Games, in general, and other forms of play, make learning fun. Attentive parents and teachers recognize this. Games beat repetitive drills and rote memorization any day. Ask any kid.
In particular, the question of video games to benefit learning has incited controversy with concerns regarding addictive qualities of electronic gaming, violence and adult content in games, and proposals to give video games cigarette-style health warnings.
Games at Home
Today’s kids play with electronic toys from babyhood. A large percentage of households have game consoles and computers, and increasing numbers of parents play video games with their children, as well as for their own recreation. However, many of today’s parents and educators did not grow up with computers and video games and don’t play these games which have become a significant part of popular culture.
Many children today play extensively for both recreation and as part of their learning activities, oftentimes simultaneously through so-called “edutainment” games. Playing both adventure, quest, and simulation-type recreational games and curriculum-based educational games with obvious learning objectives motivate children to develop the following skills in order to solve problems and reach goals.
- Read and learn new words
- Think logically and creatively
- Observe carefully
- Plan strategies
- Follow maps
- Work together as a team
Games in Education
With computers in most schools and consoles in some, teachers have begun to incorporate various types of games into their curricula. Video games are increasingly marketed with education in mind. Game developers, such as Relentless Software with their PlayStation title Buzz!: The Schools Quiz, have based game content on National Curriculum. Students playing DimensionM video games immerse themselves in a video game world while using algebra to complete missions. Online subscriptions to websites such as BrainPop and JumpStart have become mainstays for homeschool and after-school supplemental education.
In 2007, Sony Computer Entertainment launched its PSP in Education Initiative, offering PlayStation Portable consoles to schools at an educational price, and citing the PSP’s ability to download wireless pictures, text, and video, transfer notes and assignments, and access RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds, in addition to its use as a gaming machine.
Michigan State University developed a new academic program to teach graduate students to design “serious games,” video games with purposes such as education. Scholars at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Minnesota, and the University of California-Irvine are also studying the educational uses of video games.
As more video game players become parents and teachers, the current reservations regarding video games give way to further development and implementation of games for use in education. As the success of gaming to learn continues to prove itself, many parents and educators are embracing video games as an enjoyable and successful learning tool.