What tips do I bring on educational games on PC? Plenty! After years as a teacher researcher, I got enough time to see how my young brothers and sisters or graduate studies classmates played games. Some of them were addicted and probably they don’t know that, which is sad. Recently, I moved to Asia to develop my understanding of teaching practices on that part of the globe, there I saw students abandoning lessons just to play PC games. My colleagues complained during teaching staff meeting that some students brought computers in English classes just to play games while others are learning! The teachers complaining seemed not to know the cognitive benefits of educational computer games. As a teacher researcher, I took time to observe people play and reviewed theories to get an idea of the cognitive aspects involved. If you could read fully this article, you would gain from it. Here we go!
What PC games are
PC games are entertaining fun activities played on PC as they are accessed through downloaded (or themselves are) applications. Everything is pre-set in such games and most of them have user interfaces that are quasi interactive. This aspect is perceived in terms of the availability of tutorials (video or audio) meant to guide a new user on how the game works. Some games are free why other are paid or simply the game developer has two versions: a free and paid one. When you buy a PC, with internet, one can download games and play for free without any limitations or after purchasing them. As new brand keep emerging, now there are games for boys, girls, kids, adults, etc, which hints on the existence of a large menu to choose from.
Educational benefits of games
But why educational benefits? Just because some games are just funny and are not contributing a lot to educational aspect of the player or gamer. There are then another range of games that combines aspects of being fun and education. Those games then have the ability to maximize fun while they impart gamers with useful knowledge and skills likely to benefit them for quite long. Here is a list of educational games that satisfied fun and education criteria:
1. The Oregon Trail PC
2. Mavis Beacon PC
3. SimCity PC
4. Math Blaster PC
6. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
7. Jeopardy! Multi-Platform
The list above is not exhaustive but those are the top ones that combine fun and education. One does not only game but they also learn as well.
Cognitive Benefits of Playing PC games
Despite the controversy that games are associated to addiction, obesity, isolation, and becoming “machine-phile”, and hints that these games benefit mind abound too. The review of literture shows isolated cases that any statistician, including me, would not generalize. This being said, there facts and findings that games have cognitive benefits. However, some particular VIDEO games especially action ones, were found to have the benefits listed below. Some proofs are worth mentioning to convince teachers or parents who would not stand seeing learners/children play games. These findings are eminent and convincing:
====>On basic mental processes tests like decision-making, memory, attention state, or perception: research has found that gamers are outstanding over non-gamers (Eichenbaum, Bavelier, and Green, 2014).
====>Effects on Perceptual Skills: There is evidence in the enhancement of contrast sensitivity, visual acuity, crowding, peripheral vision, briefly temporal processing (quick reactions) for quick stimuli, (Green and Seitz, 2015; Donohue, Woldorff, and Mitroff, 2010);
====>Benefits on Attention Skills: facts are there testifying that video gamers’ ability to sort a particular target within a field made of many distractors, (Feng, Spence, & Pratt, 2007; Green & Bavelier, 2003) in Green and Seitz (2015).
There are many other video games’ benefits including their effects on higher cognitive functions and so on.
Video games, indeed some of educational video games that performed better at enhancing the benefits aforementioned, include:
(2) Wolfenstein: The New Order’
(3) Grand Theft Auto V;
Negative aspects PC games: A warning to learners and educators
It would be careless of me if I were to end this post only with appraisal words about PC video gaming. Action video gaming are real distractors in our daily classrooms in Asia. This also would make the game developers and educational experts to sit together to issue a common orientation on how to save classes that tend to be attended by double-minded learners and “learner-fakers” or impostor students. The flaws of gaming for students include::
==== the tendency to like games to the detriment of classes;
====probable class hate or dislike arisen from the fact that a teacher is always giving remarks to particular gamers, which develop mutual bad feelings between the teacher and that learner gamer;
====distraction to the whole classroom: a recent complaint by a teacher known to me gave account of a computer that was making noise because it was heat. A clouded classroom not allowing a teacher to go behind when lecturing favored some students sitting in the back to go gaming. Their laptops made noise and distracted all the students sitting around those gamers.
====Blurred eyes and slumbering in the morning class: in my class I could tell that someone probably slept only two hours (probably after his/her cellphone battery and power banks went low)!
====Most video action games have the “violence aspect” that may damage the brain of some learners, especially the young ones.
====Difficult self-regulation or autonomous learning: this is my extension and humble opinion. But it is deductive of the fact that someone who’s got blurred eyes as a result of sleeping late in the night cannot wake up early to revise their notes.
In this post, I have walked you through benefits of games, especially those combining fun and imparting knowledge. I’ve also shown that some video PC games have been proven to have particular cognitive benefits. So, educational PC games have two aspects educational benefits outside curricula and evidenced cognitive benefits on the one hand and then flaws related to students’ drastic drop of motivation to learn the regular curricula.
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