Can Videogames teach RESPONSIBILITY?

Thus far in this class we have focused on using videogames as a substitute for traditional schooling and have argued that videogames facilitate learning in a more efficient and effective manner.  Moreover, when we make the argument that videogames better facilitate learning we are referring to what I call “traditional learning”.  In my eyes, traditional learning refers to the things students are taught as part of a standard lower level curriculum which include basic arithmetic, grammar and science.  Although we have concluded, during class discussions and after having read the likes of Gee and Lepper, that videogames are in some situations more efficient at facilitating traditional learning than the classroom is, can we also make the conclusion that videogames also represent a superior teaching tool when it comes to teaching “non-traditional” subjects such as responsibility? The other day I was playing Grand Theft Auto after one of our lectures and began to think about this idea of videogames being used to teach responsibility.  As I played the game I began to notice just how many tasks I had to attend to and to how I was forced to prioritize these tasks because it was physically impossible to address all of them simultaneously.  On a basic level I as the gamer was responsible for my characters basic needs.  On the left corner of my screen there was a monitor with a heart that represented my characters health.  As I played I began to notice that my characters health would be diminished when he experienced physical pain (being shot or hit by a car) but could be increased by a variety of things including food, health packs and sexual relations.  On a more complex level, my character had a variety of different responsibilities I had to address due to decisions I had made during different stages of the game.  For example, earlier in the game I had taken on mission that gave me the responsibility of taking out an enemy gang member.  If I did not take out the gang member by a certain time I would loose money and without money I was unable to buy weapons necessary for self-defense and food necessary for self-preservation.  Not only does this instance demonstrate how a videogame can be used to teach gamers responsibility but it also demonstrates how videogames teach gamers how to prioritize responsibilities.  For instance, although I had a mission to complete (responsibility A) I would not be able to complete this mission without buying the necessary weapon to carry it out (responsibility B) or buying enough food and health packs to get my characters health up to an appropriate level (responsibility C).   Therefore, after trial and error it became clear to me that I had to carry out my responsibilities in the order of C, B and then A hence I learned to prioritize.  Although Grand Theft Auto is a bit of an extreme example do we think videogames can be used to teach kids how to meet and prioritize their basic responsibilities?

Flight Simulators

Thus far in class we have explored the notion that video games may facilitate learning better than traditional methods we have grown accustom to, such as traditional schools and online classrooms.  Time and again we refer to this notion of learning but what exactly do we mean by learning? Learning is a very broad and encompassing term that can include essentially everything from academics to self defense.  When we say that video games may better facilitate learning are we referring to all types of learning?  Can a video game teach a 6th grade student how to write a five paragraph essay as well as an accredited english teacher? Can a video game teach a solider military strategy as well as a decorated officer?  Clearly there are some elements of certain types of learning that make these subjects better suited to being taught through traditional methods as opposed to by a video game, but what exactly are these elements?  Are we able to segregate certain types of learning into categories  based on their inhereent characteristics and conclude that certain categories of learning are better suited to be taught by a videogame whereas other types of learning are better suited to be taught by a livinging person?  Take for instance a solider training to become a pilot.  Almost all aviation training programs utilize flight simulators, a type of video game, to teach aspiring pilots how to fly planes.  Although most of these training programs use a combination of simulation and actual flight experience, for regulatory and safety purposes, in order to train their students, which of these mediums is a more effective teaching tool?  This summer I was able to meet and speak with a few air force pilots at the intrepid museum in New York City and the topic of flight simulators came up.  Although the pilots I spoke with all went through programs that incorporated both flight simulation and real flight experience, the majority of their training was spent in flight simulators and these pilots made it seem as if they learned more in the simulators than they did from their actual flight experience and their flight instructors.  What are your thoughts on this idea that learning can be separated into categories and are their certain tasks, such as learning to fly a plane, that are better suited to being taught by a video game as opposed to an actual person?

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