“Videogames are bad for you? That’s what they said about Rock-n-Roll too” Shigeru Miyamoto
“Every Maker of Video Games knows something that the makers of curriculum dont seem to understand. You’ll never see a video game advertised as being to easy. Kids who do not like school will tell you it’s not because it’s too hard. It’s because it’s boring.” Seymour Papert
Video games have been a staple in the Entertainment industry for nearly 25 plus years now. So why is it only now that we are starting to see the educational possibilities that they have to offer?
So lets start with the scientific facts first, here are just 3 ways that video games could help your kids learn in school. After that I will share three of my own personal experiences.
- Gaming is highly social: In some regards gone are the days where gaming was mainly a single player experience. Every major console offers an online experience and we have even seen a major shift in Online only games. With broadband Internet becoming a staple in modern families homes, we are able to connect with friends families and folks across the world in a matter of moments. This is a major break-through when you consider that some of the typical folks that gravitate towards games may not receive much social interactions anywhere else. Teamwork abilities are also put to the test, kids with good peer relationships are more likely to succeed latter on in careers and long term relation ships.
- Games Improve Critical Thinking Skills: Games let us step into roles and locations that we may not otherwise ever be able to be a part of. A matter of fact the military for many years has used video games to train and even assess psychological effects on Soldiers with PTSD .
- Games help keep things fresh and Interesting: Games get us involved from the beginning, rather than hours of listening to lectures. Players are given the ability to interact and even motivate students who are struggling with certain aspects of learning. A national survey found that games improved low performing students understanding of Math Language and even arts.
When I was in school there were two very distinct types of video games,Ones you played at home and Enjoyed as a form of entertainment, then the ones your parents bought you to try to get you better at math. Big shout-out to Math Blaster and Carmen Sandiego! There is nothing wrong with the games that are literally designed to teach us, I found that I often accumulated more knowledge from the games that weren’t necessarily designed with that in mind.
So here are the top three ways Video games have helped influence and educate me directly.
- Reading Comprehension: When I began playing games on the early consoles most took only an hour or less to beat. But as time went on dialogue became ever increasing. Around the time of the PS1 I was introduced to JRPG’s, I went from playing games with little to no story to ones that would feature many hours of dialogue. I remember learning words that most of the kids my age did not have in their vocabulary. I also began to learn more about Gramatics and would often spot grammatical errors lost in translation of the game.
- A love for History: History was easily one of my favorite subjects and it was easy to find authentic games that were historically accurate. I played alot of Real time Strategy games in the 90s and early 2000’s. From Age Of Empires, Total War games, and Civilization. I knew about the rise and Fall of Rome, Genghis Khan and Feudal Japanese long before I ever had a class that even remotely covered the subjects. I will never forgot a time me and my dad went to a Artifacts show in ATL, I had been playing alot of Kesson 2 and Dynasty Warriors at the time. Me and my dad reached a table where a statue of the Famous Guan Yu of the Shu Army sat at the end. I asked the vender if I could see the statue by name and even asked ” Is this Post Han Empire?” Fully knowing what the answer would be the face of shock and awe from both my dad and the vender were priceless. This eventually led me to study and learn more about WW2, playing games like Call of Duty, Medal of honor and the Battlefield series. After that it became a passion to learn world history, and Video Games have been the driving force behind that.
- Opportunities to Fail: Its important for us as humans to make mistakes and use those as opportunities to learn and grow. What better way is their to simulate failure than video games? They give us a unique platform to troubleshoot and make educated guess’s to complex issues. If we fail then we should take it to heart and use it as a lesson to not make that same mistake again. In games just like life we must learn to hit reset(Mndset) or continue and push forward through what ever the Boss or obstacle is.
I hope you have enjoyed this, let me know how you feel in the Comments below. I’d be very interested on what you take is on Video Games and how they can positively impact our Education System.