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Games Hone the Skills We Need as Adults

Updated on October 27, 2019
Delores Keeper profile image

Delores Keeper has been playing chess for over 50 years. In that time she has learned a lot of real-life lessons from the game.

Early Children's' Games

So, how do games teach us life skills? Well, here’s a short list of some well-known games, from way back when as well as now, and how they teach and empower us:

  • Hide & Seek honed hunting skills
  • Cowboys & Indians taught the rules of strategy and fair play
  • Hopscotch built muscles and dexterity
  • Jacks taught thinking and manual dexterity
  • Team sports taught teamwork, strategy, and physical prowess


Games Then…

Back in the good old days (like hundreds of years ago), games were very physical, which was a necessity for children of that period to prepare for adult life. At that time, life was much more physically demanding than it is these days.

Kids did also play non-physical games, like cards and board games to learn thinking skills, but they were not the main focus. How many times in old tv shows did parents say, "go outside and play"? They didn't say, "why don't you break out the dominoes?" or "...shuffle up a game of cards". Kids were expected to run and jump and play physically in order to build themselves for adulthood.

… & Now

Fast forward to modern-day. Now, many of those games have been replaced by video games for teaching not only hand-eye coordination but also computer use, strategy, and teamwork. Yes, the main focus in gaming these days is on computer games like those played on PlayStation and Xbox or even on smartphones, tablets, and computers. In this day and age, kids need to be preparing for the world of adulthood and its high-tech demands. Is there a game of any kind that has spanned the years and is still popular today? Yes, there is and it's been around for a very long time, too.

History of Chess - Wikipedia

The history of chess can be traced back nearly 1500 years, although the earliest origins are uncertain. The earliest predecessor of the game probably originated in India, before the 6th century AD. From India, the game spread to Persia. When the Arabs conquered Persia, chess was taken up by the Muslim world and subsequently spread to Southern Europe. In Europe, chess evolved into roughly its current form in the 15th century.


Perhaps the most challenging and relevant game of all time has been around for 1500 years. What is it? Well, it’s chess and it teaches players, young and old, about a number of important things, including:

  • Patience – Waiting for your opponent to move is the obvious example, but you also learn to be patient with yourself as you learn the game and think about your moves for extended periods.
  • Concentration – Keeping your mind on the game and planning your moves, even when it is not your turn takes mental discipline and concentration. Keeping a mental picture of possibilities as the layout of the board changes also teaches this skill.
  • Strategic Thinking – Taking into account the different abilities of the pieces, and their areas of influence. Most importantly though, considering how the different pieces relate to each other.
  • Recognizing Consequences – Every move you make changes the parameters of the board, the strategy, and the life of the game. And every move you make will be met with another move by your opponent. These are the consequences.
  • Imagination – Each move must be pictured in your mind before the move is made. Further, you then have to picture what your opponent can do in response, then what you can do to counter that. A great deal of imagination is used in chess.

And now the game of Chess has been brought into our modern world with computers so it can be played online making the life skills it teaches even more accessible. Chess has been around for 1500 years and has adapted to this modern culture so well because the life skills it teachers are just as useful today as they were for people who lived and played the game 1500 years ago.

Not Just for Fun

It’s something to think about the games that we enjoy so much when we are ‘at play’ are simply tools to train us for the more serious aspects of life, but there it is. It has always been that you are not ‘just having fun’ or ‘wasting time’ when you play games. Sure, you're having a good time, but you're also learning plenty of life skills to boot. And, if you have kids, be sure to encourage them every day to play both the new and the old games so that they can learn the life lessons that they need to grow and prosper.


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