Gaming in Education

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Why has the use of games in the classroom become a “hot” topic in education lately?

The use of games in the classroom has always been around in education. I have memories of playing games as a student and have tried to incorporate games in my own classroom. Every educational conference I have attended has always had either sessions dedicated to games in the classroom or there were vendors pushing the latest educational games. However, the use of console style games in the classroom is a bit different from the educational games of the past and present. Video games are a multi-billion dollar industry and continues to grow. Not only is  it a lucrative business but the high level of engagement we see in gamers while involved in game play has made educators jealous. Teachers are always looking to make our classrooms and lessons more engaging for students and when a student sits willingly for hours on end playing a game it shows “time on task” engagement and teachers have become interested in using this type of learning as a motivating tool. Teachers may also see the advantages of students engaging in other world environments and making decisions within those environments. Educators believe student exploration within virtual worlds can enhance current frameworks in their decision making process. Strategy games help students to develop problem solving and critical thinking skills they can apply to various situations in their real world, hopefully with success.

I was recently directed to a video on TED by David Perry. David is the mind behind such famed video games as Earthworm Jim (in which a bionic suit-clad worm saves the galaxy), Messiah (in which a rogue cherub hijacks creatures’ bodies to defeat sin), and best-selling game adaptations of movies like Disney’s Aladdin, Terminator and The Matrix. He has designed tie-ins for international brands such as 7-Up and McDonald’s, and now works on a group of massively multiplayer online titles for Acclaim.

A programmer since childhood and a lifelong gamer, Perry has a special understanding of the mechanics that make games fresh, fun, emotionally involving — and addictive. A sense of humor and a visionary outlook make him a sought-after adviser in the industry, and he also heads several websites on the art and business of game development, including GameConsultants.com, GameInvestors.com and the Game Industry Map. I highly recommend watching the following video presentation from David. Pay particular attention to the student video he shows near the end as after the video I have posted some follow up comments.

Post video comment:

The next generation of games will have a profound effect on our culture. As the student video ends he says… “I am not sure what the implications of my experience are, but the potential for using realistic video games stimuli in repetition on a vast number of loyal participants is frightening to me.” If we are to use video games in our classrooms need to be aware of the impact using this media could have.

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