The debate on whether or not video games are harmful to children and teens is as old as video games themselves. It seems to pop up every now and then and then quickly die, since there is little evidence to support claims that it creates violence. The truth is that too much of anything, even if it’s a good thing, is bad, and the same goes for video games. But regardless of whether we like them or not, they are definitely here to stay and we need to make the most of them.
In fact, according to 2021 research, the video gaming industry is worth $178.83 billion, which is an increase of 14.4% from 2020. When it comes to the audio-visual sector, it even surpasses the music industry, as well as the entire Holywood. And it’s no wonder, because video game characters like Lara Croft are just as iconic as some of their fictional movie counterparts. And it’s not just mindless fun either, because the high-quality storytelling of games such as Max Payne and The Last of Us has also found its way on the big and small screens.
In further defense of video games, are there any educational benefits to playing them? Let’s find out.
Video Games Can Help Develop Problem-Solving Skills
Video games have at least one advantage over other audio-visual content, and that’s their interactivity. The players are not passive bystanders, but rather active participants. Video games are not just first-person shooters or racing games. Some of them require you to get creative and solve problems, puzzles, and challenges, which is especially true in point-and-click adventure games such as Syberia.
Furthermore, there are older games such as Crayon Physics, which revolve around two-dimensional physics simulations, and require players to implement stuff they have learned in their physics class, such as mass, gravity, and kinetic energy, among others.
Because players are much more immersed when playing games than inside the classroom, educational institutions, and even the best essay writing services, are actively working on introducing elements of gamification in otherwise tedious academic practices. Even though Lara Croft is not very likely to stir up anyone’s passion for archeology, some aspects of the game can be used to make subjects, such as history, more entertaining, especially when combined with virtual and augmented reality.
Learning through Experience
Some subjects are simply not engaging when all students can do is read from a book. However, modern technology can help make even the most boring of topics more interesting when presented in a form of a video game. We have already mentioned Crayon Physics, but there are plenty more games, such as DragonBox Algebra, which enables students to solve complex math problems in a fantasy environment. You can also come across this approach in both real and virtual escape rooms, as well.
Other games, such as Civilization, allow students to grasp how society works, and things they can do to make it better. Learning by doing leaves a much more lasting impression on students, and the knowledge they gain of math, chemistry, or biology, for example, is better than them going off to buy a lab report online in order to pass the class.
Gaming Improves Cognitive Abilities
This works in several different ways:
- It speeds up your brain – in other words, players are required to process a large amount of visual audio stimuli and information. On top of that, they need to react adequately to each of those in real-time, as in the case of racing games or first-person shooters.
- It improves your multitasking abilities – in most games, you need to pay attention to multiple factors at once, such as your character’s health or ammo, their surroundings, missions objectives, as well as potential threats
- It helps you focus – this goes without saying, as all gamers are able to spend hours on end playing their favorite game. The trick, however, is to analyze what makes those games so attention-grabbing and addictive, and then apply it in the context of education.
Learning to Fail and Try Again
Some students have such a strong and debilitating fear of failure that they completely freeze under pressure and, well, fail. In video games, failure, although not pleasant, is just another opportunity to learn and try again. Learning from your mistakes, improving upon them, and redeeming yourself is the very essence of gaming, but it should also be the go-to approach in education as well. Overcoming the fear of failure helps students try out different things and get truly creative.
Video games have a bad reputation, and undeservedly so, just because we still haven’t found a way to implement more gamification in our education process. Once we manage to do so, learning will become a much more immersive, enjoyable, and effective endeavor.