3 Benefits Every Entrepreneur Gets From Playing Video Games

I didn’t have a lot of exposure to the outside world as a kid growing up in rural, small-town Massachusetts.

But I did have a curious mind, and I loved watching movies and playing video games as a kid. In a sense, that was how I learned about the world. Even something as simple as playing a racing game set in Europe piqued my curiosity about the famous monuments or landmarks that would pop up along the track.

Gaming gave me a lot of skills and opened up the world around me, but it also taught me plenty of lessons that I’ve since applied to entrepreneurship. I know video games get a good amount of hate today, mostly because it’s very easy for people to get sucked into them. And yes, when a game is distracting you from pursuing your goals, it’s not positively affecting your life.

But when used as a tool, gaming can be very valuable. In fact, any entrepreneur can get three major benefits from spending time in a virtual world:

1. How to deal with mistakes and failure

Failure isn’t absolute.

Unfortunately, too many people come down hard on themselves when they make a mistake, especially if it happened to cost their company some money.

But remember, you can always fix a mistake—or at least, you can remember not to make it again. There’s always a path forward or a way to improve next time.

This is exactly the lesson video games impart. Did you die? Lose a life? Get sent back to the beginning of the level? Well, next time you’ll make it a little further. Next time, you’ll figure out that obstacle that took you by surprise. And you’ll move on. You’ll continue to make progress with each attempt.

Most of the time, failure isn’t as bad as it seems. You probably will end up failing at something along the way, so it’s essential to keep a mindset that accepts failure for what it is—an opportunity to try again.

2. How to persevere

In entrepreneurship—and life in general—the ones who succeed are generally those who persevere.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been working on a business or project and thought, “This might not work out.” Sometimes, I was right—it didn’t pan out. But other times, the project went on to be wildly successful.

If I had given up every single time I thought a venture might fail, I wouldn’t have a single success story behind me.

The interesting thing about video games is that even though you may fail repeatedly, the game teaches you to use a mindset geared towards progress. Every game gets harder as you go. The bosses get tougher, the puzzles get trickier, the obstacles get bigger. But the more you achieve, the more you know how to make it even farther.

You learn that all it takes to overcome an obstacle is a little perseverance. You learn to see the path forward.

3. How to spend energy on decision-making

When I sit down at a restaurant, chances are, I’ll have decided what I’m going to eat before most people I’m with even open the menu. It’s not something I do purposefully, it’s just a natural reaction because it doesn’t really matter to me if I’m having the salmon or the trout. I don’t need 20 minutes to think about it.

But that’s the thing—everyone has to figure out for themselves when to put time into making a decision and when to simply make it and move on. Decision fatigue can be dangerous, and as an entrepreneur, the number of decisions you’re forced to make on a daily basis can be stunning.

Video games condition you to think carefully about when to invest time into a big decision—and when to make a quick decision and keep moving.

In a video game, you’re always weighing some sort of decision given the limited amount of time, resources, or health you have left. Which fork in the road do you take? Do you stop and fight the bad guys or run past them?

You make thousands of those decisions while playing a game for just a short amount of time. And eventually, it conditions you to choose wisely between stopping and thinking and just going with your initial gut reaction.

Getting started with gaming for entrepreneurs

My advice here is two-fold.

One, find something that resonates with you. Shooting games and other violent video games aren’t for everyone, but there plenty of other genres to explore.

Second, I’d advise against starting off with an online, multiplayer game because that’s the type of action you can get sucked into if you aren’t careful. Just like most things in life, you’ll get the most benefits out of gaming if you do it in moderation.

If you find an off-line, single-player game you really like, it only benefits you to carve out a little time here and there to play it. You may be surprised at just how much the game can teach you. 

A lifelong entrepreneur, Brians D. Evans has a knack for solving important entrepreneurial problems unconventionally. In 2015, Brian became an Inc. 500 Entrepreneur. Brian’s online advertising and marketing agency made the Inc. 500 list of Fastest Growing Private Companies in America, and was the 25th fastest growing advertising and marketing agency in America. Brian is the founder of Influencive, and a CMO in the blockchain tech, and logistics space. Recently, Brian was named Blockchain Influencer of the Year. Brian has been consistently ranked as one of the top business journalists and influencers in the world.

  • Originally published February 7, 2019, updated April 26, 2023