Kids are innately curious by nature. Long before they start acquiring any formal education, kids start learning on their own by observation or experiment. “Learning by doing” is one of the most effective techniques in teaching basic concepts. However, as a parent or a teacher, you would have realized that kids have the attention span of a fly. We struggle constantly to keep them engaged and interested.
And this is where digital games come to rescue. Schools and institutions have now started employing various innovative audio-visual techniques to grab the kids’ attention for a longer period of time. Though the use of digital gaming in education is yet not accepted widely, it has started attracting attention of educationists.
Whether you like it or not, digital games are here to stay. And no matter how hard you try to keep to keep them away from your kids, they will find a way to smartphones or laptops. Interestingly, the attention span while playing games is much higher than while doing any other activity. Digital gaming market has been growing manifold over the last few years.
Role-playing, simulation and puzzles are popular digital game genres. While role-playing allows the player to enact a role of a particular character in a virtual world; simulation creates realistic situations in virtual worlds. Both the categories can have one or more players in the game and can be played even from multiple locations. Crosswords, sudoku and treasure hunts are basic puzzle games in both physical and digital form.
Role playing games or RPGs can be single player such as the Dungeons and Dragons or multi-player such as Diablo III, Xenoblade, Final Fantasy XIII-2 or Mass Effect 3. MMORPG or the Massive Multiple Online Role-Playing Games are advanced versions of the RPGs where a large number of players interact in an online virtual world. In simulation games, the outcome will depend on the player’s decision-making and responsiveness and might be very similar in a real life scenario.
Simulation games are widely used in training and analysis and are highly popular due to their unpredictable and personalized outcomes. Flight Simulator X, Live for Speed (LFS) and Need for Speed have been extremely popular as simulation games. The puzzles genre of digital games involves problem solving and analysis with varying degrees of difficulty depending on the nature of the game. Crosswords and treasure hunt games are basic forms of puzzle games in both physical and digital form.
Digital Games- A blessing in disguise
In spite of being accused of increasing violent behavior in kids, a well-designed game can actually be helpful to accelerate cognitive skills. Integrating digital gaming with basic education framework can enhance competitiveness and multi-dimensional growth in children of all ages. Let us take a look at some arguments which weigh in favor of digital games.
- Games can help kids develop some critical “21st-century” expertise such as content (rich vocabulary, science and history), skills (literary and analytical skills, math and complex problem-solving), creativity (videos, applications and programming codes) and systems thinking (relationship of elements with each other).
- Digital games require hand-eye coordination and can improve motor and sensory skills. Academician Philip Johnson Laird had suggested that learning is enhanced when senses are stimulated. Games that involve logical analysis or pattern recognition can actually boost cognitive process and develop problem-solving skills.
- Digital games involve a social involvement of players. Games also develop a sense of discipline because they ask for adherence to rules.
- Games that involve chasing a certain objective can also develop situational analysis and strategy making.
- Collaboration in multi-player games develop constructive competitive attitude in kids and encourages team-spirit. Time bound games teach time-management.
- Digital games are also known to help hyper-active kids by channelizing their aggression in constructive gaming environment. They help diffuse stress by providing an outlet to their aggression.
- Games like Nintendo Wii boxing can help kids to engage mentally and physically even within the confines of your home.
The 21st century needs a different kind of skill set for survival and excellence. Unfortunately, not all parents can provide guidance to develop those skills. Digital games, when played in a supervised and controlled environment, can actually help kids in developing and polishing those abilities. So next time when you want to shun those games, just wait and think about how it might help them.