It’s no surprise that games are addictive and can be harmful to those who aren’t careful. However these platforms are prevalent in today's world and so we should be strategizing about how best to leverage games as a way to improve learning.
Pretty much all computer games are incredibly addictive. That’s what they are made for. Same with social media. The goal is to get you to spend as much time as possible on their platform. This can also be incredibly harmful, but there is something about the innate enjoyment people get from playing computer games that can also be leveraged.
Turning Games into Learning Opportunities
There are many ways that games can be used as learning opportunities, one of which is programming. This can either be used to customize games or to build your own games. You can learn very valuable programming concepts that can be applied outside of games but as the entertainment space is growing rapidly, there is more and more demand for developers in the gaming space. When using games as a way to motivate young people to learn programming it becomes exceptionally easy to keep them engaged and curious.
The only downside to consider is how much of that time is actually spent learning, and how valuable are the tools. In some cases learning to program only within a game will give you a very limited skill set in coding and the concepts you are learning aren’t applied outside of games, or that particular game which doesn’t provide much of a learning benefit.
Another way to turn games into learning opportunities is to come up with project ideas relating to the game to help improve engagement. Either writing an article about the game, writing a persuasive essay about why they should be able to play more of the game or why other kids should play the game as well. Then kids can also present their project learning public speaking, and other valuable skills like using interests to create valuable projects.
Games are also great to develop self control and discipline. A project that can be done is your own gaming schedule and trying to persuade your parents into allowing you to follow a gaming schedule decided by you. The benefit to this is you will be trying to maximize your game time as much as possible but you need to make sure that it isn’t something your parents find unreasonable. In this case you are learning discipline, and setting rules for yourself and learning responsibility.
Learning platforms such as Khan Academy, DuoLingo and many more have started to gamify their platforms to increase learning and engagement. This is very useful to help users have fun while learning, causing them to learn more effectively. Using tools to gamify learning can greatly increase productivity and willingness to learn about more complex subjects for young people, in which case the addictiveness of games actually plays in your favor.
Should Games be Taken Away?
Now with all the downsides and risks to games it seems as though a reasonable solution would just be to take them away. I don’t think this is the best solution and here’s why.
There will always be temptations in life. Things that are fun and enjoyable but not necessarily good for you. An example would be consuming social media, eating unhealthy food, and alcohol. Games are just an example of a very prevalent reality for kids. If games are taken away from young people how will they ever learn self-discipline and responsibility before having the freedom of being an adult and being exposed to even more unhealthy but enjoyable things.
So by taking games away you are exposing young people to the risk of not knowing how to discipline themselves and then falling trap to the addiction of games as soon as they have the freedom to do so.
Many video games are addictive. But there are ways you can leverage that to create valuable projects and learn valuable skills while having fun. Wouldn’t it be awesome if kids are addicted to learning and creating? Temptations to do things that are enjoyable but not necessarily good for you will always be around, and games are just one example. Because of this it is an extremely valuable tool for helping grow skills such as responsibility and discipline but can also help with things such as learning to program and much more.
Check out my other article on how games can be turned into learning opportunities: https://www.wequil.school//post/how-to-turn-games-into-learning-opportunities