Five Ways That Video Games Teach Planning Skills

Many of the most popular video games, such as Angry Birds, StarCraft, and Final Fantasy are loaded with opportunities to practice and develop the skill of Planning. Interestingly, many gamers report that their favorite games are those in which there are high levels of challenge that require strategy and learning from experience. These are core components of the skill of Planning and provide an opportunity to teach strategic thinking skills that can lead to success in later life.

Here are some means by which video games practice Planning skills:

  • Setting goals. Many open-ended sandbox games such as Minecraft require that gamers figure out what they want to do in the game. Those who enjoy the game best are those who are able to set goals and determine what they want to do. This is also seen in games such as Monster Hunter, where players can hunt for items and use them to build better equipment.
  • Estimating one’s own skills. To be successful in many Role Playing Games, players must be able to recognize what their level of skill is and carefully plan their gameplay based on whether they have enough strength or health to overcome the obstacles they are likely to encounter. If not, they must upgrade their character by defeating weaker enemies until they gain enough “experience points” to “level up.”
  • Sequencing and ordering. Games like Angry Birds require a specific set of steps to knock down towers, just as one might do in making a model or planning a ceremony such as a graduation or a wedding, to have things occur in a logical and orderly fashion.
  • Understanding both short-term and long-term goals. Just as in life, there are times when short-term goals appropriately supersede long-terms goals. Finding a way to balance short- and long-term goals such as helping a child to save money for long-term goals yet at the same time be able to spend money for important occasions would be helpful. In RPGs, the “leveling up” mentioned above can be seen as a short-term goal, while becoming powerful enough to defeat the enemy boss and advance the game serves as a long-term goal.
  • Prediction and foresight. Part of planning is being able to estimate possible outcomes. While no one can predict the future, the ability to identify the most important issues helps in knowing what happens next. Strategy games such as StarCraft II practice this, like when choosing what upgrades to buy first, deciding how to reinforce their defences or estimating the angle from which the enemy will attack.

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