posted by Joe Anaya on April 21st, 2014

As a parent, we’re all trained to decry the existence of video games and how they’re ruining our children’s brains. God knows I’ve done my share of pointing out how mindless my son gets after playing video games all day. But there are some benefits, maybe.

I once flew in a glider plane and my friend, the pilot, let me steer the plane for a bit. While in the air, he gave me a quick tutelage of the stick and the pedals and the ribbon on the windshield. I take control, following his instructions. As he comments on how well I’m doing, my first thought is, “It’s just like the fighter pilot video games I’ve played.”

My son’s first foray into driving go-carts was a cautious tour around the track. The next time we happen to race go-carts, he’s like Dale Earnhardt Jr. I ask him how he got so good. He replied, “I just drove like Mario Kart.” Well, there you go. We both used a video game like a simulator and when he got back in the real world on a real track, he was unstoppable.

The craziest story I’ve heard about how video games might be a teaching tool was from my sister and nephew. Their family went on a trip to Venice, Italy. As they were walking around touring the sites, they got a little turned around. My brother-in-law is pretty good with a map, but while he was deciphering the logos, my nephew says, “It’s this way about 3 blocks.”

My brother-in-law confirms his son’s assessment. Then my nephew throws in, “We’ll pass a cathedral on the left and it will be on the right.”

My sister incredulously questions, “How do you know that?”

“It’s from Assassin’s Creed. But usually, I’m running along the roof tops, so it took me a second to get my bearings.” Apparently, the video game was true to the architecture and layout of the actual city.

So, as a parent, I can no longer say, “Nothing good ever came from playing video games.” Well, I can still say it, I just know deep inside it’s not always true. But when has that ever stopped me from using a good line. I’m pretty confident though, that I’ll never have to use my intimate knowledge of the rooftops of Arkham City.

File Under Mr. Cool