White House Office Studies Benefits of Video Games By Greg Toppo

Constance Steinkueler is a senior policy analyst at the White House office of Science and Technology Policy. She currently shapes policies around improving health, education, civic engagement, environment, as well as many other areas through the use of games. This approach by using technology through the use of games in politics is new to the White House and her methods show that the use of games in learning is continuing to grow. Experimentation through games has been taken very seriously by many political leaders in order to improve not only politics, but other areas that improve and contribute to bettering one’s life as well. I found this article particularly interesting because i am a political science major. This article not only incorporates ideas from education 222, but also incorporates politics.

Currently Steinkueler has sustained her every day political role to research and improve education through games. She has been studying at the University of Wisconsin in the School of Education with the MacArthur Foundation funding. The MacArthur Foundation is one of the largest foundations that supports the idea of video games and learning in the classroom and funds for research to be done in order to implement these new visions of technology in the classroom. Steinkueler says, “the job represents an incredible opportunity to make good on the claim that games have real promise.” By using games Greg Toppo, the author of the article, explains that learning is able to reach multiple groups of people and cross generations. Games do not limit learning, they only expand the amount of people that can learn from this technology. Toppo explains that games like Angry Birds, that are casual and easy to use games on cell phones, show this evidence because people of multiple different ages use this game and are open to learning from it.

Research that i found surprising from this article is that the average age of a typical gamer is thirty seven years old. The Entertainment Software Association has showed these findings over research that has been done since 1999. The percentage of gamers over fifty years old has tripled over the past decade. I also found this fact surprising, however with new technology i believe that this is definitely the reason for people becoming more accustom to using games online and through the internet, as well as through the use of the television. Toppo explains that this research opposes the idea of the typical teenage geek that plays video games all day and shows that people of all generations play video games and are susceptible to learning from them as well. Video games are for everyone.

The ESA also explains that 42% of gamers are women which shows that not only boys play video games. These statistics used by the ESA show how video games can be used for all generations and all sexes in order to learn because everyone plays video games and would prefer to learn through a game rather than traditional methods. Although video games often receive bad press, they are key to learning and offer various skills learned through the vast content. The amount of video games that teach has expanded over the years and will continue to expand and change the minds of many political leaders. Even Barack Obama, who claims that screen time is detrimental to young students, has come to see the positive effects of video game usage in terms of learning. However, he stresses that not all video games are important, only the ones that are well designed and offer something aside from blowing something up. He also explained to students that he wants them to have games to learn from that are just as compelling as games that are not necessarily for learning.

I definitely agree with Obama’s statement about well designed games that are compelling. I think that the only way for students to learn is if the skills of the game are hidden or do not distract from the attraction of playing the game. A well designed educational video game needs to attract the player and keep their attention in order to learn. Putting skills into a game does not make it different from traditional learning methods. The game has to teach something and also compel the player at the same time, just as much as another game would, maybe even more if you want the student to play the educational game rather than the game with bombs, guns and killing people.

Implementing video games within politics only makes the use of video games more influential and the likeliness that video games are more prevalent in the classroom more positive. Steinkueler explains that by doing research with agencies that already use video games, this will allow us to learn how to implement them further into politics, schooling and society as well. After asking government officials who has been using video games, Steinkueler expected to hear about 20 responses and instead heard about 130 responses. After 24 hours she was able to coordinate a group to contribute to the government gaming portfolio that would allow more insight into video game learning. Steinkueler also explains that her video game experience has helped her to become a better leader through games like World of Warcraft. I found this interesting as this is my game of choice for the class.

Many events through out history have limited the amount of accepted game play. The Columbine High School shootings put a bad name on video games and stereotyped them as negatively influential in the behavior of young students. However, recently government and private enterprises have turned to games for learning, training and teaching. Because many serious games have emerged, this has influenced the usage of games in many areas that are educational. One example is the game “Foldit Void Crushers Group” which allows students to fold proteins in the most efficient ways and this type of game could potentially lead to curing diseases such as HIV and cancer. These types of games do not influence poor behavior that concerns many parents and teachers and compels students to learn without the negative impact of violent games.

This article can be found here: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2012-01-26/edcuational-video-games-white-house/52908052/1

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