thought outside of the box, he would have never discovered this incredibly powerful pitch. The same is true in business…
Think Outside of the Box for Success
Sometimes in business we are simply using the tactics that are already known, when in reality they may not be the best option. In a lot of instances, there is some tactic out there that nobody has discovered or implemented, that if used properly, will propel you to greater results.
I will admit that I have yet to implore some ground-breaking strategies on my websites. At least not on a grand scale. However, I do believe that I have used a few small unique tactics in design and promotion to help me achieve better results.
And, I am constantly coming up with new ideas and testing them out. A lot of the times these new ideas flop, but every once in awhile one pans out that produces better results. And, because I found this one new tactic, all of the other failures were all worth it.
The bottom line, though, is that video games have taught me to think differently and to look for opportunities that aren’t at first noticeable. And, that kind of thinking is always good when you are starting or running a business, regardless of the industry you are in.
#5 – Getting Your Life (In-Game) Ruined and Learning from It
In my opinion, one of the most important traits of being successful is being persistent. Persistence allows us to overcome obstacles that get in our way and prevents us from quitting at the first sign of difficulty.
From my experience playing video games, persistence is a necessary attribute if you want to become good at any particular game. Most video games are at least somewhat challenging and therefore cannot be beat on the first go-through. And for online competitive games, rarely can a person pick up a brand new game and instantly be the best player.
It takes time, practice, and overcoming a lot of failure to become successful at business as well as it does to master any specific video game.
Going back to Ultima Online, that game was perhaps the most frustrating game ever made. In the game you had a couple of options of where you could hang out…
You could hang out in a town where you would have the protection of the town guards.
Or you could adventure outside of the towns, where there were no rules and no protection from enemies. This means that if you walked out of a town, anyone could kill you if you weren’t skilled enough to fight them off, or quick enough to spot danger and get away.
While this added a real sense of excitement to the game, there were instances where all of your hard work could be lost in an instant to another player who simply wanted to kill you and take your stuff.
Sometimes, hours of gameplay (in the form of weapons, gold, and other valuable items) could be lost in one moment. It was, as I said before, incredibly frustrating.
But, that’s the same in life and in business. Not everything will always go your way. Sometimes, you find out that everything you’ve been working on is wrong. Or, some devastating setback hits you and your business and you are forced to sit down and re-think your strategy.
In those moments you have two options…
- Option #1 – You can quit.
- Option #2 – You can use that devastating moment as an opportunity to develop a better plan.
After getting attacked hundreds of times by people who wanted to kill me and take myself in Ultima Online, I could have either quit playing the game, stopped going outside of town, or figured out a better way to prevent attacks when I did travel outside of town.
Quitting the game wasn’t an option because I was, quite simply, addicted. Not going outside of town was also not an option, as the game was the most enjoyable when you were adventuring outside of town.
So, my only option was to be better prepared and to have a better plan when I went outside of town. This better plan consisted of having a spell ready that would help me instantly travel to another location if I sensed danger, always riding on a horse (which was faster and could help me get away more easily), never taking anything outside of town that I absolutely couldn’t stand losing, and just being more alert of my surroundings in general.
Defeat is Temporary and is Merely A Stepping Stone Towards Something Greater
In my opinion, the best business people in the world do something similar… When things don’t go their way, instead of screaming and yelling, pointing fingers, and giving up, they look within themselves, figure out where they went wrong, and set out to develop a better plan for the next go-around.
I can really attest to this point because I have been on both sides of the fence, both as the quitter, and as the persistent individual who would regroup, re-plan, and get back at it when things went wrong…
With my first profitable website, instead of turning back from these setbacks, I would seek ways to improve things that weren’t working. If I wanted to change something, but didn’t have the technical know-how on how to change it, I would find information that taught how to do it, and I would eventually learn how to do it myself.
Ultimately, I was a lot more persistent than I had been in the past. In fact, it was the most persistent I had ever been in my life (in regards to a real-life endeavor, rather than in a video game) up until that point on any one thing. And, not coincidentally enough, it was my first major real-life success.
I do think video games helped develop within me a persistent nature, but I think it took some time to realize that the same persistence that works in video games, is also the same persistence that works in real life and in business.
Are You A Gamer? Are there Any Aspects of Playing Video Games That Have Helped You?
Video games are and were a huge part of my life and they have greatly influenced who I currently am. Some of the skills and lessons I have learned from playing video games have helped me succeed with some of the online businesses I have built.
In fact, I often tell people that business for me, is kind of like a game. And, I believe that the same basic principles that allow one person to master a video game are the same basic principles that allow another to become successful.
No, not everything that one picks up from video games are necessarily good traits to have, but, in my opinion, I wouldn’t be as successful if I didn’t grow up as a gamer.
How about you? Are you a gamer? Did you learn any valuable lessons in life as a gamer?
Let me know in the comments!
This post is a part of my goal to publish 50 different posts in 100 days. This is post #3 in the series. I’m using The Freedom Journal to track my goal and help me stay focused. To read more about my goal and how I plan to achieve it, click here.