Learning By Powering-Up

25 Sep

Mindless, self-indulgent, repugnant, useless, and time-consuming playthings that diminish intelligence and keep children from developing social skills: I am of course, referring to video games and what conservative parents think of them. The truth could not be farther from these statements and beliefs as authors such as James Paul Gee and gamers like myself believe that what you learn in a video game can be applied to the real world in certain situations. That is realistically speaking of course, as it isn’t possible to use a save point before a confrontation with a soon-to-be ex or take more than one bullet in a gunfight with an enemy and still live. Rather, as Gee puts it, “you build your simulations to understand and make sense of things, but also to help you prepare for action in the world” (385). From video games, we can use the same ability to critically think and carry the drive we have to accomplish our goals from the game into our everyday lives.

To help us accomplish this task, we control a character or avatar around a pixilated world that you level up and can distribute skill points to depending on the game. Eventually, “by distributing knowledge and skills this way—between the virtual characters (smart tools) and the real-world player—the player is guided and supported by the knowledge built into the virtual soldiers.” In doing so, “we can study and exercise the human mind in ways that may give us deeper insights into human thinking and learning, as well as new ways to engage learners in deep and engaged learning” (388-89). Schools today generally don’t have students very involved in their learning as they sit and take notes from powerpoints, lectures, videos, and articles. In short, they are without stimulation or engagement and feel less compelled to try hard and succeed.

By connecting something like a school subject to video games, it will be easier for the student to want to learn and develop concepts they are taught in the classroom. These concepts range from the ability to problem solve through critical thinking and creative strategizing to understanding something in what is deemed a “sandbox environment”. This name has been given due to that “sandboxes in the real world are safe havens for children that still look and feel like the real world” and help learning by putting the person “with risks and dangers greatly mitigated, they can learn well and still feel a sense of authenticity and accomplishment” (401). So if a math teacher were to associate something like defeating a boss with solving a math problem, students could begin to understand the need to critically think and find strategies around problems. It is my hope that teachers in the future will begin to associate such things with video games to stop negative thinking about games and bring more positive association that comes with the level of thinking involved.

Works Cited

Gee, James Paul. “Good Video Games, the Human Mind, and Good Learning.”

Common Culture: Reading and Writing about American Popular Culture.

Ed. Michael Petracca and Madeleine Sorapure. Sixth ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ:

Prentice Hall, 2009. 383-405. Print.

One thought on “Learning By Powering-Up

  1. TattooFonts
    11:32 pm - 11-28-2010

    Interesting blog, I bookmarked this website and will return.:)

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