Video games have often been criticized for the bad effects they have on children and the associated potential and psychological disorders, but off late video games have become a great source of imparting education to kids. Video games pump in innovation, animations into the studies and make them much more interesting for the students. ‘It’s a fact that when kids play videogames they can experience a much more powerful form of learning than when they’re in classroom. (Gee 2003).’ The good effects of video games aren’t only constrained to the students but professors also feel inspired playing them. It goes a long way to show the importance professors these days attach to video games inspired learning when a professor like James Gee at University of Wisconsin candidly admits that people sought look up to games like Grand Theft Auto in the classroom to think about values and ideology (Carlson, 2003).
At a time when education standards in the country have fallen significantly there is an urgent need to look at the possible reasons behind the issue. Almost 40 percent of the students in US lack basic reading and writing skills, all this after the government spends a staggering $50 billion for education each year (Gee 2003). The conventional and mechanical methods of teaching have failed the students since they stress more on memorizing that forcing the kids to think and learn. Video Games are acting as the agent of change to this dismal looking scenario. Research has shown and proved that people learn much better when the feel entertained, when creativity lies at the core of the task, when thinking and emotions are mixed in the right proportions and when consequences of their actions are simultaneously observed (Carlson 2003). All these needs are hardly met or sufficed to in the contemporary classroom teaching while video games serve as the perfect platform to not only meet all these requirements but to help students learn new skills, invoke their already existing problem-solving skills and to learn to trust their knowledge and decisions; all these lie at the core of teaching.
There are several factors that contribute to video games becoming a good source and medium of imparting education. They hone several skills of an individual and let him/her develop new ones. Video games help one challenge his/her limits thus forcing the thought process. They act as a virtual world where a person can feel his abilities and in the process invoke thoughts, which conventional mediums often fail to do. As Gee puts it forward, ‘The secret of a video game as a teaching machine isn’t its immersive 3-D graphics, but its underlying architecture. (2003).’ The architecture here refers to the one in which a person needs to master one particular level to move to the next and more challenging level. This not only improves confidence but also slowly and gradually improves a person’s abilities to solve problems. This does wonders for students as critical thinking and analytical problem solving forms an important part of school curricula and hence helps them a great deal. Video Games force students to think differently, look for better alternatives by forcing them to adapt and evolve. Educators also find it relatively easier to garner and fetch the attention of students while using video games to impart education in classrooms. ‘For educators, games are not only a catchy way to appeal to the otherwise bored and twitchy, but also a concrete embodiment of pedagogical theories about interactive, student-based learning (Aviv 2005).’ The statement clearly highlights the importance of video games in the teaching process.
The initial reluctance to accept video games as a potent medium for teaching is fading away soon. Quite recently a group of professors across the country developed video games for their classrooms to dramatize science, history, politics and literature (Aviv, 2005). This clearly goes on to show how the teaching community is welcoming video games with their arms wide open. Though there are still criticism and skepticism. While some term the move as a totally gross and unacceptable, others term it as overambitious. David W. Breneman, a dean at a famous University doesn’t buy the idea of video games acting as a learning tool when he says, “Horsing around with these games might teach problem solving, but you don’t learn anything about the world. (Carlson 2003)”
There is no denying the fact that video games have made great inroads as a teaching media and have been getting more support from both the educators and students communities lately. The real solution to the education woes lies in amalgamation of conventional methods with the modern and latest technology to make sure that education doesn’t get outdated and boring. While books and traditional methods of teaching aren’t to be shunned and done away with totally, the system does require a overhaul and this change can be brought through video games. Games are not going away and that is something certain, but using them and their potential to come up with interactive and interesting things is what we should concentrate on. It is time to think of video games lead education reforms since they are the future. As Suzanne Seggerman, co-director of Games for change contends, “Using video games as a tool is newborn squirmy. But it’s only a matter of time. Talk to me in 10 years. We’ll be playing. (Aviv 2005).
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