We already know the 21st century is an era of digital game-based learning (GBL).
By Game-based learning, we mean an environment where game content and gameplay enhance knowledge and skill acquisition and where game activities involve problem-solving spaces and challenges that provide players/learners with a sense of achievement; as stated by authors such as Boot, Kramer, Simons, Fabiani, and Gratton.
Also, the continuous advancement in new technologies poses significant challenges and opportunities for today's society. The new technologies allow immediate, accessible, up-to-date access to information and entertainment. The growing generation of digital assets has also led to new ways of thinking, learning, and interacting with each other in the social and physical environment. On the other hand, personalising resources and services associated with the digital age mean that personal characteristics, such as an individual's abilities or talents, are increasingly important in our society. However, one question that arises focuses on game-based playing is: What wonders can video games do for kids with disabilities?
It is extremely common to come across kids with learning disabilities. According to a report, around 6.1 million U.S. children have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Moreover, according to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia affects approximately 14 per cent of school-aged children.
Other than these, many disorders present different challenges to student learning. It is also reported that Psychology Today reports that around 20 per cent of Americans with phonemic awareness difficulties can struggle to read.
Answering the same, we reflect upon video games' role in educating children with disabilities, followed by some examples.
There is no doubt that video games are an attractive and direct platform to connect with children. They offer interesting human-computer interactive methods to enrich the learning process in special education. Moreover, games help improve social relationships, communication, and the assimilation of new concepts that improve the learning process.
Video games can help kids with learning disabilities in the following ways.
As technology advances, more video games that link one user to other users worldwide are introduced to the market. Like World of Warcraft, video games provide individuals on the spectrum with new social skills, eliminating the need for daunting face-to-face interactions. Gamers can learn better ways to communicate with others in a less threatening way, and they also do not have to think of things to talk about since they share one common interest: the game.
Assemble with Care, designed for children aged eight and over, aims at repairing sentimental objects.
The game is more about exploring different types of loss in people's lives, from death to tense relationships, and how people repair the holes that these losses leave. As its name indicates, the game brings a strong message of hope, empathy, and love.
Another game, Unravel, is an excellent option for a similar age group to help disabled children. Through a tangle of main threads called Yarny, it helps kids explore the nature of relationships in a slow world without right or wrong answers.
Games using visual storytelling, social modelling, and language patterns can help kids struggling with communication skills. Such games can help them with speaking, listening, and communicating.
Games like Moving Out and Among us are some great choices to make. The former game turns everyone's most-dreaded request- a mate asking another player to help them move- into a lot of fun. It is designed to be played cooperatively on a shared screen; the game is physics-based, so you can apply real-world rules to navigate the environment.
The later game, Among Us, for kids above ten years, is an action/strategy game set in space that has it all: deception, deduction, confusion, and plenty of humour. It is played with a crew of 4 to 10 players who can play together. This game helps promote teamwork, working toward a goal, and helping others under challenging circumstances.
It is common for autistic individuals to fear or experience extreme stress while making mistakes in life. Nevertheless, it is not that we all do not commit mistakes, and it is necessary to add while playing video games—if you did not, you would immediately win the game, which would not be fun. As a result, letting people with autism play video games helps them become more comfortable with the idea of not being perfect, which is a beneficial skill for transmission to the real world.
Many people lack mobility, but playing video games can help them improve because it requires physical movement. Game systems like the Nintendo Wii oblige you to act on the actions you want your virtual character to do in the game; therefore, players need to learn to control their bodies. Other games, such as those involving a touch screen, may help people on the spectrum with fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination.
For instance, Just Dance 2021 lets players get physically active with their dance moves while it teaches music appreciation, choreography, and rhythm. In the game, players use movement controls and a mobile app to imitate onscreen choreography over time with any of the game's 40 pop songs.
Another example, Ring Fit Adventure, helps make headway in this fitness adventure game; players need to get physically active. Kids explore a big world and use exercises like jogging on-site, sit-ups, and yoga poses to defeat their enemies. Animated pictures on the screen show the proper shape, while tips on nutrition and fitness play throughout the game.
People with autism may be rigid in approaching problems and how they go about their day-to-day routines. Many teachers and therapists who work with autistic people are trying to make them more flexible and accept changes in their surroundings, and a way to do this is through video games. Players will quickly learn that they must adjust their strategy to each passing level of the game; otherwise, they will not be able to move past it. Each new level or round of video games comes with a unique challenge, which forces the gamer to think about every possible solution to the problem. Putting children or adults with autism into these situations will be uncomfortable for them initially. However, if they still want to play the game, they will have no choice but to become more flexible in their thinking. Over time, it will help people improve their problem-solving skills and handle change more graciously in the real world.
For kids who struggle with executive functioning, developing new routines, transitioning activities, and managing time are challenges. However, games emphasising visual scheduling and breaking big jobs into smaller tasks can greatly help. Games such as Disaster Hero visually demonstrate what to do in an emergency. Ultimately, players become self-sufficient by knowing the recommended steps for planning, anticipation and responding to a natural disaster. In other games, such as Engineering.com Games, with roughly 100 engineering, physics, aerospace and logic games, children can find plenty of opportunities to apply skills such as decision-making, deduction and prediction that help them better understand sequential directions. Super Mario Maker can help kids learn step by step the processes as they use the stylus of the Wii U GamePad to design, create and share their own Super Mario adventures.
Reading and Writing
Videogames that focus on verbal and written instructions break down directions into small steps and focus on the player's strengths; it can help improve reading and writing skills. Elegy for a Dead World is an accessible narrative game that gives children the freedom to write what they want using invites or imagination. Other games like Mia Reading: The Bugaboo Bugs, with 12 learning activities and four levels of difficulty, take kids on a super-engaging learning adventure that covers a wide range of literacy basics, including associating words with images, phonics, spelling, sentence structure, and more are also great that honing reading and writing skills of kids.
We are already aware that digital formats are more accessible than in-person visits. In addition, today's children are generally knowledgeable about technology and digital devices, so they are less resistant to digital therapies than traditional therapies. Additionally, when video games are readily available, repetition is enabled. Repetition of a learning activity assists children with learning disabilities develop knowledge and new skills.
Video games are generally more fun for kids than traditional learning interventions. As a result, video games are highly attractive for learning among school-aged children with learning difficulties. Children are willing to spend more time practising new skills on one device than with other learning tools because that adds fun to learning.
Digital tools like video games can help children with learning disabilities create realistic and interactive environments. Video games promote cognitive processes by drawing children's attention through stimulating activities they enjoy doing.
Another benefit of video games -interactivity is another benefit of video games for people with learning difficulties. Many games are available online, allowing mental health practitioners, educators and others to remotely monitor a child's progress and adjustments, such as adjusting goals. Interactive video games promote social behaviour, competitiveness and motivation by connecting players online.
Few Video Games act like Therapy Tools, for instance, AKL-T01. It is an investigational digital therapy that targets attention and cognitive control symptoms. Learners get a high-end video game experience that keeps them engaged and immersed through music, storytelling, and reward cycles.