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Myths and research on video games

Posted on: December 8, 2012


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Daphne Bevelier shares research on the impact of games on learners and game-players.

Myth: Staring at the screen worsens eyesight.
Her research: The vision of action gamers is actually better than those who do not play video games. Gamers can make out finer details and are better able to distinguish more levels of grey (better able to tell contrast?).

Myth: Gamers are more distracted because they develop attention problems.
Her research: Gamers are actually faster at resolving conflicts and can pay attention to more discrete objects or instances.

Myth: Gamers can multitask better than non-gamers.
Her research: The ability to multitask varies with the choice of media or game, not with the individual.

Myth: The effects of experimental game interventions are not long-lasting.
Her research: In one study on spatial cognition, the effects of a total of 10 hours of video-gaming were not only immediate but also present five months after the intervention.

Bevelier concludes that “general wisdom carries no weight” in the light of research.

I also loved her example of how educational games are like chocolate-coated broccoli. They are meant to be good for you, but you do not buy it because you will not swallow it.

Parents and teachers might buy the chocolate-coated broccoli games. However, the kids and learners will know better.

The trick then is to create games that kids really want to play and are also good for them. It is about creating good, really healthy chocolate.

I think there is a simpler solution. Show teachers how to take advantage of existing chocolate and get both students and teacher to consume and create at the right times.

This strategy is not about the technology. It is about the pedagogy. Good games are already well designed so you need not redesign or recreate. You just need to facilitate creative and critical use of the games.

7 Responses to "Myths and research on video games"

Your theory of getting teachers and administrators to like the chocolate actually doesn’t work because what then has to occur is the bending of curriculum to fit the available games. The curriculum should be able to stand on its own, regardless of technology (this is the frequent error that schools and teachers make – it’s technology so it MUST be better, let’s change our curriculum so we can use this new technology). The technology must ENHANCE what is being done, and what is being done must be able to be done even without the technology.

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I did not suggest that teachers like the chocolate. I meant that they learn to incorporate it into the food they are preparing.

We cannot afford to wait for suitable games to be created for curriculum. We have neither the time nor money. Games created for curriculum can also quickly get out of date and kids know that these are not really games.

One alternative is to use things like Angry Birds to help students learn about language and values. The game is not designed with those in mind, so it is up to the teacher to strategize. That is what I try to teach teachers to do.

In short, I am not suggesting that curriculum bend to the games. Instead, the games bend to the curriculum, strategy, and pedagogy.

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