Teaching Games – Video Games in Educational Contexts
Abstract A generational shift is taking place among students that might make it necessary to rethink established strategies and theories of teaching and learning. Digital Natives, who constitute the majority of learners today, have developed different ways of thinking, organising, and interacting with the world; and educational systems no longer accommodate their learning needs. This paper argues that video games, as the ‘natural’ medium of Digital Natives, offer both the engaging and immersive power, as well as the structures and mechanics, needed to overcome this disconnect. Through a review and synthesis of critical literature, the situation is first defined and then three possible ways to integrate video games in educational frameworks are discussed, namely, the use of commercial games, the use of educational games, and the gamification of learning itself. Educational games prove to be largely problematic because of the contradiction between their ludic and educational aspirations, and a communicative approach centred on commercial video games emerges as the key strategy for teaching Digital Natives. Elements of gamification could function to support the process, but a full, systemic implementation of gamification is not possible in the foreseeable future. In view of the socio-cultural pervasiveness of video games and the new cultural techniques they teach Digital Natives, the meaningful inclusion of video games in formal education is an inevitable and necessary step to ensure a high-quality education for this and future generations.
1 Press Start to Begin – Why Video Games?