Have you learned a real-world skill from a game?

Kerbal Space Program Kerbals in space
(Image credit: Private Division)

Did Euro Truck Simulator 2 improve your reverse trailer-parking? Can you build a PC thanks to PC Building Simulator, rattle off the NATO phonetic alphabet and read maps at light-speed thanks to Arma, or understand orbital mechanics thanks to Kerbal Space Program? Maybe you learned about actual programming from a Zachtronics game, in which case you're better at them than me.

Have you learned a real-world skill from a game?

Here are our answers, plus some from our forum.

Robin Valentine, Print Editor: Crusader Kings has genuinely taught me a lot about medieval politics, particularly succession laws. You never forget the first time your kingdom goes from running like clockwork to split in three and embroiled in chaos just because you didn't know what 'gavelkind' is. It's a very direct lesson in why there were so many succession crises in the period. And as you learn strategies to avoid it happening again, you realise they're the same strategies real rulers used—such as Christian kings sending troublesome sons off to the church, or Vikings constantly conquering to grab up enough land for inheritance. The series isn't perfectly accurate, but it includes enough real info to teach you about medieval religions, cultures, noble families, military forces, and more.

Phil Savage, Editor-in-Chief: Thanks to the Yakuza series, I now understand the rules of Mahjong. This, as yet, has not proved at all useful in my day-to-day life. But I am pretty good at Mahjong Handle, a Wordle-a-like about guessing a Mahjong hand.

Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: I can't handle games with hands so Mahjong was out, but the Yakuza games taught me how different darts games are actually scored. It's not exactly a miraculous real-world skill, but I did put it to use recently by coaching an acquaintance at a bar through the right targets to shoot for in a game of cricket darts. Wasn't my fault he was way too drunk to execute the win though. The strategic advice was totally solid.

(Image credit: SCS Software)

Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: I've learned a lot of theory I will absolutely never make practical use of from games. Sure, I know all about reverse-parking trucks thanks to Euro Truck Simulator 2, but I don't drive a car. I'm as likely to make use of that knowledge as I am the things I learned about BDSM from playing Ladykiller in a Bind. 

The one undeniably useful skill I've picked up from PC gaming is just knowing my way around using a computer. Having to futz about to get games running, to get mods working, to fix things when they break? That's taught me an incredibly useful life skill and I owe it all to good ol' PC gaming. 

From our forum

ToxicOffender: The Sims taught me everything about social interaction with other people and thanks to Hitman I also know how to get rid of them unnoticed.

Pifanjr: I've learned most of my English from video games. I started playing very young, so my brother had to translate for me a lot. He's always been fascinated by language, so he was a great teacher and video games were a great motivator to learn.

Car Mechanic Simulator 2018

(Image credit: Red Dot Games)

ZedClampet: I've learned a ton about cars by playing Car Mechanic Simulator games. I can now open the hood and tell you what all the parts are and what they do. I can also recognize the various types of farm equipment and know what they do from playing Farming Simulator games.

DXCHASE: Having long gaming sessions into the night when I was kid has helped me develop the ability to work overnight with ease and not feel tired at 4,5 or 6 in the morning.

WoodenSaucer: I learned how to secure a field and defuse bombs from playing Minesweeper. I also learned how to negotiate peace treaties between kings and queens of various nations and implement prisoner exchanges, by playing solitaire.

But come to think of it, I guess Solitaire is really kind of racist. You take a deck that is full of diversity and work as hard as you can to segregate the various suits/races back to where they supposedly belong.

(Image credit: Killhouse Games)

Johnway: Doorkickers. The one game that made me actually go on the web and learn CQB tactics by swat teams. Namely breaching and entering and how to clear rooms etc. Ok, it was more a quick 30-1hr read on some website, but it was insightful and certainly something I tried to incorporate into the game itself and some other games. Didn't stop my team becoming swiss cheese in some missions though.

McStabStab: Back in 1999 when Counter-Strike released in its earliest form as a mod for Half-Life I was still not even in High School. My typing skills increased leaps and bounds because before voice communication was in games the only way to talk trash was to type it. I credit my quick typing ability to C:S.

Zloth: I learned a lot about the aviation in World War 2 from Air Warrior. Terms like split-S, immelmann, barrel roll.... We even had a convention in Washington D.C. to see the aircraft in museums. I don't know if you would call that a skill or just knowledge, but I'm glad of it.

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Sarafan: This probably won't be the answer that was precisely intended by the Author of the question, but I actually learned from games how scripts in programming work. Many years ago I was a creator of maps for the first Starcraft and Operation Flashpoint (ARMA: Cold War Assault).

When I started my journey with modding, I had exactly no knowledge how the games work. I was dreaming about creating my own content, so started tackling with the editor for Starcraft 1. Step by step and thanks to the work of other modders I started to reverse engineer existing maps. This gave me an understanding that to make some action you need to assign them conditions and voila! The hardest thing to understand in making new maps became a piece of cake!

With Operation Flashpoint it was even more interesting. There's no way you can open existing developer made campaign maps without some serious tackling and I desperately needed to figure out scripts commands used in some of them. What did I do? I opened the campaign file in Notepad. Among some standard gibberish that you get when you open such files this way, there were beautiful fragments of standard text and among other this were the scripts that I was looking for. Now I just needed to scroll to the desired mission and find the script I was looking for or just automatically search the file, when I had some suspicions about the correct words that were used in it.

All in all this experience gave me a lot of knowledge about gaming editors. Although I never made a step forward and didn't start to play with something more powerful (like Creation Kit for Bethesda games for example), I still have some plans to make use of the things I learnt this way.

Eivor clasping the shoulder of a one armed man while overlooking a campaign map in the middle of a mead hall.

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Frindis: I'm good at problem-solving and making stories and I believe some of that comes from countless hours solving puzzles in point & click games and being able to really delve into the lore of different games.

I have good eye-hand coordination with solid reflexes from countless hours in FPS games. It has definitely helped me in different sports, not to mention having better situational awareness overall.

I have no problem with public speaking. I'll produce a text and tell it to whomever without any problems, and bits of that trait I believe come from times in TeamSpeak and similar channels with different roles in MMO games, obviously with the motivational push from a friend or two.

Playing games has also made me more interested in audio/video editing, even if I have not gone as far as making any machinima video or similar. I am thinking of streaming though, so in that sense, gaming has opened a new way/idea for me to both play and perhaps also earn a living from doing it in the long term.

A more lust for learning I would most definitely say gaming has thought me. Right now I am playing Assasin Creed Valhalla (day 1) and I am looking forward to jumping on the educational section of the game and learning more from my own heritage as the game is set in Norway.

The great joy of playing with my nephews is one of the biggest ones and being able to educate them on how to play from the early age of maybe 6-7 years old and also learning from them while following their road to adulthood.

There is so much more I could have added. Seriously, I could probably write a book about just what gaming has done to my upbringing and how it still affects me deeply. The learning aspect and with it its skills are always evolving in that sense.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.