The Dorklyst: 7 Ways Videogames Make Us Smarter

By Andy Grossman / June 27, 2012
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At best, fun-loving critics would say that video games are a complete waste of time. At worst, they teach children to murder each other while sexting corpses using gun swords. Or something along those lines.

Opponents of games love to point to stories of people killing each other over a disconnected PlayStation or stolen virtual goods as an example of how Nintendo tapes are leading to the next apocalypse. And while video games have undoubtedly led some idiots to be idiots (for more information, see "the history of every art form, ever"), they've also made us all more intelligent. Really. Here are 7 ways videogames are making us smarter.

7. Rated 'M' For 'Magnanimous Use Of Words'

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Fatality. Civilization. Flawless. Random. Ultimate. Corsair. Evolution. Ocarina.

These are all words that you probably knew in elementary school because of video games. And while you would've learned them eventually through the wonders of education, you would also probably would've never used them in every day life the way you do now. Games such as Diablo 3 even turn random enemies into SAT flash cards of words that mean "evil."

Think about the flip side of the complaint about kids on XBOX Live: children are thoughtlessly talking about squad tactics and economic victories because games have made those terms easy to understand and fun. They can be annoying, but they're not dumber for having played video games. And that's pretty tubular (thanks, Ninja Turtles games).

6. Where The Past Comes Alive With Wonder Bonuses

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How many wonders of the world can you name off the top of your head? Pyramids, sure. Those are hard to avoid. But where did you learn about the Hanging Gardens? There's a very good chance it was in Sid Meier's Civilization. Because, let's be honest, ain't nobody talking about the Hanging Gardens in school 'cept folks who want an extra person happy in their cities.

Even if you're already well-educated in history, video games have let you relive important battles, view wars from different angles, and create alternate histories based on what could have happened. Could Germany have won World War II if it didn't attack Russia? Let's try it out. What if the black plague had totally wiped out Europe and left it open to the other continents? That would make a great mod.

Hell, even History Channel used Total War to show off battles (although that may just have been because there are no pawn store videogames…yet).

5. All The Financial Sense Of The Drug Trade With None Of The Getting Shot

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Remember the game DrugWar? You probably loaded it on to your calculator in math class, ironically giving you a better education in the use of numbers than Algebra 2.

B-b-b-b-but DrugWar is about drugs! Okay, fine, Mr. "Not Catching Onto This List Yet". Replace it with Mafia Wars. Or a baseball management game. Or The Sims. Or any strategy game. Almost all of them require resource management. How much money is coming in, how much money is getting spent, and the difference between the two.

Want that Protoss Carrier? You have to save up. You want your Sim to buy a bigger house? You've got to get them a good job and spend less money on food. It's that simple, and it's a lesson we're all learning at a young age through video games. No, dad, I'm not screwing around with my Sims by taking out the ladders of the pool – I'm learning about profit margins.

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