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Tic-Tac-Toe: 13 Valuable Life Lessons We Can Learn From This Game (Proactivity,…)

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

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Most people don’t realize that many of the games they play are actually teaching them valuable life lessons. It is undeniable that the games we play are designed to be fun, but they are about so much more than that. Most of them also have embedded lessons that can be applied to our broader lives. 

One particular game that teaches a plethora of life lessons is Tic-Tac-Toe. If you have been playing this game over the years, you might recognize the lessons as they are mentioned. Playing Tic-Tac-Toe can be quite beneficial to you. You could learn a few helpful lessons that you can apply to life.

As a game, Tic-Tac-Toe is quick, easy, and fun. But, when it comes to life lessons, the game gives us all a lot to think about. The below-mentioned list of life lessons has been carefully thought out, over a few rounds of Tic-Tac-Toe.

These are 13 life lessons you can learn from playing Tic-Tac-Toe:

1. Strategy is everything.

When playing Tic-Tac-Toe, you might start to notice that the game is “solved”. This means that there is a specific strategy you can apply to the game that can ensure a win or at least a tie. Of course, this usually involves going first and placing your mark in one of the outer corners of the grid. 

With this strategy, your chance of winning is far greater than simply placing your mark anywhere and hoping for the best. This is quite applicable to life too. If you have a guaranteed strategy in mind, it’s best to go with it instead of “winging” it. 

2. Focus on not losing instead of on winning.

Some players make their entire focus about winning the game. In reality, if you shift that focus to just not losing (go on the defense instead of offense), you can avoid losing the game and instead tie the game. 

This is similar in life. Instead of trying so hard to be better than everyone else and win, rather focus on being the best you can be and put effort into not losing/failing. 

3. Education provides a winning edge.

Educating yourself on the game is a surefire way to ensure your success. If you take the time to study the gameplay and learn a few tips and tricks, you can really get ahead. In fact, it could ensure that you win against those who don’t have much knowledge of the game. 

It works the same in real life. Educating yourself in your areas of interest will really put you a step ahead of the rest. The more you know, the more you will/can achieve. 

4. Be proactive – take the first turn. 

If you take the first turn in a game of Tic-Tac-Toe, you can influence the game so that you have a high possibility of winning. You can still win if you take the second turn, but only if your opponent doesn’t know the tricks and strategies of the game. 

Being proactive in life is much the same. Don’t be afraid to take the first turn; you could set the scene for your own success. 

5. Confidence is a key element of getting ahead. 

When playing Tic-Tac-Toe, hovering with your pencil over the grid and trying out each move merely gives too much away to your opponent. Confidently making your move without giving anything away is a much better strategy. 

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It is very similar in the real world. Hesitating and overthinking merely lead to lost time. Be bold and confident. Make your move. 

6. Opportunity can present itself at the most unexpected times.

In a game of Tic-Tac-Toe, sometimes winning is about waiting for your opponent to mess up or make the wrong move. Your opponent may not think the entire grid through and make a move that works in your favor. The trick is to be ready for the opportunity and to jump at it when it presents itself. 

It’s similar in real life. You may not be waiting for someone else to mess up as such, but being ready for the opportunity and having a keen eye for it will get you ahead. 

7. Not everything is up to chance. 

One thing that most people quickly pick up on when playing Tic-Tac-Toe is that it’s not really a game of chance. To win, a strategy can be applied. And it can help you win again and again. This teaches us something important about life: to avoid just letting things take their course. 

You can make decisions and choices that steer your life and success in the right direction. Don’t chance it when you can direct it. 

8. You might not be able to win, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose.

In a game of Tic-Tac-Toe, not winning doesn’t mean that you lose. You could play a game that results in a tie or a dead game where no one wins. It’s the same in life, isn’t it? 

Just because something you plan or work on doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the line. There will be more opportunities for you along the way, and there’s no need to feel defeated at all. 

9. Patience is imperative.

If you are impatient when playing Tic-Tac-Toe, chances are that you will miss out on a good move, or at the very least, your opponent won’t want to play many games with you. 

This lesson can be applied to life quite effectively. If you are impatient in life, people won’t want to collaborate with you, and you might just overlook some great opportunities because you are impatiently rushing through things. Being patient and calm will help you in a game of Tic-Tac-Toe and in life.

10. Sometimes what seems simple to you is not simple to someone else.

If you take a look at the Tic-Tac-Toe grid and see a game that’s quick and easy to win, keep in mind that your opponent may not see the same thing. The game may seem more difficult to win for someone else. It is the same in life.

We all have different skills and viewpoints. This means that what’s simple to you may not be simple to someone else and vice versa. The lesson is to try to see things from someone else’s point of view and not to assume that someone is “dumb” just because they don’t see things the same as you. 

11. Often, the path to success is the simplest path. 

When playing Tic-Tac-Toe, you might notice that winning can be really simple. It’s largely a visual game, and when you pick up on the opportunity, it’s simple to win. This can be applied to life as well. 

Often we believe that the goals we want to reach can only be achieved through complex workings, when in reality, sometimes simplicity is the best course of action. If you can keep things simple, you can win at Tic-Tac-Toe and at life. 

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12. One loss doesn’t guarantee future losses (the same is said for winning).

When it comes to winning and losing, nothing is guaranteed. Just because you lose this round of Tic-Tac-Toe, it doesn’t mean that you will lose every subsequent round. It’s the same concept for winning. In life, it’s much the same! 

The lesson here is universal. If you fail at something in your life, it doesn’t mean that you will always fail. It could mean that you just need to adjust your strategy, but there could very well be wins in your future, despite your losses. 

13. People make mistakes.

Something that is easily realized in a game of Tic-Tac-Toe is that people, in general, make mistakes. You could make a mistake by quickly taking a turn and completely overlooking a possible better move. Your opponent could fail to see what your strategy is, causing them to lose. Much the same, people make mistakes in life. 

It’s important not to judge yourself or others on those mistakes. People learn from their mistakes, and it doesn’t mean that they will make the same mistakes in the future. Don’t count on people repeating the same mistakes. 

Last Word

As you can see, there are several meaningful life lessons that you can learn when playing Tic-Tac-Toe. Consider the lessons mentioned above the next time you play the game. They will probably be quite obvious to you!

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.