Learning though geek hobbies

While my hobbies have generally taken a bashing by the public because they are harmful to children (ie. video games cause real life violence, objectionable images in comic books, etc.), there are some who have acknowledged the positives that they offer. While that’s all well and good, I think a lot of us don’t see the other things geeky hobbies offer.

Take video games for example. There’s a lot more that it can offer besides “improving eye-hand coordination.” I’ve actually learned a lot of other skills because of my early exposure to computer games. And, no, I’m not talking about the “educational games” you see. I actually learned these skills though “normal” games.

I'm looking at you, Math Blaster!

I’m looking at you, Math Blaster!

When I was young, I got addicted to the old Sierra adventure games such as King’s Quest and Quest for Glory. These games worked like old text adventures like Zork. But, this time, instead of pages of words describing the scene, you do get to see a picture. Well, you can still type in the “look” command so you can get more details, which is necessary, but it was a good start.

But, through the old adventure games, I learned a skill I didn’t know I could learn. That skill is typing. I had to learn to type in order to play these games because this was the way to interact with it. Sure, you did just type in simple phrases, like “USE BOWL” but, because of the games, I got a lot of practice. There was a specific scene in the first Police Quest where you have to use your nightstick to fend off some bikers. Since I was just starting out, I always died because entering “USE NIGHTSTICK” before the thugs rushed you was tough.

Well, I didn't know "USE PR-24" would've been okay.

Well, I didn’t know “USE PR-24” would’ve been okay.

But, it’s not only video games where I learned stuff that would help me in real life. Comics was a big part of my life when I was young (and still is… somewhat). I was more of a DC comics kid since my mother managed to keep some of her old comics in good condition (thanks, Mom!). So, I grew up, not only learning how to read with Batman, I also learned a few things about heroism and generally using your brain to fight as well.

I got exposed to Marvel comics and characters when I got to grade school. He was an avid collector of Marvel comics and he would bring a lot of them to school. So, I managed to borrow some of them and read the stories of the X-Men. I thought it was wrong that, even though they were trying their best to save the world and whatnot, they were being hunted down by the government via the Sentinels. Without really knowing, I was learning about how unfair bigotry is through their stories.

It didn't hurt that they stories were pretty awesome as well.

It didn’t hurt that they stories were pretty awesome as well.

As I got older, I started getting interested in anime, which was still a niche hobby during the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I started out with copying old VHS tapes of Ranma and Tenchi Muyo with a bunch of guys who had access to them (they were pretty hard to find in the Philippines). At that time, I didn’t really have much of an idea of Japanese culture but, after watching so much anime, I got used to their practices, like how they practice Valentines Day (it’s the girls that give chocolates to the boys they like) and White Day (they boys that received the chocolates on Valentines Day have to return the favor by giving a gift).

I also tried watching anime with the original Japanese language. So, I actually got the practice of reading fast since I had to, not only watch what was going on screen, but I also had to read the dialogue through the subtitles. Not only that, but, like most fans who are used to watching anime with subtitles, I did manage to learn a few Japanese words in the process. Sadly, I’m out of practice with my Japanese now since I haven’t gotten interested in any new anime lately.

But the most important thing my geeky hobbies has given me is actually getting me interested in learning topics that I wouldn’t get interested in normally. Like the previously mentioned Japanese culture, I didn’t just learn it from watching anime; I took the time to do research on it to get a better understanding of it.

I like to give mention to things like God of War for making me wanting to learn more about Greek mythology, Marvel’s Mighty Thor for introducing me to Norse mythology, Assassin’s Creed for being a gateway to study more about the histories of other countries, Gran Turismo for showing me what camber and gear ratios are and so much more. Because of them, learning about stuff wasn’t boring since I wanted to learn. I wasn’t forced to learn; I volunteered to spend the time and effort to do the research on various topics.

There’s so much more I can learn and I can thank my hobbies for acquainting me with the possibilities of what I can learn.

What are the things you’ve learned through your geeky hobbies? What are the topics you got interested in because you encountered them through some form of geek media? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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