Electronic games are one of the favorite leisure activities for people of all ages and social classes, and therefore electronic games are worth contemplating as an important cultural phenomenon. The question now for educational leaders and principals is how this technology can be brought into the classroom.
When we discuss electronic games, as with all new technologies, social issues come up. People question whether they are beneficial or harmful to their users, particularly parents and many educators discussing the harm that games can cause to the social and cognitive development of children and young adults. Therefore, there is no surprise when someone suggests that recreational electronic games can be introduced as part of the primary school curriculum. One reason for this is that you will meet many teachers in schools who use serious games (or didactic games) in their pedagogical practice, but are skeptical about the educational potential of fun games.
The criticism, which has been repeated since the advent of computer games in the 1950s, was summed up by Nikki Hayes in psychology: “Games are based on violent concepts; children spend a lot of time playing games, and this can harm their physical health; and games are harmful in terms of children’s future learning.” (p. 223). In other words, many people believe that recreational electronic games promote violent behavior and isolation, and ultimately have no educational value. We believe that these concerns are not justified, especially if we take into account the developments of games.
Electronic games are a new cultural form, when compared to television, pop music or movies – the other major manifestations of popular culture.
Nowadays, games have not only evolved with the development of the right way to play. This was possible due to the interaction between new digital technologies and the Internet. For example, gamers can embrace gaming on their smartphones and tablets. Besides, new video game consoles Playstation 4 And Xbox One, which will be launched at the end of this year, will bring a new element: online multiplayer, which seems to be a new trend in the video game industry. This new element allows two players to play online at the same time in fantasy worlds.
Remember that game space war!, a game released in 1961, was the first game to allow multiple users to share a computer simultaneously. Games today adopt more ways of interacting. This means that players do not need to play offline only alone or with friends: players can interact with other players online. Certainly, games in and of themselves do not isolate individuals. Some individuals choose to isolate themselves, while for others, life circumstances—the recreation policy of the area in which they live and public safety concerns—have a strong influence on their behaviour.
Many people still think that playing games usually doesn’t make any big impact in the long run – other than becoming a more skilled gamer. But recent studies show that games can stimulate learning of facts and skills. For example, a European report written in 2008 on the protection of consumers, in particular minors, with regard to the use of video games indicates the following skills: strategic thinking, creativity, collaboration, and creative thinking. Accordingly, electronic games are a positive contribution to learning. Thus we see that the last two concerns Hayes has included can also be considered null.
We cannot allow bias or unfounded fears to prevent the use of new technologies in school. Certainly games are not the only solution to the learning or other problems we face in our schools these days. But games can help students achieve, as games can motivate them to learn content in many ways, engaging students, for example, in complex tasks that require processing content in unique ways. American researcher James G. is a pioneer in focusing on the principles of learning in video games, or what he calls “good” video games. In fact, there is already extensive research on games and education which can provide an excellent starting point for discussion.
James BG. What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy (New York: Palgrave, 2003), 49.
Nikki Hayes. psychology (London: Hodder Headline, 2003), 223.