Console Games Are Educational…

…or at least, most of them are.

If you know me as the person I am today, you may also know that I started playing the computer from quite a young age…and when I say “playing”, I mean “playing hard”. That might be the reason why my spectacles are fitted with 700-over degree lenses.

The common perception is that games are detrimental to the growth of a person, but that perception is almost like saying that medieval swords are crude, heavy, clumsy, and alike. Computer games aren’t as bad as the media or parents may make them to be, so long as it is done in moderation, much like how a good cook would moderate the ingredients of his speciality to produce something that tastes great.

It’s always worth the time and effort to read all the text in a game. At the very least, it’ll tell you that the game is rubbish and you might be better off without it, but at the very most, these lines of text can teach you something that you never knew, even if it may be a bit inaccurate. The only reason I know why blue is the only colour in white light that does not fade easily is because I played Pokemon Emerald and visited the Oceanic Museum in Slateport City. If I didn’t play Pokemon Emerald, I’ll probably be ignorant about this until much, much later, or never.

There are also other games that allude to other things or people. Jets’n’Guns, for example, has a bomber’s worth of references to people or companies. This is saying a lot considering that it is a forty-two level side-scrolling shooter. While the game itself is extremely fun, in my opinion, and can compel you to go back and play all the levels more than once, I feel that spotting the references is also quite a fun thing in itself.

Then there are those Tycoon games. In one way or another, most, if not all, of them educate the player in money management. If you’ve ever played the Leafy Lake scenario in RollerCoaster Tycoon, the bank loan provided on that map can tempt you into building two roller coasters, but you might regret it later when your loans run out. To a much greater extent, SimCity 4 really provides a challenge in terms of balancing your city’s coffers, even at the easiest difficulty level. You can’t just start a city and build it without worrying about maintenance. I’ve played it many times, and only recently did I finally learn how to make a profit on the lowest difficulty level. It also taught me that managing a city, let alone a country, is quite a difficult thing to do indeed. SimCity is just a game, and I already find myself challenged from running a city. It’s definitely more complicated when it comes to running a country in real life. This is one reason why I try my best not to complain about the Singapore government. They are doing the best they can to make the country a peaceful place, and I’m grateful for that.

Even at the lowest level, playing a game for a couple of minutes can help alleviate stress. A couple of weeks back, I played a game called XOP Black, which is a free bullet hell scrolling shooter, at the highest difficulty level, and it was a blast. I failed to finish the game, but I was extremely satisfied with how far I went into the game before I lost.

Ever heard of The Battle for Wesnoth? It’s a free turn-based strategy game played on a hex map. It probably cannot compare to games such as Guitar Hero 3 or Halo, but it is quite fun to play, although the game’s learning curve is a little steep. The game’s music alone is worth giving the game itself a try. Furthermore, as the entire game is released under the GNU General Public License, you can distribute or extract anything from the game as you wish, so long as you give credit and attach a copy of the license to whatever you distribute.

On the flip side, there are games which seem to be quite meaningless. If you watch episodes of The Angry Video Game Nerd, you might have seen him playing some pornography games on an Atari console. Those are games that you should steer clear away from, unless you have a really good excuse to play them. I saw Custer’s Revenge, and it was garbage. Even if the real Custer was a bit impulsive, he is not as bad as that game makes him out to be.

My take, in short, is this: go ahead and play games as you see fit. Just make sure you keep an eye on your time, and use your sense of judgement.

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