Five lessons gaming taught us, from committing crimes to surviving the inevitable zombie apocalypse

Video games get a bad rap. It's all Dr. Phil telling us we're addicts and President Obama telling us to go outside an play. Well, we call bullshit. Turns out video games may be the greatest boon to society ever. As well as alleviating Terminal Boredom Syndrome and giving us something to do when we're incapacitated by our medical marijuana, it turns out games have a great learning value, too.

Just the other day, Wired published a story on how the Madden series of football games was breeding generations of better, smarter, more game-aware football players. And it got us thinking. We never made it to the NFL (we were too busy playing the wrong video games, presumably) but what video game skills have we learned in our years as console cowboys that we can apply to real life?

Game(s): Guitar Hero, Rock Band

Skill: Rocking the fuck out.

No, we're not claiming these games taught us how to play real instruments --yet (we're pretty sure you have to nail every song on expert before the skills translate to real life). But it's done great things for our stagecraft. All those hours spent rocking out with plastic instruments in front of the TV have taught us how to master the fine art of managing to coordinate two hands doing different things while we purse our lips sensually and strut around during our solo. That shit ain't easy! We've also gotten really good at thanking Cleveland for being a great rock and roll city while playing as the singer. This stuff has got to come in handy someday.

Game(s): X-Wing, StarFox, Crimson Skies, Xevious, Zaxxon

Skill: Flying unmanned aerial drones

When we saw the Predator drones in action, we thought, "Hey, we can do that!" Hell, we have done that. We've spent hundreds of hours flying pretend planes in front of TVs, which is what the Predator pilots do, only when they hit the fire button on their controller, a terrorist training camp explodes. And we're pretty sure they don't get power ups from flying through brightly colored rings, like in a lot of these games. Otherwise, pretty much the same difference. Look, we've been honing these skills since the arcade days when we pumped every quarter we could lay hands on into Zaxxon and Xevious. We should be able to kick some serious ass! How about it, USAF? Give us a shot?

Game(s): Tetris

Skill: Packing the car trunk, getting that last bag of frozen spinach to fit in the freezer.

All those hours spent twisting and turning little multicolored bricks really paid off. By our scientific calculations, we are 273 percent more capable at fitting the maximum amount of shit possible into tiny spaces, thanks to the spatial awareness imparted onus by Tetris. Our evidence? Every time we're moving things around and packing the car trunk, freezer or closet, we hear that goddamn Tetris theme playing in our head, over and over. You can't argue with that kind of science.

(Yep. everything in this video, totally doable in real life.)

Game(s): Grand Theft Auto series

Skill: Crime

Looks like all those parents' groups were right: Grand Theft Auto is destroying our children and teaching them to be criminals. Why, whenever we're short on cash we just beat on a pedestrian with a bat until money appears on the ground next to their corpse, then run around the block in circles until our star meter empties and the cops stop looking for us -- never takes more than a minute. And when we need a ride? We just run up to a car and push the triangle button, and voila: it's ours. The bus is for suckers -- unless you're carjacking it, that is.

Game(s): Resident Evil, Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead

Skill: Surviving the inevitable zombie apocalypse

Okay, admittedly we haven't got a chance to put these skills to the test -- yet. But we all know the zombie apocalypse is coming, and when it does, those untold hours practicing will be invaluable. Resident Evil taught us the value of green herbs and typewriter ribbons, Dead Rising let us practice our mall-survival skills and taught us that a lawnmower is a great way to take out a horde of zombies and Left 4 Dead gave us vital practice in dealing with both 28 Days Later running style zombies and weird, mutant zombies that explode goo and do other weird shit. All told, we figure we're covered no matter what kind of zombies appear -- unless it's the nearly unkillable type from Return of the Living Dead. No game can prepare you for that.

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Cory Casciato is a Denver-based writer with a passion for the geeky, from old science fiction movies to brand-new video games.
Contact: Cory Casciato