How video games can enrich learning in lessons
By Andy Robertson, AskAboutGames.
I usually help parents and carers to gain understanding and confidence in the world of video games. So they can guide their children to be more ambitious and healthy about the video games they play.
Some of these conversations have led me to talk about how video games can be educational. Which, in turn, have led to delivering sessions in schools where I help teaching staff use video games in different subjects. Here are some of the games that have worked well over the years.
1. Getting Over It (PEGI 3)
This is a game about frustration. It appears simple. All you have to do is climb the mountain. However, you have to do it by clawing your way up with a hammer while stuck in a cauldron. It sounds a little bizarre but works really well in English lessons to spark creative writing about frustration, perseverance and different levels of mobility. One school I worked with challenged the children to compete with the staff to see who could get the furthest.
I created a list of video games with unusual locomotion that can be used to follow up these sessions with games that take getting around in different directions.
2. Among Us (PEGI 7)
This is a game about communication, rhetoric and developing a convincing argument. You are all stuck on a space ship and must try and fix it. However, a couple of crewmates are imposters and try and foil the others. Unusually, at any time players can stop the game and call a meeting to discuss who they think is the impostor. In schools, this has been a brilliant tool to highlight fake news, and how it is often how you state your argument rather than having the best facts, that wins the day.
I created a list of video games that get children talking that can be used to follow this game up.
3. Sokobond (Unrated)
This is a puzzle game where you construct different chemical molecules to solve them. It’s clever because it teaches you which atoms go with each other through gameplay interactions rather than written or verbal instruction. This is a great way to engage students who have a different learning style.
4. Old Man’s Journey (PEGI 3)
This is a puzzle game about an old man going on a journey at the end of his life. It’s a good game to use in a variety of lessons. You explore the geography of the landscape. You must solve complex routing problems to find the way forward. Under all this, is a lovely story about getting old that has been used in some schools to engage children with the concept of ageing in a light-hearted way.
I created a list of other games that engage with the subject of ageing that can be useful experiences to follow this.
Whenever I suggest these games to schools, I also highlight the importance of setting up their devices with the appropriate settings. This enables you to ensure that only appropriate games are played. I also offer parents advice about how to set healthy ground rules for video games at home.
Andy Robertson is the editor of AskAboutGames.com and has written the Taming Gaming book for parents.