My son seems to be able to play any videogame with little to no instructions.
I just downloaded a game on Apple Arcade called the Survivalists. I literally would have had no idea how to play this game (even with the little tutorial tips) without my 8-yr-old. He immediately picked up on the system and how to collect different elements and make things from them. He just started telling me how to play it, having never touched the game in his life. No doubt, playing games with similar mechanisms like Minecraft and Terraria prepared him, but it still amazed me. Within a short time of actually playing the game, he had an empire of monkeys doing his work for him as I tired myself hacking down trees with what looked like a piece of flint.
I’ve had the game Kingdom: New Lands for some time but never really played it much. It’s got rabid fans, but every time I play it, I just ride back and forth through the 2D medieval landscape on my horse. I wasn’t getting much out of the horseback riding. My 8-yr-old started playing the game and then he said, “I’ve upgraded the economy.” I’m expecting him to tell me the GDP is booming, per capita income is through the roof and they have socialized medicine as I ride to the left of the hay bale then back the right again.
Of course, I don’t really believe this is instinctual. The kid has stockpiled hours upon hours of playing games and watching various YouTube personalities play games in that little noggin of his. Many of today’s videogames have a fairly steep learning curve, though, and it’s impressive how quickly little minds can adapt to complex systems of play.