5 Reasons to Use Video Games More Widely in School

In China, students are banned from playing video games during school weeks and are limited to one hour a day on Fridays, weekends and holidays to reduce the time young people play video games. The new rules came into effect on September 1, 2021. From my point of view as a video game designer and scholar who specializes in game-based learning, I don’t think there is a need to limit video game play among students during school weeks. Instead, I think I need to extend it-and I need to do so on a regular school day.

Video games are one of the most popular media of our time. By 2025, the global gaming market will reach US $ 268.8 billion annually, well above US $ 178 billion in 2021. The money spent on the game does more than just facilitate a virtual escape from the real world. Scholars such as longtime literacy professor James Paul Gee have repeatedly shown that video games can be used to facilitate classroom learning from kindergarten to high school. Educator Greg Toppo reached the same conclusion in his acclaimed book, The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter.

Long history: The use of video games in the classroom is nothing new. Many who attended school in the 1970s and 1990s may recall the iconic video game The Oregon Trail, which debuted in the classroom in 1971. In this game, players lead a group of Midwestern pioneers, Lewis and Clark. The game appeared shortly before the video game industry was founded with the release of the electronic version of table tennis, the video game Pong, in 1972. Educational video games have been used in the classroom for 50 years, and while studies have shown that educational games are effective, they are less common in today’s classrooms. Many educational games have been released since the days of the Oregon Trail. The most popular ones are: Where is Carmen Sandiego in the world? , Math Blaster! , Zoombinis, iCivics, DragonBox Algebra, History Maker VR. Most games are for pre-kindergarten to elementary school students. Here are five reasons why you should use video games in every classroom:

1. Video games help students stay in STEM. In 2020, the Presidential Science and Technology Advisory Board discovered that the country needed to create a future STEM workforce. One of the reasons students quit or switch from science, technology, engineering, and math programs is that introductory courses such as calculus are difficult. The University of Oklahoma has developed a calculus game that can help students succeed in calculus. Studies show that purpose-designed learning games, such as Variant: Limits, another calculus game developed at the University of Texas A & M, improve the proficiency of calculus students.

2. We provide experiential learning. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, teaching students 21st century skills such as creative problem solving is important to the workforce of the future. Games such as DragonBox Algebra, where students solve math problems in a fantasy environment, help students acquire skills such as critical thinking. In games such as civilization, players can become citizen leaders and lead the country to prosperity. ART: At Mecenas, learners can become members of the Medici family, patrons of the arts and successful bankers. Students can learn through practice and gain skills and knowledge through experiential learning that may not be available in traditional classrooms.

3. Players learn from failure: Games are a natural way for students to fail in a safe way, learn from their failures, and retry until they succeed. Some games like Burnout Paradise make failure fun. In the game, players can crash their car-and the more spectacular the crash, the higher the points. This allows players to basically learn from mistakes, correct them and try again. The late video game theorist and writer Jesper Juul wrote in his book, The Art of Failure, that losing in video games is part of what makes games so attractive. If the game fails, the player feels inadequate, but the player can quickly redeem himself and improve his skills.

4. Students continue to engage in content: The average time students spend studying in the classroom is only 60% of their allotted class time. Extending school days to give students more time to study has been shown to be only slightly effective. A more effective way to maximize learning time is to use the time spent on the task. When students are interested and interested in a topic and it is relevant, they are curious and enthusiastic. This provides a much better learning experience. In the classroom, teachers can interact with students. But when it comes to homework, educators have to resort to other ways to motivate students. One way is to use the game. Educational games can be designed to increase motivation and engagement, providing students with more engaged tasks.

5. Games make complex knowledge fun: Educational theory states that students cannot be given knowledge. They build knowledge in their minds. Learners build higher-level, more complex knowledge and make it unique, based on previously learned concepts. The Periodic Table of the Elements is difficult for many students to learn and remember. However, learning a complex 3D matrix with 27,624 values ​​is easily achieved by junior high school students playing the popular video game Pokemon. The essence of the game is to find a way to combine 17 different attacks when fighting other Pokemon. Each Pokemon has one or two types of attacks available. Players will learn different possible combinations by playing the game, rather than by studying a large table of 27,624 entries. By playing the game, students gradually build in-depth knowledge of the game and acquire core skills such as literacy, how to compete with elegance and sportsmanship, and abstract thinking. Although Pokemon was not developed as an educational game, its design principles (and other popular video game design principles) can be used to easily design classroom video games that enhance the educational experience.

(This article by Andre Thomas, Director of LIVE Labs and Practical Associate Professor at College Station, Texas A & M University, was first published in The Conversation.)

5 Reasons to Use Video Games More Widely in School

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