Gaming’s Benefit To Students: A Teacher’s Perspective
I have been into gaming for most of my life. I still am very much into gaming. After I became a teacher, I have gone on to become a speaker for gaming addiction. As much as gaming addiction being a threat to many students, it is however not without its benefits. As such, here are a few benefits for gaming from a teacher’s perspective.
Language & History
As a second language teacher, I teach English to those who do not speak English as their main language. One thing that many of them lack is the practice of the language. Gaming provides an avenue for such practice. Games such as the Witcher or Dragon Age requires the player to read through quite a lot. This includes reading through the lore and spells. It may seem easy if your first language is English, but it requires quite a lot of effort for a second language student. Such effort is equivalent to practicing their reading skills.
The same applies from fast paced, multiplayer first person shooter games. In order for your team to win, you would have to communicate your position as well as the enemy’s to your team. This requires any second language speaker to use the language or lose. Based on both reading and speaking in games, one can learn and master a language through games. However, this only works if you are steadfast in using the target language, no cheating.
As for history, games such as DOTA & Red Alert take their inspiration from certain historical events. Remember Vladimir’s offering in DOTA, that’s a reference to Vlad the impaler, commonly known as Dracula. There is however, a very interesting story behind Vlad the impaler. If a student gets that far, he would be learning some rather interesting historical facts.
Red Alert conversely, is related to the cold war and alternate history. If you were to play through the Red Alert series, you will learn about certain important historical events. However, since Red Alert is about alternate history, it does challenges your mind to be rather creative.
Storytelling & Creativity
I remember playing Spec Ops: The Line. I played through the entire game thinking that I was saving the world and people. At the end, I realized that I was the problem. I love how the story was told and that’s not all. Games such as Mass effect takes storytelling to another level, by introducing consequences to players. Imagine every decision you make in the first Mass Effect would affect you in the second and third Mass Effect game. This is all over the span of 5 years. The way the story was interwoven and how an entire world was built is mind boggling.
Now imagine taking both those games and applying it into one’s storytelling. The lesson from both these games is the importance of ‘twists’ and meaningful consequences in storytelling. I use such concepts to teach my students creative writing. This has really challenged them to write some really cool stories. Such stories include a 500 word essay on how a rabbit killed a mole while harvesting carrots. The mole’s family then set out to gain the rabbit’s trust before killing it. I know, its dark, but in my opinion, superbly creative.
As much as games are great, it is important to remember two things. First, every student should game in moderation. This could mean many things but really, just don’t play games for more than an hour a day. It is important that the student is the master over the game and not the other way around. There are many ways to achieve this, but I gained control and got out of gaming addiction because I found more important things to do in real life. As such, give the child purpose and a goal to work towards to. Unless, if the goal is to be a professional gamer.
Second, the game should have an external learning objective. Every player is given an objective and mission in the game. However, a teacher or parent can attach a learning objective to the game. For example, play the game in English or write a report of your gaming experience.
Gaming or playing games in my opinion can be tweaked in so many ways to benefit the students. I believe that instead of viewing games in a negative light, teachers and parents should consider one important fact. Most students and children are playing some form of game, be it on a console or a smartphone. Instead of trying to stop them from playing, why not try to help them learn through it?
I hope this post has helped you. Do drop a comment below on your thoughts.