How Gaming can make you Smarter
We could all remember the games we played in elementary: Game and Watch, Atari, Gameboy and a lot more. When I was in college, I learned about the power of Starcraft. It became so powerful I dreaded going back to Bacolod every summer slaving away till morning until I beat the zergs out!
But that all has got to change. Not all Video Games are bad. There is new knowledge about the games children play that make them more intelligent.
Enter Gabe Zichermann.
Gabe defines Gamification as: “The process of applying game design principles to non-game activities to make them more engaging to a user.”
So why is this important, well, for years we have heard the negative impact of video games to kids, mainly from parents who see their kids being addicted to video games and not growing the skills and education they should be learning. They feel like the idea of video games as an educational medium can’t possibly be a reality. Gabe Zichermann, and his theories on why children seem as though they may have attention deficit disorder and why games are actually quite educational for well, not just children, but everyone.
Gabe starts off his lecture with discussing a great game, which I think most of my fellow 90′s generation folks will know and love: Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego? Now I can splurge on how many hours I capped into that game, and how it was indeed an educational wormhole of knowledge for me growing up. I can also provide you with a list of other educational games that I grew up with that taught me a ton of life skills and lessons as I developed:
- Word Munchers – Word and Phonics Skills
- Civilization – Democracy, Resource Management, Diplomacy
- The Sims – Spacial Layouts, Finance Management, Architectural Design
- Rollercoaster Tycoon – Finance Management, Customer Satisfaction
- Museum Madness – History, Science, Physics, etc.
Now why is all of this important, does it even really matter how I grew up and what games I played? Well, no, but each of these games has affected how the gaming industry has developed itself in some way. The Sims proved that our limitations of our brains were only limited by the world’s we could create. Will Wright proved to the world that games were not just infantile toys, but methods of expression and creativity for our brains. Zichermann expresses this very well in his talk, basically explaining that perhaps the reason children these days seem like may have ADD, is because with technology and games at their fingertips children of this era have become immune to traditional teaching methods, because our world is too slow.
Most modern games today don’t come out of the box and state that they’re educational material, except if you count companies like Leapfrog, MobiGo, and V-Tech that specialize in kid’s educational game development. Modern consoles, however, not so much. Sure there are a few games here and there that specialize and overtly state that they are an educational game for kids and parents [ Once Upon A Monster comes to mind… ] but for the most part the console market is weighed down by heftier, meatier, more robust content. Does that mean that they’re not educational? Absolutely not!
Most people think that this modern era of video games is going to ultimately bring down the educational levels of children. Unfortunately, its not the consoles that are the culprit but the lack of motivation, creativity and cooperation from teachers in making learning fun. Teachers need to get informed as to how our educational mediums are becoming too basic for students. We have to make education engaging and exciting, and the way to do that is to introduce gaming of some sort into the classroom.
If you’re interested, and a teacher, you can learn about how to make your lessons more engaging, see this link: http://gamification.co/2011/09/28/the-gamified-classroom/
I am still not PRO-Gaming (I am afraid I remain addictive and wouldn’t try to get back) but having watched Gabe Zichermann, gives me hope that children and the next generation are not all lost. They just need some guidance and direction from the adults.
Get into the Game with your Kids!