By Neal - 10/04/2020
Throughout the years, video games have been accused of leading to violence and addiction, especially in children. However, some studies have found that there are many positive aspects to them and that they may even improve our cognitive abilities.
Since the pandemic started, millions of pupils and students were forced to learn from home. This unwanted experiment showed that it may be a time to change our classical approach to education. To capture the attention of the students, teachers started increasingly relying on game-based learning.
Indeed, it seems that the time of demonization of video games is slowly passing by. With the evolution of technology, we are finding novel ways in which they can be used for educational purposes.
At Solitaired, one of our goals is to explore how classic games can be used for education. For example, whether it be our Freecell, Spider, or our Klondike game, we’re using thematic cards so our players can learn about interesting facts and historical figures.
Here are 5 ways in which games can shape the minds of our youth.
The prefrontal cortex is the brain's powerhouse for sharp analytical thinking. A study has found that students who played Warcraft for 2 semesters gained a noticeable improvement in their probelm solving skills.
Furthermore, Battle Royale games like Fortnite constantly challenge you to adapt and revise your strategy, promoting reasoning and navigational skills. To be successful in competitive games, you need to learn to predict the players behavior accurately while keeping the ultimate goal in mind.
These are all critical thinking skills that have their use in the real world. They can especially benefit the students learning STEM subjects which require a logical and systematic approach to problems.
One of the most common benefits noticed is the improved hand eye coordination, which is controlled by the cerebellum. This makes sense since playing games requires that you sync your hands with what's happening on the screen.
A study was done where researchers measured differences between regular and casual gamers. The first group played 5+hours a week for months, while the other group played less than 1 hour per month. Both were tested via a driving game in which they had to keep a car in the right lane. Regular gamers managed to do this task more precisely, while also reacting more quickly to the crosswinds.
Solid hand-eye coordination is a skill that every student can benefit from. It’s also particularly useful for jobs that require immense attention to detail like mechanics, pilots, and surgeons.
One sure way to learn anything is by doing it repeatedly. Games easily create an environment where you can practice by trial and error, without any real negative consequences. This is difficult to pull off in classrooms and makes them a great complementary learning tool.
Minecraft is one game that has taken this concept the farthest.
This is a popular open-world game that serves as a blank canvas where anything can be created. Teachers around the world have begun to incorporate it for learning, and there is even an educational edition of the game. It covers everything from art, math, science, to design, history, and culture. More importantly, it does so in a way that’s fun and engaging. Source: education.minecraft
A recent study from Iowa State University suggests that playing certain games can affect our creative juices. In it, participants were separated into 4 groups. While some passively watched TV, others played a race car game, and the last 2 played Minecraft with and without instructions.
The instruction that was given to the control group was to play as creatively as possible.
Each group was then monitored for 40 minutes, after which they had to draw a unique creature. Their drawings were scored by how much they resemble humans.
Those who played Minecraft freely produced images that were most unique. This suggests that free expression can have a big impact on our creativity, and it’s easy to see how this can translate into education.
A more sophisticated example comes from Dreams - a powerful game/creation tool that lets you create films, music, and worlds. It’s a particularly good tool for learning game design, and a lot of schools have decided to add it to their curriculum.
Selective visual attention is a natural tendency with which the brain separates relevant information from the junk. A study published in NCBI found that playing action video games can lead to a rapid improvement in this area.
Having a strong focus is a prerequisite to learning deeply and this is also correlated with better memory.
As you can see, there are many powerful ways in which games can shape minds and help in education. However, it’s important to note that they are tools, and it’s up to us to use them to our own advantage. One thing is for sure, they are not going anywhere. So, why not make the best of them?