Some might say that the games you are spending your every waking hour on when not sleeping, working, or going to school playing are a waste of time. Sometimes, when you are standing out in a forest killing boars for five hours, they might be right. However gaming, especially Massively Multiplayer Role-Playing Games can be crafty. Without your knowledge, they may just be teaching skills and knowledge that apply to real life. Unfortunately, that fire magic spell you may have learned probably isn't one of those things.
Who has never applied for a job where the phrase 'must work well in a team-oriented environment' was not mentioned at some point. Employers value it, being able to work well with others is an asset and can help you make your way to the top.
Like in real life, no matter how much experience you have, you won't get far or at least won't get the good loot without other people in an MMO. Many things in MMOs can be done by yourself, but try to do something difficult that you had trouble doing by yourself with a group. What happens? It is exponentially easy. Behaving like a bad teammate by stealing loot, pulling mobs, or acting like a jerk will leave you with a very poor MMO experience. So thus, enforcing that being a good teammate gets you further teaches you this important life lesson.
Learning the ability to work and deal with people will help in any group situation in life, whether it be working with a team at a job or in school. Sure, you won't be killing any dragons at work, but not everything can be fun and cool.
It Takes Hard Work to Get What You Want
In MMOs you have a particular mount, legendary item, or title you want. In real life you have a nice car, a big house, and a jacuzzi you want. Whether it be in MMOs or real life, it will always take hard work to get what you want. Games teach us that. If you want a legendary weapon in Guild Wars 2, you have to farm items and karma, diligently and for a long while. Unless one is rich and just buys it, another sad but true life lesson in and of itself.
Likewise, to get a good car and a big house, you need to 'farm' at your job and for a long while. This will be how it is forever. Any job that is worth doing is worth doing well and will pay off in the end. Diligence and hard work are the keys to whatever you want out of life.
Understanding and Manipulating Financial Systems
Any fancy business class in school will be able to teach you about the wondrous world of economics, but business classes only teach theory. In order to fully understand how the world economy works, you need to experience it. There is no more of a risk-free way to do that than with MMOs. They use fake money so it is no big deal if you lose it all on a gamble. Just go out and kill some more boars, right?
You could learn about economics by watching the stocks and commodity prices, but that boring. Playing an MMO makes learning fun, albeit you might not realize you are actually learning.
For example, MMOs can teach the bartering system, such as trading Inscription cards in World of Warcraft. You have the six of Cranes, they need it. You trade for something you need. It's simple and everyone wins. Perhaps you want to learn about supply and demand. Such as when a new craftable item comes out in a game. The demand for a particular materials used in that craft goes up, thus the price goes up. However, the more people supply that item, the more the price will go down.
Manipulating the market for money started in MMOs for me, and transferred into doing so in real markets. It is really not that different, but granted MMOS are easier to manipulate as all the information you need is available.
How to Divide Up Tasks and Setting Goals
In an MMO, you cannot just go for the main antagonist right away. You have to get some experience before you get at him. This may mean doing fetch quests and collecting steamy meaningless bits of other monsters for a quest. Regardless, MMOs break big tasks like killing the big bad into smaller tasks. As if you just cannot charge right into the big task, you will always fail.
This is a skill that you can transfer to your actual life. Sure you can charge right in, get a massive loan you can't afford and buy a car. Or you could put away a little each month until you can afford your dream car without any debt. You can try to get an passing grade in a class by studying a little bit at the end of the semester, or you can get an A+ by studying a little bit all semester long.
Once you know how to set smaller goals that build up to your overall large goal, you have pretty much conquered life. Just like you can conquer your MMO of choice.
Keep Moving Forward
If you are playing an MMO, you have probably happened upon an area you really liked. Whether it is the starting zone in Guild Wars 2 because you really like the struggles of your race faction. Or maybe you like the particular lore or artwork of the zone. What would happen if you just stayed there forever? You definitely wouldn't get anything from the game. Sure, you could keep killing things and slowly level up, but you wouldn't get anywhere. You need to move forward, to the next zone to do new quests and fight new evils.
This can be true in real life as well. You like your job, you could do it forever, but you'll never really get anywhere in your career. Once you reach your life goals, it doesn't mean you should stop making goals, you just need to set new ones. This is probably one of the most important skills you can learn from an MMO.