A young adult wearing a Virtual Reality Helmet, AI Generated Image

Video Games, not just a hobby anymore? 

While many people enjoy casually gaming after a long day at work, for kids aspiring to streamers and internet personalities, the options are very limited. Where can these young people with enhanced hand-eye coordination, steady hands, and quick reflexes go? The answer is construction!

Similar Skills, Untapped Tools

Joysticks, controllers, a mouse and keyboard, or even a Virtual Reality headset are all commonplace items in the gaming world. Using these different inputs, users can control the action in the game. Studies have shown that video games even enhance players' sensorimotor skills, like hand-eye coordination and muscle memories. These are both skills that are easily transferred to the role of a heavy eqipment operator. Using a specialized set of controls, advanced hand-eye coordination and precision, operators dig, move and rework a jobsite to help dismantle or build new structures. 

While your kid may insist that playing hours of Fortnite is essential for developing their career as an excavator operator, these skills aren't necessarily a direct transfer, but are a great basis to start from. Some games aren't all action all the time, games like Tetris or Portal offer some brain breaking puzzles that help train the brain and develop spatial awareness and problem-solving skills. 

Hands On by Nature

Training in the construction field has always been a bit more hands on than a textbook and chalkboard. In some cases, getting hands on training is difficult. Luckily, technology comes to save the day again, offering the virtual solution. Just like hopping in the seat of a racing game at an arcade, there are games/ simulators that mimic a piece of heavy equipment, Like CM Labs' Vortex Line.

These simulators drop you in the cab of machines, anything from a crane to an excavator, with realistic physics and controls to boot. Simulators provide unique opportunities for individuals aspiring to become heavy equipment operators, as it is often logistically challenging to train with actual equipment. While never really replacing hands on training, virtual training implements are becoming an important part of helping trainees get comfortable and begin understading the key concepts of the craft while forming a connection with their future career and something fun and familiar like their gaming hobbies. 

Thinking Outside the Box

Skilled crafts are almost always inherently creative and artistic. Being able to bring your thoughts and ideas to life with your hands is a hard won skill as well, and it doesn't come naturally to everyone. With many video games, such as Minecraft, or SimCity: Skylines, the games allow the player to be creative and make their own adventure. SimCity for example, puts the player in the shoes of a city planner, allowing them to build roads, zone districts, and manage virtual cities, trying to keep the inhabitants happy and healthy. 

Incorporating video games and simulators into heavy equipment operator training can be an innovative and effective way to develop the necessary skills. Whether it's enhancing sensorimotor abilities through action-packed games or using simulators to provide realistic training experiences, these tools offer a unique opportunity for aspiring operators to get hands-on experience with heavy equipment.