Gaming to Learn

Most of you know that I’m a huge proponent of the power of games for learning, but I’m not JUST talking about video games, though I do include them.

First, there are lots of misconceptions about games + gamers:

All “gamers” are immature, teenage boys in their underwear: actually 40% of gamers are women.

Gaming = video games: actually, I would include what we traditionally think of, like cards or baseball, but it can also includes alternate reality games and video games.

Video gaming is a waste of time or just an escape from real life: all games, including alternate reality games and video games can develop resilience in the face of challenges, critical thinking and problem solving, optimism (because problems are solvable), positive social relationships (whether online or in person), etc. And the stories in good video games are just as rich and well crafted as classic novels and films.

Video gaming is social isolating: if you had been in my classroom while we were playing SimCity, the level of conversation and sharing was better than or equal to any other traditional activity.

All video games are educational: I’m not advocating you play Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty.

Want to learn more? Oh good.

  • Reality is Broken, by Jane McGonigal (also see her TED talk)
    • “My #1 goal in life is to see a game designer nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. I’ve forecast that this will happen by the year 2023. Of course, it’s not enough to just forecast the future — I’m also actively working to make it a reality. (And you can too — join Gameful, the Secret HQ for Worldchanging Game Developers.)”
    • Jane on the Colbert Report
  • James Paul Gee, Games in education researcher
    • Good article here: “How do good game designers manage to get new players to learn long, complex, and difficult games? … The designers of many good games have hit on profoundly good methods of getting people to learn and to enjoy learning.”
    • More recently here: “Digital games are, at their heart, problem solving spaces that use continual learning and provide pathways to mastery through entertainment and pleasure.”
    • (Better yet, put his blog in your reader.)
  • Quest to Learn charter school in New York City where all curriculum is centered around games.
    • “Quest is … a school that uses the underlying design principles of games to create highly immersive, game-like learning experiences.”
  • My SimCity presentation for Klingenstein
Convinced and wonder what games could you use in your classroom?
  • Math
    • SimCity (percents, budgets, statistics, growth)
    • Bloxorz or EDGE (3D spatial development)
    • Yahtzee (probability)
  • History/Humanities/Geography
    • SimCity
    • Civilization
    • Evoke
    • Geocaching
  • English
    • Scrabble
    • Boggle
    • Any epic based video game (analyze the same writing elements that you would for a book)
  • Science
    • SimCity (systems)
    • SPORE (evolution)
    • FoldIt (learn how to fold proteins – it’s fun, seriously)
    • Portal (great for physics and momentum)
    • World Without Oil (Sustainability)
  • Health
    • SuperBetter (alternate reality game)
  • PE
    • The LOST SPORT
  • Advisory
    • Tombstone Hold’Em
Finally, I offer my unlimited help in implementing this in your classroom. You might be surprised at how much you learn and how much fun you have right along with your students!

4 thoughts on “Gaming to Learn

  1. I found some more games that look really fun:

    CDC presents Body and Mind (BAM)
    – Ad decoder game for deciphering media. For middle school, it would be a great start to a discussion before actually dissecting some real magazines.

    “Scavenger Hunt Through History” Game for dates and events
    and “What Did They Say?” Quote Game
    – By PBS, what more do I need to say?

    Planet in Action
    – Using Google Earth, you pilot a space lander, ship, or helicopter. Might be good for geography class.

    Fit or Fat? Live or Die? You Decide.
    – Game called Fatworld all about the politics of nutrition and the relationships between obesity, nutrition, and socioeconomics. I think I’m most excited to play this one.

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