How to Get Better at Programming: Can Video Games Help You Sharpen Your Coding Skills?


Published: 06 Feb 2019

Software Development

Playing video games helps programming skills

Playing video games is a great way to unwind after a hard day at work. More so, many software developers name playing video games among their hobbies. Even Zuckerberg claimed that he had started to learn programming because he was interested in the inner workings of his favorite games.

Playing video games to boost your logical thinking

Personally, I have never met a programmer who does not enjoy playing Counter Strike, Fortnite or World of Warcraft. While many people consider it to be a massive waste of time that could be spent more productively, some go as far as calling playing video games “a part of their professional development that help improve coding skills.” In the light of this, let’s try to find out if there is any connection between programming and video games. So are there any positive effects of video gaming on one’s coding skills?

Analytical skills

These are something of significant importance to any programmer. A handful of games like Civilization have the potential to develop your analytical skills. As a strategy game, it calls for creative thinking needed to form an appropriate strategy and carry it out.

The connection here is obvious but its nature remains unclear, especially with adults. Do games help develop analytical skills, or you need to have them in order to become a successful player? On the other hand, when a child is good at strategy games, he or she probably has that natural ability to analytical thinking.

Boost your cognitive thinking while playing video games

Cognitive strength

One of the effects of video games is strengthening your attention. Selective attention defines your ability to focus on what’s relevant and filter out irrelevant information. When reviewing lines of code in an attempt to spot the errors, this kind of attention helps you to be more observant.

At the end of the day, our productivity depends on the effective use of brain power. In video games, especially action-packed ones like Overwatch or Counter Strike, you learn how to scan efficiently for a target, snap attention back after finding it, and focusing on several targets at the same time.

Problem solving

Making critical decisions fast is what defines a problem solver with great programming skills. In games where decision making is often reduced to seconds, a player needs to use their brain power to the fullest before making the next step.

So do video games improve problem solving skills? Some of them might. Games like Heroes of Might and Magic which involve problem solving train your cognitive flexibility because they offer to solve fictitious problems you are not likely to face in real life.

In programming, where you often need to approach a real-life problem with a software solution and to look at it from different angles, such flexibility and creativity will sure come in handy.

Team work in playing video games


In team games like Dota2 and World of Warcraft, team effort is a necessary condition to win a game. Studies found that online team games like these help their aficionados become more valuable team players at work. However, the degree at which the virtual teamwork is translated to real life is unclear.

So, is there any benefit to playing video games?

Yes, but a video game effect here is indirect. You see, a game is a piece of technology which can inspire a person to learn how it works or generally become more tech savvy. Additionally, playing certain games can boost your soft skills due to their socializing nature. But what games can’t teach you is the most crucial thing – programming skills. Games can train your memory, which is critical for remembering the language syntax, but so do reading and learning foreign languages.

One more thing to mention, when playing video games, we often seek fast rewards and tend to quit when we fail to unlock the next level. When programming, it may take a long time to find a solution and giving up is certainly not an option.

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