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Video Games In Education Essay

2251 words - 10 pages

Video games have been around since 1972, when Pong was released by the Atari Corporation. Since Pong, games have vastly improved in both realism and complexity. This has led some critics to attack video games because of their violence and numbing the player’s sensitivity to cruelty and death. However supporters of this new medium have tried to show how video games can also be used as a learning tool in the classroom (Aguilera, Video Games and Education). Through various studies games have proven themselves as an effective teaching tool and society is beginning to accept video games as more than just entertainment.
First the cultural and social influences on games must be examined. Squire (Cultural Framing of Computer/Video Games) points out that the majority of publicity video games receive, since their creation, has been negative. Most of the criticism is due to extremely violent, and grossly unrealistic, games such as the Grand Theft Auto series and Mortal Combat. These two games are examples of First Person Shooters (FPS) and their purpose is to be intense and violent based on the targeted audience age. For clarification, “violent video games” refers to games in the FPS genre. Surprisingly, very few studies focus on simulator games such as Civilization or SimCity. These have been considered major contenders if video games where to be used in classrooms to teach topics such as politics, public policy, economics, and law. Simulator games are built to force a player to think about the ramifications of his/her actions and consider multiple complex issues that all require close attention. It could be negotiating a trade agreement with a rival country, deciding if it is worth the resources to try and capture an enemy’s oil resources, or figuring out the right balance of tax rates and amenities to keep the population of a city happy. All these scenarios highlight the need to think critically and analyze a vast number of variables in order to make a positive decision. However Squire also makes the point that video games, at this point in time, cannot be the sole tool used to teach in classrooms. His study shows that video games are extremely useful to reinforce concepts in students, but we will always need teachers and traditional resources to actively engage students in the classroom.
Aguilera’s study, Video Games and Education, further supports Squire’s finding and goes into further specifics, saying that even simple electronic games are particularly helpful in teaching basic skills to struggling children. These include spatial perception, developments of inductive logic, and increased development of scientific and technical reasoning. Aguilera echoes Squire in saying the simulator game genre could be very useful as a teaching aid due to the attention to detail and far reaching implications of player decisions. Another study supporting video games in school is Willoughby’s “Do Video Games Promote Youth Development?” Willoughby pointed out that...

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