Games that Teach Stuff

Recently played through Card Shark. As someone who struggles with doing even a basic shuffle, I enjoyed learning about the different techniques and how they are used to manipulate cards in a variety of ways.

To that end, was wondering what other games—simulation or otherwise—go into a lot of depth and nuance about a particular activity.

I haven't yet learned how to play mahjong from a video game but I really hope to some day, if that counts.

A person could quite credibly play an actual drum kit having gotten good enough at the higher difficulty Rock Band songs.

Gran Turismo is one of the most obvious examples.

As to one very specific thing GT7 taught me is that doing a hard break with the clutch pedal all the way down is a very bad idea (It was a bad habit I had driving IRL). The first time I tried a steering wheel + pedals on the game my car just went flying on the first corner and I immediatly understood why it was something I shouldn't do while driving.

I learned Koi Koi from Sakura Wars (2019), but I want a game to teach me how to play full-on Hanafuda.

@“exodus”#p137014 Have you tried Mahjong Soul? In my memory, it did okay walking me through the basic rules and some simple yaku. That's where I got started with my mahjong knowledge (which is still incredibly limited).

I feel like I've learned a lot of little stuff from games, but no actual skills come to mind. Euro Truck Sim corrected my American ignorance of European roads. I grew up being told that everybody over there drove on the left side of the road, but turns out it's just the British.

Oh, and there (basically) aren't any snakes in Alaska.

@"Tradeghouls 'n ghosts"#p137037 I want this too!


@“billy”#p137033 oh yeah! A friend of mine who is now a drummer in a couple bands did in fact learn from rock band.

@“exodus”#p137068 I went the other way and convinced people I was the world’s greatest Rock Band player because I could play with my eyes closed. The truth is I’m awful at those vertically-scrolling plastic instrument games but good at drums, so I just played the parts by ear and hoped for the best.

This worked well for Rock Band, where the parts were about 95% accurately represented. Not so much for Guitar Hero, which was far less accurate. I suck at both games on guitar.

@“exodus”#p137014 may want to try checking out 遊んで麻雀が強くなる! 銀星麻雀DX on Switch. My partner got it when we last went to Japan over the summer and I was watching her play it on the plane back

I second Gran Turismo. I didn’t have much truck with racing games growing up, minus the brief rentals of Rock n Roll racing, with its amazing soundtrack, or the criminally underrated Diddy Kong Racing, showing that even a small hub world could give imagination the elbow room to breathe. No, not until Gran Turismo was I interested in real cars. Cars your friends mom would drive them to soccer practice in or to the grocery store, everyday cars that with just a little tlc, some better tires, and maybe a four stage turbo, could make your palms sweat as you let it all loose on the final straight of Route 5 or feathered the buttons delicately around the final s-turn on Trial Mountain. Real cars became real possibilities with Gran Turismo. I finally understood the drive and excitement of my friend a few years earlier as he devoted every waking moment to fixing up a dusty Honda Prelude in his garage. The hot show on TV at that time was Viper, a stupid as hell advertisement for the recent Dodge behemoth, and every kid I knew drooled over the phallic sports car filled with oil slick and other Bond-like tricks. But even though Evan had posters of Countaches and Diablos on his wall, his Prelude was the altar at which he prayed, morning, noon, and night. And who could, once seeing those lights flip for the first time, not fall in love? I mean it looks like the car was having a snooze and just woke up. Points for personality.

Gran Turismo 2 was everything, but more. Hundreds of hours I sunk into that game, restarting over and over again, never growing bored. Every car felt different, sounded unique. Crazy people made this game, the kind of crazy I could get down with. I loved GT2, and it stayed with me, even after I sold everyone of the rest of my playstation games in the trough at Funcoland to finance my Dreamcast ambitions. Bleemcast! was a good friend in those times, and the racing never stopped, it just looked smoother.

At some point over the hundreds upon hundreds of hours of racing simulation, something somewhere in my lizard brain was taking careful notes…

It was a late night, 1, maybe 2 am driving back from DC to my home. I had been following the only other car on the road by around four lengths, close enough to convoy but far enough for respect, and sufficient braking time should a deer try its luck. The car in front was some white Camry looking thing, and I myself in a VW Beetle, all the rage at the time as they had made a major comeback, mostly due I think to the inclusion of a plastic flower bouquet to the right of the steering column as standard. We were both cruising at 70 in the leftmost lane.

As the Camry crested a hill approaching the first few exits to my hometown, the world went crazy. The Camry’s taillights bled red as the car made impact with a stalled vehicle on the other side of hill and the Camry’s rear launched into the air, sending the entire car spinning like a top towards the right lane. The stalled car’s front was rammed into the wall on the left by the impact, the twisted frame now perpendicular to the highway, the entire lane in front of me a tangled wall of metal and fiberglass.

Slow motion for me.

The one part of my brain, the sometimes logical, the all the time sarcastic, was in total shock. Things were happening, bad things, and that part needed to have a little sit down, maybe a snack, and puzzle this whole thing out in a corner somewhere.

Fortunately, lizard brain had taken notes while it sat at the back of the class most of my life, not allowed to have the controller but only watch, and now it had taken the wheel.

A yank of the wheel left and the beetle barreled toward the wall and the front of the stalled car and doom. The wheel moved sharp like to the right and then the beetle’s rear loosened a little and for a beautiful, awful instant the Camry was pirouetting upside down at a 45 degree angle a breath away from the beetle’s careening hood. And then it drifted up and away, as only large hunks of aluminum and fiberglass can, and the beetle slid right, just where it had been a fraction of a second before.

“But now what about that?” said the logical part of my brain, pointing at the stalled car and the then imminent impact of drivers-side on drivers-side love that was about to happen. Or would have, were they not still in the corner sucking their thumb.

Lizard brain whipped it left again, the beetle swerving hard, the front bumper almost kissing the stall’s trunk as it slipped by.

To the best of my estimation, this all happened between 1.5 and 2 seconds.

It was several more seconds coasting down the highway before the lizard brain handed the reins back, and several minutes after pulling over before the adrenaline let me even begin to process.

I guess I’ve never really thought about how Gran Turismo saved my life until typing this out today. All those Sunday Cups, all the laps, all the developer’s attention to detail, all the absolute balls of Bleem! coalesced into an educational course that allowed my inner lizard to grab the gold in that most important of license tests.

@“billy”#p137033 this was me, kinda! It was a small part of my early drum education.

fighting games basically taught me how to acquire skills in general, since the kinds of things you have to do to get proficient at fighting games are all basically present in pretty much any other skill acquisition process. this year my two projects were “learn to make pizza” and “learn to play golf” and i have been able to make satisfying progress on both so far largely by applying the same general tools and techniques i first cultivated in fighting games. both of them benefit from frequent repetition so i can iterate faster, controlling as many variables as possible to isolate the things i want to work on first and then changing things up as i get more comfortable, and figuring out where the nuances of the physical movements (working with dough, swinging a club) are more or less important at different parts of the learning process.