Video games culture is ineffective, waste of time, and a harmful medium which teaches children to kill, are some of the common findings presented by several existing researches. Scholars have highlighted these perceptions on the basis of analyzing video games in relation to human behavior and psychology. Recently, studies have shifted their objective towards examining the good side of video games because of the major potential residing in them. Regardless of the evidence about the resulting in violent, aggressive and high risk behaviors among children, video games are proven to foster language and reading skills, along with benefiting cognitive and higher order thinking abilities (Chuang, Tsung and Chang, 2). Therefore, while looking at the veiled positive impact of video games on children, this paper focuses to answer an important research question which is as follows: In what ways does video game impact student learning in an educational set-up? In this regard, since video games promote development among students, normal as well as children with special needs can improve their learning if schools incorporate video game based learning. Since the previous studies have completely concentrated on analyzing the disruptive behavior of video games in promoting violent behavior amongst children, this study would draw light upon the way video games foster cognitive ability and other developmental skills amongst children via video game based learning in schools. The examination of the role of video games in an educational environment would not only inform parents about the positive side of playing video games, but provide, but it will also help educational institutes to scrutinize and hence incorporate new teaching methods. Consequently, student performance and learning would greatly increase because of the use of the new media technology. Also, the research in this spectrum would enable elaborate educational changes at state level and will also impact the game makers to assess the content of video games and develop new material that will supplement education.
The first video game was invented by Higinbotham (Herman et al., 2) who brainstormed the idea of a game known as Tennis for two in order to displaying friendly stuff to relieve the troubled people dealing with the consequences of the first atomic bomb. Following this, was an invention of the game Spacewar by Steve Russell (Herman et al., 5). Gradually, 1970s was a time when the video games which were previously limited to exhibitions and schools, began to be a part of the homes. The release of the Ping Pong game commercialized the newly emerging technology which continues to expand till today. The older versions of cartridge and rifle games have taken the form of CDs and touch screen. As a result, it was in no time that the video game culture became one of the strongest modes of entertainment media for children. This is evident from the fact that as compared to the four hours per week spent playing video games during 1980s, the year 2000 accounted for children belonging to the eighth and ninth grade spending nine hours a week playing video games. With time, even pre-school kids are seen to approximately play for about 28 minutes per day. The existing literature presents a contradictory image of children playing video games because they present a mixed view in regard to the time spend by each age group. Therefore, with 92 percent of the American children who play video games, the average age of the player is below 35 years (Gentile, 75). Regardless of the usage that differs across different age and sex, studies clearly reveal that playing video games result in a series of consequences which could be assumed by through the $21 billion sales of video games in 2008 (Gentile, 75). Video games are said to result in high risky behaviors such as smoking, results in obesity, adversely affects academic performance and gives rise to violent behaviors. As a matter of fact, much of the studies have focused on the negative impact of video games on children. However, with the advent of technology and the pace with which the era is developing, studies have started to explore the positive side of video games. It is the manner in which the game is played, the content, the culture and several other factors which play an essential role in determining the impact of playing video games. For this purpose, this paper would elaborate upon the recent shift towards assessing the impact of video games.
Although, the majority of the action video games that existed earlier are being replaced by new genres of adventure, fantasy and stimulation, there is a huge gap in designing educational video games so that they could be incorporated in educational institutes. Moreover, since it is a newly discovered realm, studies continue to investigate upon the usage of video games and its implication on learning. However, while looking at the advantages of playing video game in this highly advanced time, it is important to stress upon its innovative use in classrooms that fosters student learning. In this regard, a study conducted by Muhammad et al. (270) aimed at finding the effectiveness of video games in helping children learn about multiplication facts. Since one of the aims of introducing video game based learning in schools is to add in entertainment and fun in education, the previous method of memorizing tables was replaced by learning through a video game known as Timez-Attack (Muhammad et al. 270). The participants were taught using the video game whereas a control group was taught multiplication by the conventional method of learning. Results of this study revealed that the test score of children who were taught multiplication using the video game Timez-Attack scored higher as compared to those who were not taught using the video game. It was also found that the gender living and were not a predictor of the difference in test scores. This study demonstrated the effectiveness of using video games in a classroom to supplement a subject teaching method in primary schools. As a result, the video game successfully enabled students to master and retain multiplication tables with a higher level of interest and excitement (Muhammad et al. 270).
Similarly, considering the number of studies existing in this realm, another studied conducted by Griffiths (47) further elaborates upon the context of video game based learning in schools by using the Fire Department game which is a 3D game based on the real life strategy. As a matter of fact, video games do not only affect reasoning, thinking and various other skills, but it also acquaints human with the real life. Fire Department game reflects reality by incorporating the strategy of role-playing, by introducing the concept of safety measures, and promotes confidence and satisfaction via level of competence and the summary of performance. The result of this study which was conducted on third grade student shows that video game based learning was more effective in student learning achievement as compared to the text based learning. The study also portrayed that learning via playing video games greatly improved the recalling process amongst students and greatly enhanced their problem solving skills. This type of instruction method fosters cognitive and critical thinking (Griffiths, 47).
Furthermore, since video games have an educational benefit attached to it which has been earlier mentioned in relation to learning Mathematics skill along with polishing problem solving, confidence, critical thinking and reasoning abilities, other aspects of learning should also be reviewed to assess the impact of video games. In this regard, it is important to highlight the role of video games in educating special children at school. It is not only difficult for the child with special needs to learn but also it requires a lot of effort at the part of the teacher to formulate a varying strategy to teach such students. For this reason, video games can play an important role in easing this problem by improving the learning skills amongst children with special needs. This is seen by the case of Demarest’s autistic 7 year old child (Griffiths, 47). Demarest reported that despite the social, language and understanding deficiencies of her child, her son only excelled in playing video games. This was because of the underlying fact that the video games provided an ego boost to the kid thereby leaving a calming effect on her son. Demarest was of the opinion that video game visuals provide therapeutic benefits of developing language, reading, social and mathematics skills. The language skills are facilitated through video games by enabling children share events, understand directions and participate in discussion with the aid of visuals. The dialogues in the games promote reading skills whereas the counters and statistics give a boost to their mathematics skills. On the basis of these skills being fostered by video games as laid by Demarest, several educators and institutes have investigated and experimented on the ways in which video games ease learning amongst children with special needs. In this regard, several researches have used video games to help disabled children develop their spatial, mathematics and problem solving skills. Children with other problems of behavior and attention issues also benefit from video games as it supports in impulse control.
Hence, although video game culture has long been assessed for its negative impact on children resulting in psychosocial problems, violent and aggressive behavior, and physical impairment, the recent literature has diverted its attention towards the greater potential in video games with respect to an educational environment. In this regard, this paper aimed at analyzing the ways in which video games aid in student learning. The advancement in technology has transformed the form of video game culture which is seen to mostly attract children. Due to this emerging trend, the previous action oriented video games are now undergoing change subjected to a number of different genres. Despite this, there is a dire need to create games on more genres especially the ones which could be designed in a way to provide educational benefits to the children. Looking at the ways in which video games foster problem solving, language, social and emotional, spatial, impulse control, mathematics and other skills for normal as well as children with special needs, it is highly important to screen the content of video games to align with promoting such skills amongst children. In this way, not only will the previous concern of parents and the society about video games resulting in violent behaviors, educational learning would greatly flourish with an added advantage of learning and entertainment for the students.
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Chuang, Tsung and Wei-Fan, Chang. “Effect of Computer-Based Video Games on Children: An Experimental Study.” Educational Technology and Society 12.2 (2009): 1-10. Print.
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