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  • Jeremy Cawili

Gaming for learning

There have been many debates that argue whether or not online gaming can actually provide valuable learning experiences. It is often suggested that they are simply a means of entertainment, and that nothing of real significance and value can be gained from gaming. However, there are in fact many important learning skills and abilities that can be gained from online gaming. This holds true for both leisure games such as Call of Duty and Minecraft, and games specifically designed with “educational purposes or cognitive training in mind”, much like the Self-Improvement Game (SIG) (Ashinoff).

In his article, “The potential of video games as a pedagogical tool”, Brandon K. Ashinoff suggests that video games have the “potential [to] facilitate significant learning” and enhance the learning experience overall. He stated that there are many people who are able to recall a lot of information about Pokemon who probably can’t do the same for the periodic table of elements. This shows that video games can be a great medium to promote the learning process, and incorporating games in settings such as school can make learning more approachable, engaging, and enjoyable. Ashinoff proceeded to say that video games in of itself are “designed effectively to be learning machines”. Video games usually begin with a tutorial that teaches the player the basics and how the game works. As a player goes on, the strategies and tactics “become more complex while the teaching method gradually switches from an explicit tutorial to an experience based process”. The game teaches the player how to use attained skills and knowledge to navigate through various problems and scenarios, naturally requiring critical thinking and evaluation to select the best course of action.

Another article, by Lisa Bowen explaining the benefits of video games, states that playing them can “strengthen a range of cognitive skills such as spatial navigation, reasoning, memory and perception” . She added that playing such games improved one’s capacity to think in different dimensions “just as well as academic courses designed to enhance these same skills [can]”. Bowen also explains how many of these games are “virtual social communities” where players have the ability to make decisions about whom they should associate with, or how to lead a group.

Many of the benefits discussed can be seen when playing SIG. SIG is an educational, role-playing game that teaches players how to improve individual and group skills while working in an office environment. Just as Ashinoff stated, SIG, the Team Building Game, and others designed and developed by Ignite Learning Technology can facilitate learning as it is a video game, which can be more approachable, engaging, and fun than traditional ways of learning. The game is a “learning machine”, requiring the player to think critically to choose the best responses for different situations. To Bowen’s point, while SIG is not a multiplayer game, players are still learning how to lead in a social space. Players can also develop reasoning skills, perception skills, and more. There are many ways video games can be a valuable pedagogical tool. While there are negative effects to online gaming, the educational benefits certainly cannot be ignored.

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