I have briefly mentioned the educational benefits of video games in other posts. I’m looking forward to learning more about this subject.
Together, let’s begin a journey of “enlightenment” as we get educated. Thanks for joining me.
Before I get started, I want to know what the word or phrase means and how it is used.
What are educational video games?
First let me define the meaning of “Education”: https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/
- The process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.
- The theory and practice of teaching. Like teachers at college.
- A body of knowledge acquired while being educated. Learning from studying, books, encyclopedic.
- Information about or training in a field or subject. Health care for ex.
- An enlightening experience. Learning from life or something.
I really like that last definition of education, “an enlightening experience”. This sounds better than sitting in the classroom all day or doing tons of homework.
To be more specific, the educational benefits of video game provide learning and training to the players young or old.
Recent studies have shown that video games, whether violent or not can help children in the development of their intellectual and emotional skills which support their academic achievement.
Where and how are educational video games used in schools?
Video games used in the classroom can range from pre-school to university campuses.
Recent studies support evidence that video games can help kids develop emotional and intellectual skills. This helps promote academic achievement for our kids.
Here are some of the ways video games have a positive effect on our kids in school.
- Video gaming is a highly-social activity: Most of the time (70%) kids play video games with their friends in the same room. Many video games require players to play as a team. As kids work together, this helps in communication and interpersonal skills. Team play in video games can happen in the classrooms or at home.
- Video games improve critical thinking skills and reading comprehension: Subjects like history or classic literature can be a challenge for teachers. Keeping the attention of students is hard to do because of the fast pace society we live in today. Students learn to exercise their critical thinking, resilience, and creative problem-solving. Video games can make the material more relevant and engaging for students, even reading assignments. Students can put themselves in the shoes of a character or go to different worlds and different cultures.
This type of interaction helps students get more excited about the subject and it supports long-term retention.
- Sometimes video games can relieve stress and make people happier:
Video games can help tune out the stresses of everyday life. People need time to get away from the constant pressures we are under. This includes our kids.
I know for me; video games help me to relax a little more. I know it does not take the problems away. But it does help to walk away from worries even if it for a moment.
Some people relax by taking walks, reading a good book, or watching a favorite old movie. These methods are still good and useful. But our world is different now, especially with all the constantly changing technology.
If students can use video games as a stress reducer, then maybe they will be more relaxed in the classrooms.
- Video games are very useful for individualized learning: Every kid is not the same as other kids. They are all different. Each one learns in different ways. For teachers, trying to provide an individualized learning plan for each student is impossible. It is also a fantasy in the educational world. Video games make individualized learning a reality. Students can learn at their own pace and adjust according to their own performance and preferences. Jan Plass, an NYU Professor of digital media and learning sciences wrote, “By balancing gameplay enjoyment with an appropriate level of challenge, games have the ability to keep players in their own unique optimally challenging and engaging zone for learning”.
- Video games help teach new technical skill sets: Video games are a powerful way to get students interested in technology. Learning basic technical skills can only help kids in our ever-evolving digital world.
One very good example is the very popular game, Angry Birds. It helps teach kids basic coding principles.
Video games also improve spatial thinking (visuals/pictures), reasoning, memory, perception, and problem-solving. These are all useful tools in a wide range of technical careers.
- Video games gauge a student’s cognitive development and progress: The most common way to chart student’s progress is through tests and quizzes. This only reveals a small piece of how a student is doing.
Video games offer detailed statistics in real time. Teachers can collect data from gameplay. This can help to understand the learning habits of each individual student, especially with low-performing students.
Struggling students are often disengaged in the classrooms. These are the kids who need individual learning plans the most.
Most teachers think video games can help struggling students. In a national survey, 78% of teachers said video games improved low-performing student’s skills in math, language arts, etc.
Video games also improved extra-curricular skills in technology, communication, and critical thinking.
They also helped motivate struggling kids to attend class, pay more attention, and try harder in the classroom.
- Video games can offer stimulated engagement which deals with ethical and moral situations: It is difficult for teachers and parents to teach empathy and compassion. These two factors are building blocks for morality and courage. They can also reduce prejudice and racism.
Empathy and compassion are often the results of the emotional situations we are faced with on a daily basis.
Video games can stimulate these emotional moments easier than a book or verbal repetition. Video Games like Pixelberry’s “High School Story” allow players to explore complex ethical and moral problems. These games allow players to grapple with sensitive issues free from social pressure or fear of consequences.
Hopefully, when kids are in a similar situation in the real world, they are better equipped to figure things out for themselves and make good choices.
Source: Kara Loo, contributor, COO, Pixelberry Studios.
I am including a link on how some major universities are using video games in education like Harvard Medical School and Duke University Medical Center. This is interesting stuff.
Uses in Military training:
Gaming tools have part of used in the military for centuries dating back to the Stone Age.
Commanders of the Roman Empire would use sand tables with figures that represented soldiers and units in battle.
In 1780, C.L. Helwwig created “War Chess”. In 1811, Baron von Reisswitz invented “Kreigsspiel”. These and other games were helpful in improving military thinking and training.
Germans used wargames to plan the invasion of Poland during World War II. Japan also used gaming tools to plan the attack on Pearl Harbor.
As early as the 1950s, computers became part the military training. As personal computers popular grew, so did their use in military communities in the 1990s. Simulators like Simulator Networking (SIMNET) and Modular Semi-automated Forces (ModSAF) were uniquely military.
Eventually, entertainment games became tools for the military. Epic’s UNREAL 2 game engine laid the foundation for a very popular game called “America’s Army”. This game was very useful for recruiting.
“Full Spectrum Warrior” was created for the Xbox console for military training and was also available as entertainment game called “Operation Flashpoint”.
Video game development uses some of the most advanced technologies available in computer science.
Here are six technologies from the video game world that aid in military training systems.
- 3D Engines offer beautiful and accurate images that help stimulate players.
- Graphical User interface allows a gamer to start playing without reading a manual.
- Physical Models create virtual environments that accurately portray the effects of the real world. Movement, engagements, interactions, and sensors are amazingly life-like.
- Artificial Intelligence helps challenge human players. As AI improves, so does the ability of the player to defeat these artificial opponents.
- Networking helps connect players around the world. The gaming industry has created a flexible and efficient way to share data over a worldwide network.
- Persistent Worlds helps create virtual worlds that grow, change and remain active for years.
Gaming in some form has been part of the military for a long time. This is not going to change.
I hope and pray video games were not part of training for war. I wish video games were only used for fun and entertainment. But this is not the reality of the volatile world we live in.
If video games can limit death and destruction in times of war, then they should be part of the training soldiers need to be better prepared.
Resource: https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a550307.pdf Simulation & Gaming, 40thAnniversary Issue.
Flight training schools:
Flight simulators are a version of video games. They are used to help train pilots. By using a virtual world, pilots can practice various situations they may face when flying the real planes. This includes military pilots as well as commercial pilots.
It is a lot safer if pilots crash in a video game or simulator than in real life.
Video games are used in medical classrooms. They have not replaced lectures, but video games are becoming more preferred ways to learn than lectures. In a survey of 434 residency program directors, more than 90% support the use of games in residency education. Video games are frequently used to train doctors in surgeries.
There are challenges involved when introducing video games to the older community. Some studies have shown video games can be helpful in group activities by bringing people together. Video games for older adults must be adaptable. The games must be more than just entertaining, they need to be used as therapy as well as a form of rehabilitation.
Video games are increasingly being used in occupational and physical therapy. They are applied to all age groups from toddlers to elderly aged people worldwide. Some of the areas include stroke rehabilitation, cerebral palsy and other neurological impairments. People with tendinitis
and multiple sclerosis have been helped.
I think it is obvious that playing video games can affect us in so many positive ways. They don’t just create couch potatoes who play games while eating Cheetos all day long. Now, don’t get me wrong I love Cheetos, especially the jalapeno flavor ones.
What is the future of educational video games?
Some gaming developers feel this could be the golden age for educational video games.
EdTech insider Garrett Fuller says, “Teachers and students will eventually build games together”.
One of the biggest obstacles is getting this technology into the schools. Some educators are still resistance. Also, the costs of computers, laptops, and software can put a financial burden on some schools.
Video games should never be a replacement for reading, writing or any other methods used to help our kids in school. They are another tool for teachers to get kids interested in learning.
Times are different. Kids today are so advanced in their use and knowledge of modern technology. Most kids have their own cell phones.
Parents, teachers, and educators need to be creative and resourceful in ways never thought of before. The secret is combining books and new technologies together like video games.
Please understand, modern technology and cool electronic devices should never replace other ways to educate and teach people.
Reading books, spending time with nature, and talking with family and friends will always be a part of how we grow and learn as individuals.
Modern technology (Video games) is part of our world and culture today. That is a fact. But it is not the “one size fits all” remedy. Everyone is different.
I think the future of video games in our classrooms will be a positive experience for students, teachers, and parents.
There’s nothing wrong with making learning fun. Educational video games can accomplish that.
What kind of educational video games are available now?
Here is a list of awesome games for kids to help them in school:
- Scribblenauts: This is a word-based adventure game. Players learn to use logic, language, and problem-solving skills.
- Civilization: This is a civilization-building simulation game. Kids will be involved in decision-making, planning, diplomacy, strategy, and exploration.
- Magic School Bus:
Students join Ms. Frizzle on the Magic bus for amazing adventures. They get to explore different worlds like the surface of Mars, the oceans, the rainforest, and the human body.
- Endless Ocean: Kids can play different characters that explore underwater caves, shipwrecks, and lost civilizations. You get to identify and learn about 300 aquatic animals and sea creatures.
- LeapFrog Leapster: This is not one single game. It is a learning game system. Kids can play different characters like Batman, SpongeBob, or Cinderella. All the games are created to be educational. You can also connect it to a computer to download more games.
- Professor Layton Series:
This game offers puzzles that involve problem-solving, math, spatial orientation, logic, and adventurous mysteries.
- Dora the Explorer:
Dora has a popular TV show, a toy line, a book series, and video games. Kids join Dora by following maps and learning new words and facts along the way.
- Big Brain Academy:
This game makes learning a fun challenge. Kids learn to think, memorize, analyze, compute, and identify.
- LittleBigPlanet: Players build their own worlds and manipulate everything in that world. Kids get to use their imaginations in so many ways.
- Reader Rabbit: Players can develop their reading, spelling, arts, science, and math skills. This game won the “Parent’s Choice Approved” award in 2011.
Please check out the following link.
I want to mention two other popular video games that have been adapted for educational purposes:
Minecraft Edu is a classroom version of the very popular game, Minecraft.
Classcraft is an educational version of Warcraft which helps players learn teamwork and strategy.
I didn’t want to leave out homeschoolers. Below is a link for educational games to help homeschooling parents.
Video games used to train troops on the battlefield:
- Multi-purpose Arcade Combat Simulator
(Super Nintendo). This game teaches how to zero a rifle and other aspects of marksmanship.
- Virtual Reality Combat Training
(Raytheon). This is an immersive, open field, VR training ground. It provides different scenarios that soldiers may face in real-life combats.
- Full Spectrum Warrior (Xbox). There are two versions of this game, one for the public and one for the Army. The Army version has a special code to unlock the game. Players learn to command and direct other squad members.
- Tactical Iraqi (PC). This game was created to teach the Iraqi language and gestures to US soldiers. This training aided in the interaction with Iraqi soldiers and the Iraqi population during simulated missions. This game help reduces months of cultural training to 80 hours of video game training.
- America’s Army (PC, Xbox). This is not just one game, but a series of games. It has won numerous awards like “Best Action Game” and “Best First-Person Shooter”
- Virtual Battlespace 2. You can create a variety of battlefield situations from different angles. It also allows players to give orders to other squad members.
Want to learn how to fly planes/jets?
- ProFlightSimlutor. This simulator is amazing. There are over 120 different kinds of planes including military fighter jets. There are 20,000 + real airports from around the world. The terrains are realistic based on the US Defense Mapping Agency. The cockpit controls are based on real-life cockpits. This flight simulator is one of the most realistic available today.
- ‘IL-2 Sturmovik’. With this simulator, the player gets to fly planes that were used in WWII. You can fly a “Spitfire MkII” or a “Messerschmitt Bf-109”. Players get to engage in epic dogfights.
- ‘Lock On: Modern Air Combat’. Getting to fly in the cockpits of fighter jets is amazing. The speed and sound of these jet engines as they break the sound barrier is a blast.
Video games that are used to train medical students:
- Microbe Invader. Players assume the role of a busy doctor at an understaffed hospital. The doctor orders test, treat patients and try to eliminate diseases within the local community. This game helps students learn about clinical microbiology in a fun way.
- Prognosis. This is a scenario-based game. There are over 400 cases involving various fields of specialty. It helps students practice their clinical and decision-making skills in risk-free situations.
- SICKO (Surgical Improvement of Clinical Knowledge Ops). This game helps surgeons and surgical trainees practice surgeries in risk-free environments such as appendicitis or cholecystitis. Practicing surgeries in a video game helps surgeons make better judgements when they are operating on real-life patients.
- Medical School. Playing this game helps mimic what a doctor does in real-life. Players learn about the human body, how to diagnose various diseases, and what to do when treating patients.
Video games/consoles in nursing homes:
- Nintendo Wii game system. There are several nursing homes and senior assisted living facilities that used the Wii console. Games like Wii Golf and Wii Boxing provide opportunities for exercise for older adults.
- World of Warcraft. Strategy games can have a positive effect on one’s cognitive ability. They can improve social activity whether it be with other adults or their grandkids.
- Super Mario 64. There was new study using Super Mario 64 by psychology professors Gregory West, Sylvie Belleville and Isabelle Peretz. The results showed increases in the gray matter in the hippocampus and cerebellum. Also, the subject’s short-term memory improved. I am including the link to this study if you are interested.
Video Games for Rehabilitation:
- Jewel Mine. This game was created by ICT (Institute for Creative Technologies) research scientist Belinda Lange. It is a game-based system for people with neurological and physical injuries. Jewel Mine is used for balance training, upper limb reaching and helps improve memory and attention.
- Motion control consoles. Systems that have motion controlled options are Wii, Microsoft‘s Xbox Kinect, and Sony‘s Eye Toy, and virtual reality. These video games can be applied to any age group from toddlers to senior citizens. Stroke victims, people with cerebral palsy, tendinitis, multiple sclerosis or any other neurological impairments can benefit from video game technology.
- Wii Fit and Wii Sports. Because of the motion control technology, patients can exercise and have fun as well. Most patients going through rehab, can’t jump in their cars and go to the local bowling alley. Now, patients can bowl in the rehab center or their homes.
Please forgive me for the length of this post. I know there is a lot of information to read through. But I feel the subject is important. I could have added pages upon pages of useful info.
I know video games get a bad rap a lot of the time. Some of it is well deserved. Like I have stated in other posts, video games can be abused by people. Here are two posts where I discuss problems with video gaming.
As I have discovered in my research, Video games can be used for good and helpful ways. This data proves it. They can expand our minds, improve our health, increase our creativity, and bring us closer together.
I started this post with several definitions of “Education”. I want to point to the last one again, “enlightenment”. I hope and pray this post has enlightened anyone who may read it. I know it has for me.
If you have any comments, questions or thoughts, please reply below. Thank you for taking the time to read this post.
You know my saying, “Let’s Game”.
But I want to add to that, “Let’s Learn” as well.
johnny, the Grey Wolf.