1Using Games in the ClassroomBy: Mae GuerraPlaying games is a wonderful learning experience that represents an important part of achild’s cognitive and social development. Children learn through playing with others.Playing initiates the symbolic use of objects and is therefore considered the first form ofsymbolization. The symbolization used during play is the first step towards abstractthinking. Playing changes as children grow up, following the course of cognitivedevelopment. The games played, their rules and meanings change as a child grows up.Once a child reaches school age, she or he is able to understand and follow the rulesinvolved in structured games. Games are a common form of playing. All games haveproperties, rules and procedures that must be understood in order to become a ‘‘player’’.Currently, many socio-dramatic and rule-based games have been incorporated in theclassroom yet the use of games through computer technology still creates controversy.There is an abundant amount of evidence supporting the positive effects of computergames as instructional tools. (1) Using video games within the classroom makes learningmeaningful to students and that it creates a learning culture that is related with students’interests. (2) Computer games also help develop many different learning styles. This isbecause speed and level difficulty can be adjusted according to each player (3) Computergames help develop students’ motivation.Video games offer teachers an enormous resource. Teachers can use video games intheir classroom to make subject matter come alive for their students and motivatelearning. Video games are effective in classrooms today because video games are goal-oriented and provide an adequate level of complexity that is motivating to the learner.Commercial computer games are increasingly finding a place in curriculum-basedlearning. This controversial topic is being discussed today within educational circles. Sowhat is it about video games that make students to learn? Games use logic, memory,
2problem solving and critical thinking skills, visualization and discovery which help themlearn. Commercial computer games for the classroom should not different from those forany educational software. Games that are task-driven are good education games becauseit develops a method of retaining information in which the learner needs to understandcomplex concepts through trial and error in order to win the game. Learners reveal theknowledge they have learned through experimentation, observations and drawingconclusions. Mainstream games can be beneficial in the classroom but the content of thegame must be appropriate. It is important that teachers chose games that incorporatecontent into a lesson. If a teacher finds it difficult to see the relevance of the game withinthe context of the curriculum it would be labeled as inappropriate for the classroom. Inorder for game based learning to work successfully within the classroom it is importantthat the game be connected to curriculum objectives.One reason why certain commercial games are used in the classroom is due to theirrelevance to several components of the curriculum. For example, Zoo Tycoon has beenused to teach geography, numerical skills, financial awareness, business skills, animaland natural environment topics. The developers and producers of this game have becomeaware of its use in schools, and subsequently have produced downloadable lesson plansand teaching guidance materials. An example of how Zoo Tycoon works is found at thiswebsite: http://www.cnwcentral.com/zoo-tycoon/info.shtmlJames Paul Gee, author of "Why Video Games Are Good for Your Soul" and "WhatVideo Games Have to Teach Us about Learning & Literacy," discusses the design ofeducation-friendly games. Gee states that video games are excellent "learning machines"because they maintain a level of frustration which motivates learners to keep playing thegame. "Games can show us how to get people to invest in new identities or roles whichcan, in turn, become powerful motivators for new and deep learning in classrooms andworkplaces," Gee explains.Mediums such as television have been recognized as a useful tool for education, yet thenew medium of video games within the classroom still have a long road ahead. "I believethat the use of games and game technologies for learning content in schools and skills in
3workplaces will be pervasive in the future," Gee says. "This is education at its best and itis happening at home, outside of school."Evidence from within the classroom reveals that gaming technology contains a morepositive attitude and learning intensity. Games for educational purposes, encourages ahealthy competition and detailed learning discussions within the classroom as well asallowing students an outlet to convey values and express them to others. Throughlearning by games, students are lead to explore the possibilities that this process ofconnection could lead to a more peaceful and equitable society. Gaming can help totransform classrooms into vibrant, energetic and fun places to be, which help childrenwant to learn.References:Alexander, Leigh. "Gamasutra Article." Gamasutra Article. UBM Tech Game Network,26 Apr. 2013. Web. 27 Apr. 2013.Dylewski, Adam. "Play to Learn: Team Brings Video Games to the Classroom." (June13, 2006). University of Wisconsin, June-July 2006. Web. 27 Apr. 2013.Gee, James Paul. What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy.New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Print.