Should there be and can there be a connection between video games and learning? Computer games have been classified as entertainment, but they offer a few brain-training qualities. Can a game really be used as an educational tool?
Type of Game
In order for a game to have any kind of merit in terms of education, it needs to be the ‘right’ kind of game. What we mean is that the game has to provide a challenge instead of granting instant gratification. The player needs to work in order to become rewarded for their effort.
Action games require quick-thinking, as do some MOBA games. Puzzles are like little brain-aimed exercises. Strategy games make a player consider several future moves, practicing planning and abstract thinking.
There are already many games online and offline that serve as educational tools. Starfall, among others, provides a learning platform for children, while Duolingo is a language-learning tool. Games that provide the user with challenging puzzles in order to unscramble vocabulary items, math equation results, animated history quizzes, and plenty of others have found their way into teaching children without them realizing it.
There are also a few games whose purpose was, in broad terms, to entertain, educate, and keep the brain sharp, but it also produced unexpected results. A game has been publicly available on the Foldit website, and the goal is to solve molecular puzzles. In 2011, a few gamers unknowingly provided scientists with a few small steps towards curing AIDS.
If games are designed with education in mind, they can be used for educational purposes. Otherwise, they are just a form of entertainment and should be treated as such.
As we’ve said before, you cannot expect to learn something new, or improve your brain if you are playing the same entertainment-oriented game for hours on end. Instead of improving your focus, the result is a dulling sensation followed by a sense of entitlement and gratification.
Some people use video games as a tool of escapism, especially if the situation in their life is less than stellar. That’s why some people struggle to find proper arguments for games as educational tools. Moderation is the key, though it would be better to say that it is a key.
How to Make an Educational Game
In order for a game to be educational, it needs to provide a challenge, while offering active engagement and a sense of accomplishment. Addictive games, like many mobile games with loot boxes, premium options, and time-locked tasks, use audio and visual stimuli in order to keep their players engaged, even if the content is lacking. This engagement comes in the form of fireworks, for example, giving numbers to show progress, and displaying trophies and praise regularly.
If we take those elements and put them to a game where the child learns more about languages, science, history, or time-management, among many other aspects and fields of learning, we can hope to make an educational game. Implementing these games through the official educational channels could provide better results in children.