Golden lessons for medical writers from video games

Once upon a time, in the far-away years of the 1980s and 1990s, video games were regarded as a niche endeavour for elite-level nerds; proud owners of crumbs in their beards and mint condition still-sealed-in-their-boxes Star Wars action figures. But today, almost half the world’s entire population play video games at least once a week, with the industry is worth approximately £75 billion.

Technology has moved on from the 8-bit era, and now video games offer much more than entertainment. Gaming can contribute to scientific research, enable post-stroke rehabilitation programmes and can even teach you Spanish. Hola!

Gaming offers other cognitive benefits too. Many studies have shown that gamers outperform non-gamers on perceptual and cognitive measures, including task switching, response time, decision making and temporal judgement. As Medical Writers, we find these skills transferable and handy (and think they may be for any other job too). So, why is gaming so great for medical writers? Let’s dust off our old N64s and find out…

Working hard and fast to deadlines

In the world of Med Comms, we’re always working to tight deadlines – and no game recreates this feeling quite like The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. If you’re not familiar with Zelda (where have you been?), you play as Link, a green-hatted, sword-wielding hero. Your task is to save the Land of Termina from an irate-looking moon possessed by an evil mask, before time runs out and the moon decides to collide with the earth and obliterate all life.

If reading that gave you Déjà vu, it could be because this plot has some similarities to congress season; racing against the clock to meet deadlines with your moon-faced client ominously hovering nearby, ready to crash down to earth at short notice. Do keep in mind, if your client is irate, it’s because they’ve been possessed by an evil mask. Or maybe they’re just a bit stressed. But we prefer the mask theory better.

Photo taken from a video game of a small person riding a bike while an angry faced moon looks on. Golden lessons for medical writers from video games.
This photo, taken during a congress season, shows me (left), in a productive meeting with a client (right).
Perseverance and resilience

When I was a young’un, while other kids were outside eating mud and rolling a hoop down the road with a stick, I was inside putting in the hours on point-and-click grindathon, Runescape. In this massive multiplayer online role-playing game, you can level up various skills from fletching arrows to fighting goblins. In practice, this meant clicking on an object and waiting for the task to complete – repeat ad nauseam. As a child this was totally enthralling, and as an adult, I can look back on the many hours spent here, knowing that this work contributed to my resilience as a medical writer. If I could persevere through hours of the painstakingly repetitive, thankless grind of levelling up my Runescape skills, then no doubt I could do the same as a medical writer. But jokes aside, patience pays off.

Teamwork and communication

Effective team play requires clear communication, building relationships, identifying and placing one another’s skills to the most suited tasks and working to achieve a common goal. You only need to revisit Leroy Jenkins to be reminded of the perils of forgetting this. Conversely, take a look at this case study: Left 4 Dead. As part of a team of four, you take on one of the personas of:

  1. Francis, the rampantly-tattooed alcoholic biker
  2. Bill, the chain-smoking Vietnam veteran with a mild knee injury
  3. Zoey, the horror film-loving university student
  4. Louis, the Sean of the Dead-dressed IT consultant (Whatever the occasion, it’s often a good idea to have someone good with technology on the team)

Through the course of the game, the characters work together to achieve a common goal: to survive the zombie apocalypse. We in the world of Med Comms can learn a lot from this story – most crucially, the importance of teamwork in surviving apocalyptic situations.


Thinking strategically is a vital for business, and where better to hone these skills than games like Age of Empires, Command and Conquer Red Alert, or Civilisation? Being able to think about the bigger picture, long-term goals, pain points and opportunities in these games is analogous to thinking about not only your client’s needs, but also the needs of your own business.

Unwinding and stress relief

Last but not least, video games are a great way to chill out. You can’t perform at your best if you’re in work mode 24/7.  And those that say they can are no doubt on a path to burnout.* Video games provide that much needed time to unwind, rest your mind, and be transported into another place.

*Real-life burnout, which is less cool than PS2 classic action-racing series, Burnout

So, if this has inspired you to play a few games, here’s the link to the timeless, eternal classic – Pong.


  1. Statista. Available at: Accessed August 2021.
  2. NewZoo. Available at: Accessed August 2021.
  3. FoldIt. Available at: Accessed August 2021.
  4. McNulty PA, et al. Int J Stroke. 2015;10(8):1253–60. 
  5. DuoLingo. Available at: Accessed August 2021.
  6. DuoLingo. Available at: Accessed August 2021.