Education and Video Games

Education and Video Games

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8175-0.ch008


Libraries are not the only place that individuals can acquire education, especially children, and they are not the only places that are using video games. Video games are seen as a powerful tool for use with education: in a classroom setting, at home, or in many other different scenarios. It is important to understand the different nuances of video games to be able to use them effectively for education. The type of video game, the individuals being educated with them, the topic being taught, and the setting in which they are used are all important to take into account when thinking about video games and how they can be used in relation to education. This chapter explores education and video games.
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Education And Video Games

Chapter 7 spent some time discussing video games as related to literacy and education, and how libraries fit in, but that was a broad strokes overview of how games can be looked at for general skills or education. This chapter is different because it looks specifically at how video games can promote different types of learning in education. This is important to think of and acknowledge, from different points of view within the video game world, because games that are not intended to be educational can have those benefits. At the same time, it is important for educators, and librarians and information professionals, to understand how video games work in regards to education because it is closely linked to the world of information and how individuals process information and gain skills. Without the knowledge of how video games can enhance (or hurt) education, video games can be used in the wrong ways, at the wrong times, or to wonderful effect.

Education is always a difficult topic to speak about, because it has so many different aspects to it. For the purposes of this chapter, video games will be discussed in four different ways in regards to education. Three of the ways are summarized by Wang and Wu (2009):

First, games can be used instead of traditional exercises motivating students to put extra effort in doing the exercises and giving the teacher and/or teaching assistants an opportunity to monitor how the students work with the exercises in real time. Second, games can be used within lectures to improve the participation and motivation of students. In this approach, the students and the teacher participate in knowledge-based games. Third, the students are required to develop a game as a part of a course using a game development framework (GDF) to learn skills within computer science or software engineering.

These three ways are very direct to using games in some way. There is a hands on connection with the games, whether through playing them (the first two), or actually designing the game (the third option). The fourth way in which video games can be used as education is as a gateway to more education. This happens in a number of different ways, but the best way to describe it is when an individual goes beyond the game to learn more; either about the game or about something within the game. Chapter 10 – Gaming and information behavior goes into more detail about how this is done, but there will be many examples in this chapter of how it is done specifically related to education.


Gender Differences In Video Game Education

Before this chapter really gets going, gender needs to be addressed. Video games are thought of, much of the time, as primarily a domain of boys. At the same time, boys and girls can learn differently. Because of these two points, gender needs to be discussed so that it can be acknowledged, and the studies that are discussed here can be taken with the general context of gender. Also, it will not have to be discussed in the context of every study mentioned in this chapter if just discussed up front.

The short version is that video games do not affect the genders differently, but that is way too short of a version to get the full picture. To expand further, there is no difference between boys and girls in multiple studies. Adachi and Willoughby (2013) came up with the result that “gender did not moderate the results, results among strategic video game play, self-reported problem solving skills, and academic grades did not differ between boys and girls.” (p. 1050) Within the scope of their study (to be discussed later), there was no difference between boys and girls.

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