Eleven-year-old tells benefits of video games

This is a guest post from my son. I dictate blog posts in the car, while we drive. And a few days ago, I was talking about how video games help kids succeed at work, and he told me he wanted to dictate a post. I said okay. Here’s what he wrote. 

So I was trying to tell mom that RPG is the most educational type of game. And she told me to write a blog post.

1. You learn a lot of patience because you have to grind things. Grinding means spending a long time doing stuff. For instance, beating enemies for a while in order to get money. You can also grind for experience. You have to beat an enemy to level up. The higher the level you are the harder it is to level up, which means the more experience it takes to level up.

2.  You can play with kids in other teams. The reason you can’t do it alone is because on most games, such as Wizard101, you can see everyone with someone else and there’s no option to play single player. So if someone’s having a tough time in the battle, you go into the battle and help them.

3.  You learn how to handle money by selling and buying items, like armor and weapons. You have to know what’s going to be in your budget to use. You buy the most important thing first. And also sometimes buying things might be required for the story line.

4.  You learn to tell who is honest. You can use chat to talk to other players in multiplayer. Sometimes people will try to trick you in chat, like telling you they can sell you something for a bargain with real life money. But most games tell you how only the official game can sell you stuff with real money. So you figure out how to work together with people and you can actually make friends.

5.  You learn to meet goals. There are goals in the game like beating bosses and finding NPCs (game-generated people who talk to you and help you complete quests by selling you stuff.) After you do all that, you can install things like expansion packs and modules and meet more goals. For instance in World of Warcraft one of the most popular expansion packs is the Wrath of the Lich King which adds new challenges including the Lich King boss battle.

6.  You learn to do tons of research.  Sometimes when you don’t know what to do, you should go on Google or YouTube to find out how.  Mainly I just go on YouTube every time and just try to find things that sound like they would work until I get something to come up. I fast-forward the video to find what I want.



21 replies
  1. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I like this! It reminds me of how much I loved video games and actually just anything that was game-like as a kid. Plus I learned from you what an RPG game is and that maybe if I play more video games now, as an adult, maybe I will even get better at budgeting. Thank you for sharing your ideas!

  2. Amanda
    Amanda says:

    Great post! I have a younger brother, he is 23, and I’ve lived with him for the past year and for most of that time he has been absorbed in playing Counter Strike. I have to admit we could only see the obvious downsides, like he didn’t go out much as he’d rather be with his online community on his game, and he seemed addicted (he would frequently play all day and night). It was hard for us as he dosent seem like a typical gamer – hes always got a girlfriend and he dosent live on junk food! However must admit in the rest of his life he just sold his first retail business which hes had since 19 for a modest profit of $14,000 and was really specific about where his money was going and what to invest in next to start his new venture in film. Don’t know how much of that is influenced by his game.

    Also I’m convinced that violent video games have a detrimental effect on people and counter strike is about shooting and fighting. Though honestly cannot see any evidence in my brother that this has affected him negatively, he’s very calm & very kind even under stress. And honesty is very important to him, from others and himself.

    I learn alot from this blog even though I’m not at school, or a parent, that things aren’t always what you think and we are used to making alot of assumptions about learning because we are all living with the consequences of how we were taught. Thank you Penelope &

  3. Daniel Baskin
    Daniel Baskin says:

    #3 is a big one, and probably greatly overlooked by those who aren’t familiar with games.

    Universities have studied and experimented within the realistic and vibrant economies (based on in-game currencies) within online games. Prices between players on commonly sought-after items fluctuate with supply and demand. Programmed NPC merchants also are almost always programmed to over-charge when buying from them, and under-cut you when selling to them–but you often sell to them anyway sometimes even if real life players would buy them for more because you are buying convenience / time by not having to wait around for the right buyer.

    Also, as early as 1999, some players in an online game, Everquest, would spent most of their in-game time are brokers / traders in the area of the game where most of the trading is done between players. (This in-game wall-street was called East Commonlands, or EC, for any old gamers out there). They would keep tabs on price fluctuations and buy when the market was good, then advertise these bought items when prices went up. Also, many would sell your stuff for you for a fee and/or just buy it from you for cheap. What’s interesting is that you had to be someone of trustworthy repute because when players hand items over, there is no way of enforcing them to give it back and be trustworthy.

    I could go on and on.

    Games taught me to touch-type quickly, make quick mathematical / strategical assessments that had consequences, manage–even budget–money based on weighing current needs with future needs (for instance, I’ll need enough money to buy a piece of armor that I can’t wear until I get 5 levels higher), speed-read text, and more. (I would say more but I’m going to bed and this is getting long).

  4. Gala
    Gala says:

    Love this.
    Love your boy!!
    Love our son and your son are friends and get to learn from each other!
    Love this picture of him!

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    Thanks for this post. It’s very well done and I learned a few things from it. The sentence which really sticks with me and consider valuable is “So you figure out how to work together with people and you can actually make friends.” The sentence that made me laugh is “There are goals in the game like beating bosses and finding NPCs (game-generated people who talk to you and help you complete quests by selling you stuff.)” I look forward to future guest posts from yourself and also hopefully your brother.

  6. sheela
    sheela says:

    Thanks for posting! I have to admit I know next to nothing about video games….I am starting homeschooling my 7 year old daughter, like, today….what games would you recommend for that age level- not reading yet- that have increasing levels of difficulty/ complexity, that aren’t pink and girly?

    • Sheela Clary
      Sheela Clary says:

      Sorry!!! That’s so annoying when people get siblings confused…. I had just read your response above where you mention your brother.

    • Penny
      Penny says:

      “I am starting homeschooling my 7 year old daughter, like, today….what games would you recommend for that age level- not reading yet- that have increasing levels of difficulty/ complexity, that aren’t pink and girly?”

      This coming from a game developer’s wife, and future homeschooling mom. :)

      I found this list available online, that lists teaching appropriate apps (and some games): http://www.smartappsforkids.com/top-free-apps-for-parentsteachers.html

      Off the top of my head, there are games that involve simple physics on the iPad and other tablets, like the perpetual Angry Birds and Cut The Rope, that are both cute, and easy to get into. For something more advanced, you might want to look up what’s available as a free to play game. PopCap Games (may require you to install a plugin for your browser to work) has a category for “Free online games” on their website, that are based on ideas like align three matching items (Zuma, Bejeweled, Chuzzle, etc), match colours/symbols (Alchemy), and so on. So lots of brain teasers, where the basic concept is easy to grasp.

      I might set up an account on Zynga.com, and start them up on Farmville, if they know how to read two line instructions. It’s cute, but not a particularly girly game. It teaches about time management (crops grow different times, and expire and wither away, if you don’t harvest them in x amount of hours after they ripen), simple budgeting (it costs money to buy seeds, and you don’t start up with as much), as well as the basic concept of return of investment, or ROI through invested in-game currency and limited water on seeds to get fruit or vegetables, and then spend energy to create value added products for sale at the market stand.

      Because you start with a smaller farm and expand it, you have to keep track of how much space you have and what you can fit into it, and create value added products for ROI and added income. You have little quests you need to complete, that often involve harvesting a certain number of stuff, or feeding a number of animals, or making three apple pies, and so on.

      The game allows for neighbors through the website, that you can visit and help out, or gift things to (and receive resources from). The good thing is, there really isn’t a lot of interaction outside the game, so it’s a fairly safe means of playing with others without attracting too many creeps (I’ve played a year, and only one person tried to “chat me up”. That person was swiftly blocked.)

      Of course, these are just recommendations, but especially that teaching resources list is a good way to get started.

  7. Peggy Sheehy
    Peggy Sheehy says:

    Such am important post on so many levels! I’d like to officially invite you to join The Legacy Student Guild in WoW. Sisters of Elune server–Alliance. I am Maratsade on that server so pat me and I’ll switch over to mr Legacy toon and Guild you. I am GM of my guild (for the educators) called Cognitive Dissonance and we also run G.A.M.E. (Gamers Advancing Meaningful Education) if you are interested. Now that you have stepped into the public space, count on us to support you! Remember, with great power…. Well met!

  8. Carmen
    Carmen says:

    First of all, great picture!

    Second….I learned so much from this.

    With my job I get to hear expert testimony from every field, from medicine to law to business to accounting, you name it. Anyone tops in their field gives opinions in lawsuits.

    ….but I’ve never heard expert testimony about video games.

    This was so helpful. Thank you ;-)

  9. techkim
    techkim says:

    My husband kept failing his typing class because he could not get past 32 words. Thanks to in game chats he is close to 50 LOL. He can type faster then I can on the IPad too.

  10. Joanna
    Joanna says:

    I want to congratulate you on your skills in concise writing and explaining your point. Lots of people think that writing many words is great, but prefer to read short texts and don’t see the hypocrisy of that. Being able to fit a lot of meaning in a few words is what makes great writers!

  11. Tony
    Tony says:

    Nice post. I would also point out a combo between number 2 and 4 is that you learn which people you want on a team and which you don’t. Some players you want to do dungeon crawls with because they are good at their class and don’t cause drama. I don’t know if you were playing WOW when they had the 40 man raids, but having people who didn’t cause drama was really important when you are spending 2 hours + going through Molten Core or Blackwing.

  12. Alison Westermann
    Alison Westermann says:

    I am a gamer, my husband is a gamer, and we are training our son as a gamer. There are SO many reasons that gaming makes us better people and makes the world a better place (a nice Jewish values plug, eh?). I’ve been reading “Reality is Broken,” by Jane McGonigal, and it illuminates the exact reasons why gaming can be so transformative. You pinpointed some of them without even being a grownup, a professional or having done any high-level research!

  13. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    I want to thank you guys for the comments. It was really fun for your son to see that people understood what he’s thinking about video games. And, really, that’s probably one of my favorite parts about blogging as well – to feel understood.

    So, I told him that I thought he might want to respond to more than one comment in this string, and here’s what he said, “Mom, I’m not a professional blogger. I was just helping you out by doing one post. I can’t do everything for you.”


  14. Erienne
    Erienne says:

    Awesome post! Video games totally promote information literacy and it’s nice to get your son’s perspective. I have been doing research about video games and libraries lately. I think you (and likely homeschooling parents) might find Game On! by Beth Gallaway a useful book to link some more educational aspects with popular games. James Paul Gee (a professor in Madison) totally backs what you are saying. Side note, if you haven’t played Sid Meier’s Civilization V, you should try it. It is super fun.

  15. Samantha Gluck
    Samantha Gluck says:

    What an insightful post by such a beautiful boy! My 12 year old would love to read this because he’s always trying to extol the benefits of video games to us. I just started homeschooling and have already seen a huge difference.

    Great post!

  16. james
    james says:

    I also play World of Warcraft, I have 4 level 90’s and the rest are above level 70, this doesn’t mean i’m addicted, but I do play the correct way. I’ve played for about 4 and a half years so it may sound like a long time but when you play World of Warcraft, time fly’s by.. (Time fly’s by when your having FUN) :) I’d give it a 4.5 star raiting out of 5, i’m 12 and I play it about 2 hours a day.

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