With gamification becoming more prominent video games are an increasingly key component of formal and informal learning. However, many educators, parents, developers, and players are unclear about their educational value. In this study, researchers from Gaming Horizons interviewed educators and players regarding their experiences and beliefs about gaming. Based on these interviews, the researchers identified various tensions around the strengths and weaknesses surrounding video games and learning. Then they conducted focus groups with parents, players, educators, developers, and researchers to study these areas of tension and make recommendations for how to make video gaming more conducive to learning.
In the interviews, educators saw the potential for video games to foster skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking both inside and outside the classroom. Meanwhile players thought video games could improve motor skills and enhance attention span. Both educators and players saw games as being able to foster inclusivity as well as reinforce stereotypes, depending on how characters in the game are portrayed. Addiction was the main concern, with players acknowledging their need to develop self-regulation skills. They also mentioned the potential positive and negative effects of gaming competition.
Interestingly, no one was concerned about video games fostering violent behavior. They did criticize serious games for their lack of motivating power, and pointed out the need for educators to avoid forced engagement. Player motivations differed. Some saw gaming as a way to build connections while others used games to escape into a private world.
The focus groups recommended that parents acknowledge the positive effects of video games while also helping their children to avoid addiction through soft regulations. They also urged players to be reflective about the positive and negative effects of gaming, and to see video games as a way learn self-control. Additionally, they suggested that schools alter their structure to allow students to take advantage of game-based learning.
This study offers valuable perspectives from teachers, students, and other stakeholders about game-based education. However, it is important to note that the organization performing this research is dedicated to bringing the value of gaming to light.
Persico, D., Passarelli, M., Pozzi, F., Earp, J., Dagnino, F. M., & Manganello, F. (2019). Meeting players where they are: Digital games and learning ecologies. British Journal of Educational Technology, 0(0), 1-26.Image: by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash.