Education and the Future of Video Games by Amanda Winstead

Ed & Video Games

Education and the Future of Video Games by Amanda Winstead

looks at how video games have impacted education and what the future may hold. It’s an article that all parents and educators should read. Thanks, Amanda.

  • It’s been highly accepted that video games can help children learn. The educational benefits of gaming have been found to increase everything from learning skills to social interactions. Unfortunately, even though there are an estimated 51.1 million kids under the age of 18 who consider themselves “gamers,” there are still a lot of negative stereotypes surrounding video games that need to be squashed.
  • That’s especially true when it comes to their impact on learning. When video games are accepted and embraced for their full academic potential, they can reach kids and adults both in new and innovative ways, educating them in ways that more “traditional” methods can’t. So, how should games be utilized by parents and teachers, and what should we expect from the future of video games as it pertains to education?

An Outlet for Visual Learners

  • One of the biggest benefits video games can have is that they’re often accessible to everyone. Most games are easy for people to pick up and understand right away, and that includes educational games. When kids, especially, are playing a game, they don’t necessarily realize they might be learning something at the same time. For visual and sensory learners, games can make a huge difference in how they absorb and apply things.
  • Video games tend to appeal to visual learners because they:
  • Organize information in a way that’s easier to understand
    Visualize complex ideas
    Improve attention
    Increase information retention

  • Some games and apps are specifically designed for educational purposes, like Duolingo or Math Snacks. But, there are some games your kids/students might already play for fun that can be used to educate them in different areas, too. Some of the best “hidden” educational games include:
  • Minecraft – Encourages problem-solving skills, reading, and math
    Oregon Trail – Teaches about historical events while requiring critical thinking skills
    Portal – Focuses on using math, science, logic, and physics
    Eloh – Teaches basic trigonometry skills

  • Take an interest in which games your kids or students are already playing. Chances are, you might be able to find some educational purpose in it, so you can work with your kids to highlight those things while they’re enjoying their gameplay. Whether you’re trying to work with a visual learner or someone who needs a more hands-on, immersive approach, meeting them with a game they already enjoy or introducing something you think they’ll like is a great way to further their educational growth.

Learning Life Skills

  • Video games don’t usually focus on one subject unless they’re games specifically designed for an educational setting. But, many of today’s games can teach long-lasting life skills. Some of the real-world skills both kids and adults can pick up on by regularly playing include:
  • Learning how to take and manage risks
    Critical thinking

  • Those are skills that can translate into countless careers, including multiple positions in the business industry. People have used games like Monopoly to learn different strategies and problem-solving skills for years. The right video games, when applied in a certain direction, can do the same things.
  • Many gamers end up going into careers as graphic designers, computer programmers, audio engineers, or even writing. Growing up loving every aspect of gaming can quickly become an inspiration. Those are all careers that require a lot of skill, time, and education. Most importantly, though, they require experience and passion. Not only does gaming teach valuable life skills, but it can inspire people from a young age to step up to educational challenges and take on difficult career paths so they can contribute something back to the gaming world.

Ed & Video Games 2
Pictures Curtosy of Unsplash – @unsplash

There Are No “Lazy Games”

  • Beyond preparing children (and adults) for the future, video games have instant educational and developmental benefits. The cognitive benefits of video games include:
  • Improved concentration
    Better hand-eye coordination
    Memory enhancement
    Improved focus
    Multitasking skills
    Faster brain function

  • With that, it’s important to get rid of the stigma surrounding video games that suggests they are mind-numbing or require little to no thought. Additionally, it’s time to abolish the idea that video games make people lazy.
  • Multiple studies have shown that people who play video games can be more inclined to stay physically active and take better care of themselves. That’s largely because video games can improve your mood and boost your mental well-being. Gamers are often less stressed and happier. When you’re in a good mood and have more energy, it’s easier to want to exercise and be more physical. Gaming can also help to boost your confidence in whatever physical activity you’re doing, making it more likely that you’ll stick with it.
  • Physical and mental health go hand-in-hand. Your mental health state can impact your physical health, and when you’re feeling sick, tired, or fatigued, your mental health is likely to suffer. So, boosting your mental well-being through games is a great way to also make sure your physical health remains a priority. That’s especially important for the growth, development, and well-roundedness of school-aged children.

The Future of Video Games and Education

  • By now, you’re probably at least more convinced about the effectiveness of video games in an educational setting than you were before you started reading. But, what does the future hold for video games? Specifically, what do the advancements in technology and gaming mean for parents and teachers who are eager to use them?
  • First, it’s important to understand the popularity of different game genres, and how they might change over time.
  • Role-playing games, for example, are exceedingly popular with kids and adults. Some of the most widely-known include EverQuest and Elder Scrolls. What’s great about games like these is that they allow players to experience “real-world” situations (even in fantasy settings) by problem-solving and trying different techniques to make their way through virtual worlds. In recent years, many RPGs have gone online. That has opened up even greater opportunities for boosting communication and team-building skills. The technology used to connect players around the globe will undoubtedly continue to advance and become more fluid. It’s a great way for kids to learn about other cultures while doing something they love.
  • With the rise in things like AI and virtual reality, simulation games will also undoubtedly be used more frequently for educational purposes. Simulation games can improve general life skills like controlling the basic needs of fictional characters. They can also teach very specific skills using science, engineering, math, and so much more. Because of the way virtual reality is advancing, students who tend to be hands-on learners can gain a lot from playing simulation games.
  • Whether you’re a parent or teacher, it’s important to consider how beneficial video games can be. They’re designed for entertainment, of course. Even educational games are meant to be fun and captivating.
  • But, mainstream games can often be used to serve different educational purposes. By shifting your perspective on gaming and understanding how regular play can be educational, you can use them to your advantage as an educational tool.
  • The future of education and video games together widely depends on how well video games will be accepted as learning tools. Now that you know some of the benefits (and there are more!), you can start a trend of your own in your local school, community, or even at home by using games to further your child’s development and improve their general life skills.

Amanda Winstead

  • Amanda is a freelance writer out of Portland focusing on many topics including educational technology. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.
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