5 Survival Skills from Survival Games that Could Apply to Real Life

While no video game could adequately prepare you for surviving in the wilderness–whether it be following the zombie apocalypse, a nuclear war, or simply taking a wrong turn while hiking through the woods–advances in gaming have produced survival simulations that can give you a pretty good idea of the skills you would need to survive in such a scenario. The open worlds of some modern games strive to challenge players with both realistic and fantastic survival scenarios, ranging from acquiring food and water to finding the best route around a town saturated with zombies. Of course, some of those skills can also be highly beneficial in your regular life, as well. With that in mind, here are 5 survival skills and strategies¬† from modern popular survival games that could also translate to real life, whether you are lost in the wilderness or simply trying to get through the day at work or home.

rust scavening

Scavenging for Supplies

Whether you’re traversing a world torn down by the apocalypse or simply lost in the woods you can safely assume that you’re not going to stumble onto a Wal-Mart whenever you need supplies in a survival-genre game. And even if you are fortunate enough to be fully stocked up, food inevitably runs out, clothes fray and tear, and tools get worn out or lost. In order to survive a situation similar to one in a survival game, it would be absolutely vital that you know how to find the supplies you’ll need to survive, and the best way to do that is to develop a talent for scavenging in a hurry.

Gathering items has long been a staple of video games in a wide variety of genres, but it often plays a central role in survival games. For example, in the survival MMO (massive multiplayer online) game Rust you spawn into the world possessing nothing but a rock (you don’t even get clothes), which leaves you vulnerable to all kinds of threats until you can find tools to protect yourself with. Of course, you can try to survive that way–using your rock to bludgeon various sources of danger to death–but you will quickly find that it is a rather poor survival strategy. To give yourself any hope of survival you must scour your immediate surroundings for useful items while simultaneously taking care to avoid any potential threats. In a similar real-life scenario, food and clean water would probably need to be the first priority, since you would wear down in no time without them, but acquiring some protective gear would need to be near the top of the list, as well.

That said, scavenging isn’t all about gathering berries and firewood. This can go into a deeper dimension than a normal RPG like Final Fantasy XV (http://www.finalfantasy15guide.com/)In a post-apocalypse scenario, you might find an abundance of cars and other vehicles just waiting around to be commandeered. In the zombie-survival game H1Z1 a car can be a very useful tool for both getting around and mowing down swarms of the undead. However, taking a car in H1Z1 usually requires some additional scavenging, as many vehicles require new parts before they can be driven.

Of course, scavenging skills are applicable to regular life, as well. Learning to scavenge is really about familiarizing yourself with your surroundings and adapting to them. As you play a survival game you might start to get better at remembering where certain items are located so you can double-back to find them later. In real life, that ability might translate into helping you remember where your car keys or the remote control to the TV are. It might also help you when you’re rummaging around through your garage looking for that one particular tool you need to repair your car.

crafting in rust

Crafting to Create and Maintain Your Gear

If scavenging is the most vital skill to possess in a survival game then crafting is probably a close second. You can find most of the basics through scavenging, but there are some items that you probably won’t find just laying around. With some ability in crafting, however, you might be able to create those items yourself once you’ve scavenged the raw materials.

Crafting plays a significant role in most survival games. Just like scavenging, it is a particularly vital skill to possess in Rust. In the game your character can craft any number of items including weapons, ammunition, and armor. You can also use your crafting skills to modify weapons with things like flashlights or laser sights. Then there are the day-to-day items like paper, sleeping bags, a workbench, and even construction equipment to build or fortify a shelter. Some items can be crafted relatively easily provided you have scavenged or otherwise acquired the necessary ingredients. However, for some items you must first find a blueprint to teach you how to create them.

Learning to craft in the real-world is very similar. There are plenty of items you could learn to make simply by giving it some thought and then proceeding with trial and error. For example, almost anyone could learn how to make a blanket out of old clothes with some practice. However, crafting more complicated items could require some significant research.

Of course, developing the ability to craft items also means improving your skill in repairing your possessions. If you know how to create a shirt by sewing pieces of cloth together then repairing that shirt later will be a relatively simple task. Knowing how to mend your belongings might be the most practical application of crafting in the real world because you can save a lot of money by simply taking care of the things you own rather than throwing them away and replacing them with something new.

Of course, becoming a real-life MacGyver and learning to make the tools you need with just a Swiss-army knife, some duct tape, and whatever else happens to be on hand, would be pretty useful too.

Rust Gathering Wood

Resource Management

With all of the items you are going to obtain through scavenging and crafting, figuring out how to manage your resources effectively is crucial, and survival games can be an excellent way to learn how to start thinking about that. In almost any survival-genre game, staying alive is a journey with danger potentially lurking around every corner. In a game like The Forest, in which you survive a plane crash only to find yourself stuck in forest overrun with cannibals, you have to manage your hunger and thirst constantly. In order to keep the food and water coming at a steady pace it is important that you ration your supplies effectively.

In any wilderness or post-apocalypse survival scenario, you have to prepare for the unexpected. It is vital, then, that you determine which items you absolutely cannot do without and make sure you maintain an adequate supply of them. In another popular zombie-survival game titled DayZ, that means keeping a supply of antibiotics and bandages (you can also craft bandages out of old t-shirts) because you might find yourself sick or injured suddenly and there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to find the necessary supplies at a moment’s notice.

Once you accumulate a decent supply of the essentials, you can make decisions about what else you can afford to carry based on the items you know you can afford to drop. Just like in real life, there is typically a limit to how much you can carry with you in survival games. That limit may be a specific number or items or, more realistically, a total amount of weight that you can carry. That means you’re going to have to make important decisions about what to keep and what to drop whenever you’re at your limit and you locate a new item. In some situations you might try to hold out until you reach civilization so you can barter with the items you don’t need. Other times you might need to simply cut your losses and move on. In any case, decisions like these are routine in survival games, and it is often very difficult to make a call on what to keep and what to drop, particularly if you aren’t proactive about managing your resources. Just like you would in a real-life survival scenario (even if it’s just a long hiking and camping trip), you learn to put some serious thought into what you are going to carry beforehand, so you know that you can manage everything. If you know that you will need to add more weight later on, you make sure to leave some space.

Decisions about how to best utilize resources may not get any easier when there are people around either. In This War of Mine, for example, you are tasked with surviving in an impoverished, war-torn town, and any useful item you come across comes with an inherent choice. You must decide to either use the item yourself or trade it for something else. With supplies difficult to come by, almost every item in your possession feels like something you desperately need too. Even something like liquor comes with a degree of vital importance, since it can be used to improve the characters’ moods when they need to be dragged out of depression. However, liquor is also a much sought after commodity in This War of Mine, which makes swapping it with one of your neighbors and attractive option.

h1z1 fighting with zombies

Protect Yourself from the Rest of the World

To stay alive in any survival game you must be aware of your surroundings at all times and proceed cautiously as you explore the world. And while you will need to travel to find supplies, the best thing you can do to ensure your safety is to construct some kind of shelter. Now, if you suddenly find yourself dropped into the wilderness, as you are in The Forest, that might mean settling under a tree, finding a cave, or trying to fashion a very basic tee-pee from whatever you can find nearby in order to protect yourself from the elements. But that is no long-term solution. If you know that you are going to have to survive where you are for the foreseeable future then you need to create a home to protect yourself not only from the weather, but also, perhaps, your marauding fellow survivors.

This part of survival is emphasized in Rust. Before you can construct your shelter in Rust you must create a building plan and then locate or craft all of the necessary supplies to turn that plan into reality. But you also need to be very careful in how you build your shelter, as it will surely draw the attention of other survivors at some point. Shelters are obvious targets for factions looking to raid someone else’s supplies, so they must be built with that fact in mind. It also means that your shelter is likely to need significant repairs from time to time. In Ark: Survival Evolved you must keep an eye on the structural integrity of your shelter’s foundation and pillars because if they degrade too much the entire structure will collapse.

With all of the trouble involved it may seem like a better bet to simply lay low and go without a regular shelter.But you wouldn’t do that in the real world, would you? No, because even in the most civilized areas on Earth people choose to live indoors, in part, for the protection that a locked door offers from the rest of the world. Playing a survival game makes the security advantages of a shelter obvious, which may make players more aware of this issue in their everyday lives. That might translate into paying more attention to the state of your home’s doors and windows and maintaining them properly to ensure that an intruder can’t get through them easily. It might also make you rethink dozing off on a beach or in a park for fear that someone might use the opportunity to rob you.

hunting a deer

Teamwork Helps, But Learn To Be Self-Sufficient

In the post-apocalyptic worlds of many survival games, coming across other humans has the potential to be a harrowing experience. The kind of desperation that would pervade a world where simply surviving requires constant struggle could drive a lot of people to abandon their humanity altogether and adopt a strict kill-or-be-killed mentality. And that just glosses over the kind of atrocities that are often commonplace in these games because in a world where food is difficult to come by many can start thinking about their fellow survivors as the source of their next meal.

The potential danger in any post-civilization encounter with a stranger is illustrated well in H1Z1, where your fellow humans may be more of a threat to you than the swarms of zombies. You can never really be sure of a stranger’s intentions in the world of H1Z1. Even seemingly friendly survivors might take you out and steal all of your supplies the moment you turn your back. Similarly, in DayZ you might agree to ally yourself with some stranger only to later find, when you walk around the wrong corner and find your supposed ally’s faction waiting for you with weapons drawn, that he has lured you into a trap. Likewise, in The Forest every action you take in your struggle to survive carries the risk of drawing the attention of the cannibals occupying the same patch of wilderness as you. And unlike the zombies of games like H1Z1 and DayZ, the cannibals of The Forest are still human and can form a complex strategy for how best to hunt you down and turn you into dinner.

With survival games making it very clear that you can’t fully trust anyone but yourself you must learn to survive and defend on your own, at least for a time. If nothing else, you should learn to be very careful about whom you choose to ally yourself with, and be ready to drop alliances at a moment’s notice if they become a threat to your survival.

However, in many survival-genre games you are compelled to build factions and seek out allies in order to give yourself the best chance against the zombie hoard or just your more vicious fellow survivors. While you must tread carefully, putting together a faction offers some significant advantages. It may mean more mouths to feed, but that difficulty is more than made up for by the increased land you can collectively cover while scavenging and hunting. And rather than wandering around aimlessly in search of supplies, you can gather your party and loot in areas that might be too dangerous to venture into alone. And if, like so many others, you decide that it’s either kill or be killed, then having your own faction opens up the possibility of raiding other groups’ shelters or robbing individuals that have the misfortune of crossing your path. Moreover, by creating a powerful faction of your own, you can better defend your own shelter, which makes it much less likely that it will be raided and you will lose all of your supplies.

Of course, many of the benefits with working with others would translate to real life, as well. Even in regular day-to-day life it’s apparent how much easier it is to get things done when you have a large group of people to help out. That fact is most evident in the workplace, where various tasks are delegated to many different people, all for the overriding purpose of making money.

Survival games also illustrate the importance of being able to stand on your own though. You must learn to survive by yourself before you can create or join a faction, because simply jumping into an alliance with the first people you meet is a very bad strategy. In real life the stakes are much lower, but it is still wise to pick your friends carefully. Learning to be more self-sufficient can breed confidence and greater independence, as well. Sure, working in teams can be very useful, but it’s also true that the best way to make sure something gets done right is to do it yourself.