What about the games?

FarmTownThe games debate in education is gaining strength and depth and should continue. Games play a significant role in most people’s lives these days and we need to continue examining the impact, questioning the value and looking for the benefits. You will never find me advocating for violent games. I cannot see they would serve a useful purpose so someone else will need to pick up that line of argument. I find it difficult to believe that there are people who actually conceive these games, market them and have no problem with it. The male/female gender breakdown of game players is about the same. This wasn’t always the case. As a mother I can remember spending hours with my daughter helping her work through the frustration of no games for girls. She had played Donkey Kong with her Dad as a child, she  then always had a Play Station and loved games like Indiana Jones,Jurassic Park, Tetris and Sponge Bob. She had a lot of Play Station games she enjoyed and could play with friends and family. She settled on Tomb Raider as her favourite game after a long time of playing Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? She then got into SIMS because she had always loved Sim City and Roller Coaster Tycoon. We never chose her games.We taught her how to find the games to suit her and to look online and in shops and get information and discuss things. As a parent I could see it was part of her world but then, as a parent, I offered her other interests and other things to do as did the rest of the family. PsyPost offers a look at recent research that links the amount of time playing games with behavioural problems. Those students who just cannot leave their games alone need to be helped to be less intense about playing games. It’s a question of balance and then the time and place approach. As teachers we can have an impact and find ways of helping students to know they can live without their games for a little while. At one stage I was one of those who thought games were stupid and had no real purpose. I then went on a mission to find games which suited me. I had to say the games sites I started with, once they recovered from the shock I was not going to play what they said, actually worked with me and found me the sorts of games I like. I play a game on FaceBook, games on my iPad, I have games on my phone incase I am stuck somewhere waiting and I have  training and puzzle games on my NintendoDS. I like puzzles, word games and things like Bejewelled Blitz but I also like games which are based on Lego thinking where you build something complex one tiny thing at a time. Minecraft is a game which has been very successful and which a number of my students have used in class. It does have educational support and teachers who are pioneering its use. kidspot has a very thought provoking and well thought out article about what Minecraft offers children. Worth a read and the games debate needs to carry on with some decent research and thinking so we can find ways of using the gaming approach in class but also combatting the negative impact of games on some students. We need to be more precise about what those impacts are and what can be done about it. My former stance of “Games are silly they are not for me” is not adequate!

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