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Games as Self-Development


Disciplines > Game Design > Games as Self-Development

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Although they are criticized for being anti-social, many games help players develop skills that are useful in real life. Hence:

  • Puzzle games help develop cognitive and logic skills.
  • Video manipulation games help develop hand-eye coordination.
  • Multi-user games help develop social skills.
  • Adventure games help develop decision-making, risk assessment, courage and more.
  • Physical movement games help get you fit and healthy.
  • Simulation games teach you about the world.

As with any activity, the secret is balance. If you only play games then other parts of your life will suffer. If you play a game for ten minutes a day, then you will unlikely get much development benefit.


A person develops their mental abilities by playing chess and other games of pure skill.

A multi-user role-play game is used to help a normally-shy person become more comfortable conversing with others online before meeting people in real life.


The classic mental model of the game player is a grubby teenager hunched for endless hours over a console or computer screen and certainly this does happen, though people play games in all kinds of situations, and not just with computers.

The principle of personal development is to take actions that will help you develop skills, knowledge, attitudes and so on that will assist you in achieving your life goals. In a typical situation this includes going on training courses, being coached, taking exercise, eating well and so on. It is a deliberate set of activities that are planned and executed with care.

We also develop our personalities through everyday actions and interactions with others. Likewise, many everyday games provide accidental development in the way they provide the ability to practice in safe environments. The fact that it may well be fun is simply a bonus. The young of many species practice life skills through play.

A key part of development is feedback and repetition. Try, fail, re-think, try again, and so on. Games are good environments for doing this. Not only can they provide feedback and the scope to have another go (which life does not always offer), they also do this in a safe environment where failure is permitted and nobody gets harmed.

Games can be deliberately designed for the personal development and learning. They can provide challenging encounters that require logical analysis, creative thought and social skills. Focused feedback and opportunity for reflection can be easily included. Many companies use games in 'away days' and other non-work situations. You can also build game principles into daily work.

See also

Learning Theory


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