Video games are usually treated like something contrary to learning and even as distractors. That may be true – video games attract students sometimes more than learning and can take nearly all their time. But, rather than striving to combat that, it may be reasonable to take a deep look at points that interest students and take those to improve traditional modes of learning. Video games can ensure more engagement in the learning process and ensure better results for a number of reasons.
Where does the Story start?
While considering this aspect, it is necessary to emphasize several points that are related to the views (fairly saying – prejudices) about video games mostly. The traditional view is that any video game is some kind of leisure activity, a hobby. So, the time devoted to such games should be limited per week.
It should be fairly noted that some games lead to raising violence due to the nature of their plot. And if such games are overused, this may even lead to addiction. At the same time, it is difficult to imagine a person who is addicted to learning. Perhaps, that is because traditional models of learning are boring or even dull sometimes. And they can be modernized thanks to using technologies applied in the gaming industry.
It should be noted that the matter of using games during learning has already become a topic of research before. In some classes, educational video games were used for decades! And this method has proven to be effective enough to provide good results. For example, in 2020, a study was conducted on how the use of video games in the classroom affects students' propensity to seek help with academic writing. The study showed that students who had integrated video games into their instruction were less likely to type “write my paper for me” and its various variations into search engines. Yes, despite the proven effectiveness of video games for learning, this topic remains disputable and frequently becomes the subject matter of disputes.
More Precisely about the Benefits of Video Games for Learning
Using video games for learning is an already-applied method that has proved its effectiveness. Yes, it is rarely used – again that is mostly because of different existing prejudices and lack of knowledge (or technical skills). For a more balanced approach, it is necessary to pay special attention to the benefits video games are associated with. And many of them cannot be substituted by traditional methods of learning. But, traditional methods of learning may only benefit from applying certain elements associated traditionally with video games.
- Players can learn more effectively from failures
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One of the most severe problems that students face during the learning process is fear of failure. Sometimes they may be overcriticized during studies by their teachers and family members. For example, let's consider a situation in chemistry class: a student accidentally mixes two reagents that should not have been mixed, and this causes the resulting mixture to explode several meters in diameter. If this happens in real life, the student is likely to become the object of the teacher's aggression because of ruined furniture, equipment, and wasted reagents, fellow students, whose things are covered with an incomprehensible substance, which is not necessarily washable, may become angry as well. If such a problem occurs in the game – for example, in virtual reality – the restart button eliminates all the “consequences”.
A player is placed into an environment that is not associated with that fear of failure, criticism, shame, and other counterproductive emotions. That is an environment where he/she assesses the consequences of one's actions independently. In this environment, developing learning skills and persistence becomes easier a number of times. You may be surprised how video games may be actually helpful for overcoming psychological barriers during the learning process.
Even if a player fails during video games, that can't hurt a lot. A person doesn't feel shame, fear, or similar emotions that may be commonly associated with the learning process for him/her usually. Even if such appear, they don't have a significant impact on moving further. And (what is important) such negative emotions don't lead to losing interest in learning how a video game works. The skills of keeping the interest in finding out how something works may be applied anywhere in life further.
- More Engagement
To play video games well, it is necessary to be totally present and assess the situation as it comes. This becomes especially valuable for games with different players from various locations (even countries) who play together. It is hard to predict anything in this case as that is teamwork where the contribution of each player is valued. And it is necessary to react on a certain matter as it appears to save and increase the chances to win.
That is surely more engaging. And again that also leads to developing valuable skills and habits. Those can be applied later in any other area of life where they are in demand. Our brain is one for all life cases. Even if a student doesn't like some subject or assignment, he/she can keep moving by completing that as in the case with a video game. That skill can help dramatically throughout their entire life, not only for completing study assignments.
- Reacting Faster
This benefit is associated with the previous one. If a player wants to win, he/she has to react as fast as possible. After some time, this becomes a habit, including in unknown surroundings. That is some kind of intuition.
This skill can be developed and enhanced through the entire gaming process and here is why. Any video game has different levels of complexity that are always new for a player. If he/she wants to win, reacting shortly to new surroundings becomes a highly-important skill to apply. What kind of study assignment can help with developing this skill with the same level of engagement? It is difficult to remember such, isn't it?
- Complex Matters Become Funny
Some study matters are complicated to understand and apply. It has been proven that it is impossible to make students understand any concept – such can be formed in their own minds by the learners only. To do that, it is necessary to have or develop abstract and strategic thinking and reflection. This is a point where video games may be helpful as they simply form a base for further effective learning. It will be much more interesting for students to learn physics if professors will use some features of the video game Postal as a visual aid instead (or in addition to, at least) of pictures and graphs from the book.
Another good is Kerbal Space Program. In this game, the player has to build different spacecraft to get Kerbals into space. What seems to be the big deal here? Well, nothing really, except for the fact that the game's level of realistic physics has prompted NASA and the European Space Agency to publicly endorse it – and this is the game of 2015! Now imagine what's in store for players in Kerbal Space Program 2, due out in 2022. It is possible that this game would easily be used as a training tool for future engineers of real spacecraft.
Educational games are good and workable tools to construct in the minds of students knowledge on how something works. The most popular video games gained that popularity simply because they were advanced enough to offer a simulator for developing abstract and strategic thinking, in addition to giving fun, of course.
- Enhanced Coordination
This is another valuable benefit of video games that can benefit not only studies at school or elsewhere but also the entire life. Any video game has integrated algorithms that have complex audio and visual stimuli. Players need to move and react faster to get the expected result. This is unlike the traditional videos where only passive watching is required. When navigating this game, players need to develop their coordination skills and move their entire bodies. This is an experience similar to the real-life. So, a video game is an opportunity to exercise as well as play.
- Better Memory
While considering this benefit, we skip, of course, situations with games that include violence. Nearly any other game that is not associated with this violent element (that has a negative impact on memory, in fact) needs the players to remember rules, objectives, details about their characters, plot, controls, and also they should develop strategies to win. That requires proactive effort from players who need to think about and develop winning strategies for their gaming experience.
And even cheating can be good for memory in some ways. Some people still remember what AEZAKMI, HESOYAM, RIPAZHA are in GTA San Andreas. Despite the fact that there are a lot of cheat codes in this game, some gamers could learn a few dozen codes by heart. Now when you can just pause the game and google the codes, this “romance of memorizing” is gone, but the fact that cheating can help you train your memory is undeniable.
- Excellent Problem-solving Skills
If a game is rich with challenges to overcome, puzzles, and limitations that players should work with to pass the other level or reach a certain goal, this game requires good memorizing. The funny fact here is that students may not even realize they are developing (or enhancing) problem-solving skills because they are simply engaged in playing this game. They are concentrating on the main goal for playing this game â€” winning it. And they think proactively if they want to reach that goal. Any good video game is designated for that, in fact, – to make a plot complicated enough so players could develop skills and reach desired goals.
Most games require players to track their progress and monitor a number of issues at the same time. It is necessary to keep in mind the rules of this game and its limitations, overcome possible challenges that appear spontaneously, and many other things. So, video games help a lot with developing mufti-taking skills that can be applied later in life.
- Better Focus
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This is a matter that is difficult to argue about. A player needs to be focused over a certain period of time. In many cases, the ability to keep this focus determines the overall success of passing a certain level of the entire game. That is a point that may lead to addictions, of course, if it is misused in the context of playing games. But, if the balance is kept here, gaming may facilitate a lot with developing the ability to keep focus for a long time.
- Speed-up Brain Activity
That is a natural consequence of playing games. If a player needs to solve certain challenges that arise, keep in mind rules, and do many other things simultaneously, this automatically enhances the brain function a number of times. Keeping in mind different points, interpreting those, reacting on those fast and effectively – how can the brain remain calm and slow under such circumstances?
- Enhanced Social Skills
Playing some games requires gathering a team, sometimes from different locations. Winning in this case requires amazing coordination between different participants of the process. Of course, it is necessary to select players that can perform well for a certain game. It is necessary to arrange good communication between all team members and ensure many other things during the entire gaming process. The goal of winning is reached only if everything has been coordinated and communicated well.
Subjects and Games to Play at School
If you are thinking that it is impossible to apply games for learning study materials, that is not so. Entertaining games may facilitate developing all skills and abilities listed above. But, there are also educational computer games for kids that are designed to enhance learning and memorizing certain subjects:
This is a complicated and cumulative subject itself. If a student has missed a certain concept or matter, that may be difficult to move further. Not all students enjoy Math – that is not a secret. But, solving Math tasks using apps and games may facilitate the task a lot. Again, here a student is placed in an environment that is more interactive and less stressful. It is easier here to understand Math concepts with less time and effort and move later to the traditional mode of learning.
Have you ever experienced difficulties with memorizing countries, locations, titles, and other things? That is not difficult if you decide to use video games for that. Most of them are designed in a similar way where there is a blank plot of a certain continent and a player has to place countries where they exist in fact. Also, players may be asked to name capitals or geographical areas. This can facilitate the process of learning the subject a lot and make an outlook wider at the same time.
Many students are experiencing trouble with memorizing all dates, facts, and other points History as a subject is associated with. Such can be presented in the form of stories or quizzes in video games and can facilitate learning that immensely. This is a more interactive way of memorizing key historical points.
Games can also help students with understanding grammar and other concepts. Video games may help a lot with enhancing grammar and punctuation in English. They can also easily facilitate the development of the style a person can apply later in life. Games may also assist a lot with expanding the range of words a person is going to use throughout their entire life. Learning synonyms is easy if you apply different simulators and games. This approach may be especially beneficial for those students for whom English is a foreign language.
Points That Parents Should Emphasize
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Even if games are productive at some points, they still should be applied wisely. In this regard, it is better to follow certain recommendations that can help with keeping the balance:
- Check the content. A game may be productive only if it is not associated with violent elements. So, this matter is better to check before a child has tried that. If you still see some desire to play violent games, it is better to discuss that matter with a child or even with a specialist to prevent possible addictions and other possible negative consequences.
- Play together. That is the easiest way for establishing contact with a child and making him/her interested in playing games and learning.
- Set the time limits. Playing any game, even learning, even very productive, should be limited in time to remain interesting and productive. It is better to arrange the plans of a child together and learn another important skill – planning.
- Follow the recommendation attached to this game. To make the process more productive, a player should follow them. For instance, avoid sitting near the screen, avoid maximum brightness, ensure your room for playing games has enough light.
Unexpected Outcomes of Gaming
Not all parents are aware of the fact that the gaming industry has already become an international and highly-profitable business. It is now associated with worldwide tournaments and is already known as the cybersport industry. That is the same kind of sport as any other that is treated to be traditional.
Video games are associated with lots of stereotypes. But, the learning potential of such tools is proven but is underestimated. Games may be effectively applied for developing critical thinking and focus, enhancing reactions and coordination, and also improving the entire productivity of the brain. Such tools can be effective for understanding complicated learning concepts in Math, study material in English, dates, and facts in History, etc.
Playing games is not only a way of learning but also a highly-profitable business already. Applying those tools is effective if arranged in a balanced way and adds far more engagement in the learning process.