Gaming in education…please forgive me, but I initially struggled (and still am a little if i’m honest) with this concept but the more I think about it, the more my appreciation grows. Having not grown up round video games and having had negative experiences of the ‘playstation generation’ within the workplace (lack of social skills mainly) my initial response to this topic in a recent course forum was somewhat, cold.
After watching the a TED talk by Jane McGonigal, called ‘Gaming can make a better world’, I certainly agree that the gamers of today display many desirable attributes of the successful student. Jane McGonigal divides her observations of the ‘gamers characteristics into four areas, two of which are:
Urgent Optimism…extreme self motivation…The desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle, combined with the belief that we have a reasonable hope of success
Blissful Productivity…happier working hard then we are relaxing or hanging out…gamers are willing to work hard, all the time, if they’re given the right work
For a person to sit a spend 20+ trudging through a virtual world slaying dragons (I assume thats what they do), and solving all kinds of magical mysteries, they without question show commitment, creative thinking and patience, all commendable qualities. There has to be some value in gaming within education…for a student to spend their relaxation time actually increasing their learning (which is exactly what gamers are doing just specifically about something they are intrinsically motivated and gain great pleasure from) is a complete win-win scenario, the question is how do you translate warcraft to the classroom?
The more I reflect and research I appreciate gaming is a ‘tool’ for learning, just as field trips or interactive group sessions are. Used in the right context or application, learning will occur. The concept of it being a regular addition to the curriculum at this stage I still find rather petrifying but lets concentrate on today. I come from a background in aviation where pilots have been playing games (simulators) to learn and practice, for decades. By providing a controlled environment with specific goals or objectives with various learning pathways to get there would allow the gamers mind to thrive and explore to their hearts content. I see the benefit, I really do, I just need find more appreciation. In education we are constantly looking for ways to engage the mind of upcoming generations, why wouldn’t we utilize something which they appear to enjoy so much?