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Twenty years of strategy
Games, whether video or board and tabletop, can strengthen skills that can be applied to real life situations. Strategy, critical thinking and calculation skills can be sharpened and applied to real world situations. Honing these skill sets can be particularly beneficial to Airmen in a variety of career fields. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)
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Twenty years of strategy

Posted 2/5/2013   Updated 2/5/2013 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

2/5/2013 - INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey  -- As a young boy I was captured by strategy, whether it was facing off in a game of chess or constructing battle strategies with my brother using toy soldiers. At the time I didn't think anything of it; we were just trying to have fun. Looking back, those games geared my mind toward strategic thinking and to interact with others strategically, which in the military, is essential.

The skills developed from these games have quickened my thinking, and helped me come up with ideas that I otherwise may not have. This assisted greatly when I went from being a still photographer to a photojournalist. Fast thinking and out-of-the-box ideas have been a life saver on more than one occasion.

Since my days of playing with toy soldiers to now, as an Airman, I continue applying my gaming strategies to my everyday life, from figuring out routes to places to creating plans for photo shoots and story features. I've even used my gaming experience to help orchestrate and synchronize events, to include a plan that charted routes through multiple cities at different time intervals and ended with all photographers arriving at the same location within three minutes of one another.

Although games have advanced in 20 years, the development of quick thinking and planning hasn't changed. Partly because of those advancements, there was a time period where I stepped out of the traditional board and tabletop style gaming and into the world of video games, both computer and console. With my transition to the electronic era, the new games I played required me to think more quickly than what I was used to. These types of games require people to anticipate the next move faster, and these factors can help develop quick-thinking leaders. Gaming may not give you the best answers, but it may help you come up with a good plan and be quick on your feet.

Though it took me a while to discover those hidden traits within gaming, I wasn't the only one to find them. According to a study done by the educational communication and technology program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008, some games have proven to increase your critical thinking and problem solving abilities. Researchers concluded that 86 percent of the posts in the forum showed an increased level of problem solving, and even the successful use of mathematical predictions.

Critical thinking or strategy, however, isn't the only benefit to gaming. There is also a social and morale aspect to it. With board and tabletop games you physically interact with other players and foster a bond between other strategists. Even with online games there is still that interaction between how you plan and how your teammates think.

During my tour here in Turkey, I've returned to the traditional board and tabletop gaming that I enjoyed so much as a child. With socialization being such an important part of an overseas tour, gaming has been a helpful tool. It's about meeting and socializing with other strategists and quick thinkers who enjoy the same hobbies. It's about making connections with Airmen of all ranks and utilizing those connections to network and improve myself and my work abilities.

So what may have started off as just having fun has become a critical part of my everyday job in the military. My strategies and quick thinking are still improving while also maintaining that fun and entertainment aspect. Games have improved my military career, and I encourage other Airmen to also find something that works for them - something that stimulates the brain and interests them. There are unseen benefits that you can potentially apply to everyday life.

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