Videogames in every aspect of life?

To be honest when I saw this video (http://www.todaysbigthing.com/2011/02/15) I thought it was hilarious that someone could take a videogame quite so literally. But it got me thinking, videogames are useful for practically EVERY type of learning, even outside the classroom.

For example when Eric Klopfer was speaking today about how mobile learning can  be applied to many aspects of biology, it got me thinking about taking these types of games outside the classroom as presented by Jerry Heneghan.

Specifically, it would be beneficial to play games similar to MarioKart (minus the shells) so that beginner students can get a taste of what it feels like to be behind the wheel and truly learn the rules of the road before hand. Would it really be so crazy to offer simulations or games for soon-to-be parents to learn how to properly take care of a new born? Or maybe even use a videogame to teach new athletes the rules and proper formations for certain sports?

With my interest in medicine, I think that the benefits found in learning through videogames may be easily applied to doctor/patient relationships. What if a patient could play a game enacting the surgery they are to undergo? Or play a game like the sims which teaches them how to appropriately practice recovery exercises? The former sounds a bit morbid, but it seems that information is power. Often times when a doctor is explaining a complicated procedure to a patient, it is easy for the patient to become lost in the charts, one dimensional diagrams and stats. In my own experience as a patient, all I could picture in my head when a surgery technique was being explained was the game of Operation. What if patients could be walked through the procedure via a game to see exactly what steps will be taken to help their ailment? Or even further, what if they could compare procedures to see which fits their preferences best (ie, invasive or not)?

Besides, wouldn’t it be great to have a game for EVERYTHING?

Sure a gaming education sounds good, but where do we go from here?

In my recent trip to the Digital Ops, I was thoroughly intrigued with how certain types of games encouraged different types of behaviors in its players. The Ship was certainly a game that was solely played for individual gain. I found myself fumbling about trying to figure out the keys while being pummeled to death by another player with a mannequin arm. Though it seemed frustrating, I felt a certain determination to continue in the game, attempt to master the controls and most importantly – not give up. Left 4 Dead had interesting team components and was certainly a good model for team-work and leadership. All these characteristics combined made for a seemingly great educational experience in the classroom, that is, until I got overwhelmingly nauseated by the first person shooter perspective.

So far I have agreed with Gee’s principles, the learning theories and that video games possess various characteristics that make them an excellent tool for educating. I think video games allow for a sense of achievement, motivation, exploration and identity. But how can we revamp our education system to include games that every student will feel motivated to play? What games will feel fun for everyone and not just an extra chore? What is THE best game that will provide the best learning environment?

This argument feels as though we are back to square one. In my opinion there are various problems with our school system now such as lack of desire and motivation to learn by some students. How can we be sure video games would fix this problem? Additionally, our educational system is a rigid path of studying the facts and spending great lengths of time listening to lectures in the classroom. Obviously, our system now is not the best way to encourage learning for all students, but what is to say that gaming will? What about those (insane) students that may not enjoy video games? Or in terms of my experience, what if a student is nauseated by the perspective or set up of a game?

As with any problem, there is always a working solution. Video games may not be the one final solution for our educational needs, but it can certainly be of help to supplement what is already in place. We can only work with what we have so far but I think the idea of a correct game “fit” for students is an interesting concept for the future.

As a final point, I believe supplementing education with video games may have greater benefits than previously realized. A gaming education may provide a means for students with learning disabilities to better advance in their schooling. Gaming could have a great future for students with conditions such as blindness or deafness and even those with disabilities. Games may help in advancing critical learning for students of all backgrounds in the near future, we just have to figure out which games best fit the perfect learning picture.

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