While I’m far from the first person to present the idea that video games can lead to benefits in real life, I wanted to share some important life lessons I’ve learned from certain aspects in fighting games. With that, I’ve listed five things that can be learned through playing fighting games and thinking about the theory behind them. Who knows? You might even be able to come out of this article as a better person.
1. Stay calm and remain in control while under pressure.
The first, and probably most important, thing one that comes to mind is being able to keep calm under pressure, which I learned from playing fighting games in a competitive environment. Honestly, this just seems to make sense. From playing in arcades where no one knows your name to competing in tournaments, you mostly have no one rooting for you to win unless you arrived in a group. Not only that, but you know that there are a lot of people watching your match and judging each move you make. While I consider myself a relatively calm person to begin with, the pressure of playing in tournaments has caused me to make some of the worst mistakes I’ve ever made in some matches. Once you are able to be at ease in this kind of environment, staying calm under pressure is simple. It’s just a matter of finding a comfortable spot and bracing yourself.
This is something that everyone needs to learn. It’s a skill that everyone at some point in their life would be able to take advantage of, whether it’s picked up through competitive gaming or another method. Everyone feels stress and pressure. Being able to work through it and not let it affect you as much is an incredibly good skill to have.
2. Practice really does make perfect.
Although it may be a phrase that you’ve heard endlessly, it doesn’t make it any less true. Practice really does make perfect. Putting time into mastering any activity will eventually yield results; it’s just a matter of dedication. For example, I spent a whole weekend doing nothing but practicing a series of button inputs for a combo in Super Street Fighter IV a few years ago. I had to hit a sequence of five buttons in the span of 2/60ths of a second in order for it to work. While I used to think it was near impossible, I stuck with it and practiced the finger motions over and over until it became second nature.
The great thing is that it applies to everything. Whether you’re working on something with your hands, learning a skill or even doing something as banal as studying for finals (like I am), it applies. For me, it was the fact that I was able to see results in a video game that made me realize that I’ll see results in my other endeavors if I work at them.
3.Look at the bigger picture, and think critically.
This is one that might not be as obvious as some of the other entries on this list. Typically, in fighting games, you have one or two characters (we talked about mains in last week’s entry to the RipTen Dojo series) that you stick with. You mostly play as those characters, and try to learn as much about them as possible. A lot of what some players miss is that you shouldn’t just be looking at your own character, but every character. You should make it your goal to understand every fighter in the game, at least on a very basic level. This is incredibly important, because then you can understand the dangers and setups that other players are looking to perform against you. Having knowledge of that means you have a better chance of beating them.
It’s hard to think of where something like this wouldn’t apply. Being able to look at every factor leading into a confrontation or project instead of solely the things that sit right in front of you is an amazing skill. Being able to “think outside of the box” has long been an overused buzzword, but people who can think beyond of the obvious means have always been valued for their creativity and ability to think critically.
4. Learn how to manage resources.
Admittedly, learning how to manage my real life resources by playing a fighting game was something I never expected to happen. In what seems to be every modern fighting game, there are meters that show the availability of certain moves. Whether it’s a powered up version of a special move, a super combo or any other similar concept, it’s important to note that they are not always available, and to know when they are most effective. Let’s take the Street Fighter IV series, for example. With two full blocks of the super combo meter, you can either perform two EX moves (powered up versions of special moves with different properties), or you can perform a special move, then cancel it with that is called a FADC, short for Focus Attack Dash Cancel. More often than not, the idea behind this is to perform a move, cancel it, then dash backwards in order to create some space from an enemy.
Being able to tell when resources should be saved or used is an important thing to learn. This easily applies to aspects such as money and time, two resources that everyone seems to be short of nowadays. To be perfectly honest, it’s much better being able to learn this sort of thing through a game than through a real-life experience.
5. It’s OK to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.
This is a big one. As I mentioned in an earlier article on losing like a winner, you should try not to get too upset over a loss. In fact, only think of it as a loss if you get nothing out of it. Only if you learn nothing from your mistakes are they truly mistakes. There are always lessons to be learned, whether it’s something simple in a fighting game like learning how to approach a character or finally realizing that you need to focus on your studies more. Just because something might have a bad outcome doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire experience was a waste. Reflect on your mistakes, and turn them into lessons. I know I’ve done my fair share of learning from my own errors over the years.
With that, I hope that I’ve at least partially opened up the idea of learning something from the fighting game genre that you can apply in real life. After all, something this fun has to have some real benefits! Keep fighting, readers.