Feature Story




Feature Story

Gaming for Education

Education and video games, two words you rarely see in the same sentence. But why is this? Is it possible that Video games help children to develop their reasoning and logic skills? Are video games looked down upon in academia? Recent games like Medal of Honor: Warfighter and Assassin’s Creed III are so historically accurate that gamers are now learning about things like the American Revolution and some military techniques, which are technically classified.

Medal of Honor: Warfighter, an extremely realistic first-person-shooter, was released in late October 2012. Ever since the release, there has been one main concern with the game, who are we really educating with this sort of game? Members of Seal Team 6 were recruited to help develop the game and make it as true and accurate as possible. Unfortunately the commanding officers were not aware of this and now the same members of Seal Team 6 are being reprimanded for their actions. What is the government so worried about? There were countless hours of coverage on CNN explaining that our government thinks terrorists are playing video games to get intel on America. As a former Seal Team 8 member stated, “we’ve been into Taliban camps, the only things there are guns and porn.”

At an educational level the game is magnificent. If you didn’t know what was going on overseas, you quickly understand the seriousness of the situation. In fact, every cut scene before a mission in the game has a little subtext that says, “Based off of actual events.” What better way to learn modern history then experiencing exactly what is going?

For a kid that has trouble paying attention in class then can come home and sit in front of a TV for hours on end, video games may be the only way he or she is willing to learn. You may say, well what is it actually teaching? That’s a very good question, reaction time and hand-eye coordination are key in video games like Medal of Honor. In fact, Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies in the Psychology Division,
Nottingham Trent University says, “research has consistently shown that playing computer games produces reductions in reaction times, improved hand-eye coordination and raises players’ self-esteem.” Medal of Honor and games like it are not so bad and damaging to young peoples minds. They promote learning in their own ways. Improving reaction times and hand-eye coordination and adding self-esteem boosts to some kids who might need them. On the other hand these games promote violence, which is a huge issue in itself.

Now, for all those history buffs, what can we learn from Assassin’s Creed III? Assassin’s Creed III (AC3) takes place in the early years of the United States, actually before it was even called the United States. You start in Boston, which is controlled by the British, and play through the American Revolution eventually forcing the British back to England.

Sound familiar? That’s because that is exactly what happened. AC3 is so historically correct cool history teachers might tell their students to play it for extra credit. Yes, there are plenty of fictional moments to keep the story interesting, but pair this game with a well-written textbook and this would be a class that everyone would want take.

But would it follow those dreaded guidelines known as curriculum? Probably not, so sorry but the kids in school are stuck with games like leapster which are specifically made to teach, not to entertain. But as Stephanie Kotch, Professor of Education at University of Delaware says, “Teachers are now in the field of "edu-tainment" - education that entertains.” 

Stacy Jester, a fourth grade teacher in the Appoquinimink School District in Delaware says, “I think video games help by engaging students into the learning process. When students associate learning with games, they are more interested and want to do well. Some games require that students score a certain percent before they can actually play the games, which promotes success before fun.” But, on the other hand she also states, “Sometimes they can be a hindrance because students just want to play the game and they don't pay attention to what they are learning.”

Video games in a curriculum sounds bizarre and far-fetched but the truth is, it’s not. Schools across America are already using games on computers to help with things like phonetics and mathematical skills so why not play the other games, like AC3, that can teach history? Kotch says, “To prepare students for a global society, it is a school systems responsibility to provide access to technology. Not all students, particularly in poverty stricken rural and urban areas have opportunities to interact with multi-media.”

For a school to offer video games as a way of learning may not only tech the children but also make a dream come true for the kids who can’t afford a computer, Playstation, Xbox, or Wii.

Schools are set in their ways with textbooks and tests. However as technology progresses and more research is done, we will one day see video games being implemented in places never imagined before.    

Should video games be integrated into education?