Video games did more than improve my reflexes. Really.

I’m a gamer.

And I’ve learned four key things from them.

These lessons mostly come from multiplayer games here – whether tabletop or MMO or even team-based shooters… and they all apply in real life.

1. You have weaknesses. Don’t deny them. Work around them.

The simplest example is with character statistics. Used Charisma as your dump stat? Maybe the high-level negotiations aren’t for you. Dashing bard who has trouble lifting a lute? Maybe head-on combat’s not your thing.

But take a step further – many games have some kind of a weakness mechanic. Perhaps your character is overweight; long dashes away from zombies may not be their thing.

If you deny your actual weaknesses, you both set yourself up for failure and you can’t work to improve them later on down the line.

2. Your support network has weaknesses too – but not the same ones you do.

Your friends, co-workers, family, lovers – whoever is part of your support network – have their own weaknesses and flaws. Often times, they aren’t the same ones you have – and that’s a good thing. You want to have the cleric to turn undead. Big nasty critter? Let your fighter take the lead.

Maybe you’re having a hard time keeping to a schedule, or getting overwhelmed with your tasks. Let the “party member” who is good at time management help. Maybe they aren’t so great at cooking, and you can help there.

3. You are part of a group.

You are part of a network of people. Maybe a small one. Maybe a large one. Hell, probably several, if you stop to think about it.

And perhaps the things you all are fighting aren’t dragons or owlbears.

Even so, they are dangerous, and they are intimidating… but they are dangers we can overcome together… as long as our cleric doesn’t wander off when there’s undead, our computer person is unreachable when the hard drive crashes the night before the report, and so on.

4. You have to ask for help.

There is nothing that has driven this home for me as much as the Smoker in L4D2.  This nasty little special infected will constrict you and drag you off out of sight and kill you dead before your teammates know what’s going on. 

At first, I figured the other players would notice… and I kept getting downed by the stupid critter before anyone realized what was going on.  (I wasn’t that good at first!)  Since then, I’ve learned it’s absolutely vital to alert your teammates – via voice or text chat – to what’s going on so they can help you get free.

The same thing goes in real life – and yeah, I know this is one of those things where everyone knows it, but it’s so damn hard to do it.

One of the nicest things about Pokemon Go right after launch was how damn helpful everyone was.  We’d wander the parks and alert each other where to find the elusive ones, and work together to use our lures.  We’d help out those having trouble and share tips and tricks.

That was a brief, happy glimpse, thanks to gaming, into what we could be like.

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