Impact of Digital Games on Student Learning

How will you feel if I say that the digital game you love most, can be added to your course curriculum!!! Well, although it will definitely take some time but in a few years, we can find students playing RPGs, MMOGs, and other digital games etc.

in the classrooms. It is already available on various websites, and various schools have started to use them as an experiment.

So, the first question that may arise is, are you serious, games have an impact on education? Well it has a very simple psychological explanation. We know that “change always creates some fascination and hence interest” and with digital games there is a lot of fascination and surprisingly, values attached. The basic impact of using digital games is one single virtue – “Motivation”: This is one of the most important elements to learning.

Games can create a state of flow, where the students are immersed, engaged, and willing to achieve the goals and aims of the activity, regardless of the challenges ahead, and it is very evident that this state of flow can have a very positive impact on learning. It is simple maths- Can’t solve a sum, do it again!!! And again.

Second, question which pops is, so, what exactly can the impact be? Well, Games can teach both academic and non-academic skills. Academic, we all know them, Non-academic refers to social skills, like teamwork, management, strategy making, decision making, etc. Now, these traits were normally thought to be exclusively in the territory of outdoor games. So, we are talking about a revolution here!!!

Next comes, what types of games and how? Actually, it all depends upon the course requirements. For that let us take a look at what specific impacts games can have:

There are many sports games, like Fifa, Billiards, Squash. One plays them, gets to know all the rules, and knows famous personalities in them. Result, increase in general knowledge. Further after that gamers are seen sometimes learning and gathering information when the game is over. Result, more team activities, more conversational skills, more reading.

There are many save the earth, tower-defense, and other games which can be easily incorporated to raise students' awareness on sensitive topics such as the environment.

Now the real anti-study-impact type games are : Real Time Strategy games (RTS), First Person Shooters (FPS), MMORPG (Massive Multiple Online Role Playing Games). These are high graphics, and also high rating on the hate-meter of parents games.

So, what can we get from them? Well the secondary benefits are team management between players, quick thinking, decision making, online forums etc. But the primary benefit from these “types” are design and development of video games!!!

We all know how utterly impactful these are. They may be lead to give software knowledge, working environment, assignment deadlines, and lots more.

In a research in California it was found that students using Alice, a game development environments targeted at students with no or little knowledge of programming, were more motivated to program; they spent 42% more time programming, and expressed more interest in using Alice in the future than the students who used a version without story-telling features----this experience emulated a working environment where students could collaborate, develop their knowledge-finding skills, and engage with communities in order to find solutions to some of the problems they may encounter.

Some games and related experiments cover contemporary events such as the Haitian earthquakes, the Palestine conflict (Buch & Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2006), the spread of infectious diseases (Neulight et al., 2007), or the genocides in Darfur1. Studies conducted with such games have shown that players had an increased interest in the topic, and showed more empathy for the characters.

Digital games were particularly effective to engage students with low self-efficacy (e.g., those who don't believe they can perform some tasks successfully), special needs, attention deficit such as AD/HD (Attention Deficit/Hyper-Activity Disorder), autism, or Asperger syndrome.

And, lastly comes some hidden impacts of them: they make you learn English automatically. There can be inserted an informative video, after every level, or quizzes for bonus level etc. And, last but not the least games and quizzes can help in giving sex education, as many a times teachers feel hesitated to take this lesson. There can be developed a proper game, to teach students about various sexually-transmitted diseases, etc.

So, reading these many benefits, one can easily say, why is the amalgamation taking so long? Well, one answer is that game development takes time. Secondly, it has not yet become so popular. And, well motivation to learn is not always sufficient to increase both knowledge and academic results.

We need to have a holistic approach. Digital games, are very useful and impactful tools and surely can make teachers more effective. But, then we can say, that even guns, and missiles were initially developed just as tools. Games have always been a knowledge source, and digital games are no different. After all, “All Study and no play, makes Jack a dull boy!!! “

What are your views on that?

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About the Author
Author: kumar snehansuWebsite:
An enthusiastic reader, thinker and analyst. He loves music, and novels and of course coffee. You can contact me on- kumarsnehansu at gmail dot com

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