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Things Games can Teach...

Posted by Axum Sunday October 5 2008 at 8:44PM
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I posted a thread about the book "Everything Bad is Good for You" by Steven Johnson,

but i thought i'd just touch on a few of the things stated within the book...


Hand-eye Coordination - obvious...

Being in a social enviorment - An interesting thing which is brought to my attention within the book is how he mentions that books actually cut people off from society, putting them into solitude, whereas the majority of today's games are becoming very social.

Economics - In all sincerity this is actually a neccessary skill in life. And by playing a game that requires you to handle money, use a free-market trade system, and spend your money accordingly, many children can get a head-start when it comes to actually having to do it in the real world.


Decision Making skills - In all games, no matter how simple, you have to make decisions. You are the one in control, and if you die, or lose the game, it is no-ones fault but your own. By analyzing the situation, and predicting the possible outcomes of your decision, then the child in fact, is learning scientific theory without even knowing it.

First they must Analyze the world or situation

Then they form a hypothesis about something

Third they re-analyze the world with their hypothesis in mind

Fourth they reflect their hypothesis to see if their prediction was right (or worked).


Prioritizing - Games often have a final goal, or something which may look like a final goal for the moment. You often have to figure out what needs to be done before you can achieve that final goal, and the thought laid out may look something like this (this is extremely simplified).

Get Tier 6 Armor

         To get that I need Tier 4 or 5 armor

                 To get Tier 4 or 5 armor  i need Kara armor

                           To get Kara armor i need a guild

                                   To get a good guild i need to be level 70

                                         To level to 70 i need to quest

                                                 To quest i need to kill monsters

                                                        To kill monsters i need to click the mouse


And the last topic i will cover is...


Pushing the limits- Humans always want to know how far they can go, how great they can be. How far they can surpass everyone else. And in games, the path to doing so is pretty straigt forward. But in all its essence it is teaching people to seek their goal, and put effort twords attaining it.

I bet you didn't want to have to repeat the same quests over and over again to get one piece of armor. By the third time it was almost like a chore. But still, you did it, you pushed through the unpleasentness to attain your goal.

That is something in which every person should be taught, or teach themselves.

N1ghtsta1ker writes:

 It's all true, but if you try to tell this to anybody who doesn't play games (MMOs specifically) they'll just laugh in your face and think you're being childish (It's happened to me before =P).

Even as a child, playing signle-player RPGs taught me a variety of vocabulary and helped me with my spelling.  That probably isn't true of today's games since they all have voice acting, but oh well.

Sun Oct 05 2008 9:04PM Report
MyPreciousss writes:

I could agree with some of your first points but basically saying that video games are a great source of learning is a biased and a flawed argument although it can help a lot kids with socialization problems. It can teach you stuff but books, teachers or teaching material are better for real knowledge.

Economics in games are surrealist, dead wolfies dropping gold and swords, you selling a random drop for lots of golds, or you speculating at the auction house earning money not even working for it (economic crisis anyone?) ;).

Maybe you've got more complex games with real economic simulations though.

I don't agree with your "pushing the limits" stuff but it's more about philosophy of life or game design: competition with others or self-competition is not the best thing in life it can bring a lot of frustration, sadness, destroy the environment (mankind is never satisfied, is greedy and wants always more) and making you a sheep with ever unfulfilled wishes. Saying repeating the same quests over and over to get a silly piece of gear or reputation gives you tenacity and a sense of achievement is an argument that is really controversial in mmorpgs. If the goal is a stupid one (getting pixellated rewards to brag about it or be able to grind at a higher level) i don't see any sense in praising the hours wasted to do it. Actually it won't really because the whole meaning of grind is... to do it all over again and pay more of xpacks and sub in the process.

I don't think it teaches you a lot to spend hundreds of hours grinding in games where you could practice hard and cool activities in the real world (learn to play a music instrument, languages, anything) because in the end your basic knowledge, as good and complex any game is, will be about mastering artificial game mechanisms on a screen and clicking the right button in the right time.

Sun Oct 05 2008 11:02PM Report
Axum writes:

Games teach a different kind of knowledge than books and teachers do. Its more cognitive thinking than life-lessons and stuff like that which is portrayed in books.


Remember, that this is all learnt while being Entertained. While having fun.  I am not saying that it is a substitute for all things, but merely an option.

Sun Oct 05 2008 11:16PM Report
Patarr writes:

pushing the limits is a good one. And it also teaches people not to take on more than they can handle. If you can mob 10 baddies at the same time, thats good, but if u die at 11-12... stick with 10!

Mon Oct 06 2008 10:16PM Report
kokoro-chin writes:

This is an interesting outlook in mmorpg playing. I've never thought of playing as some sort of a learning experience but you have pointed out some interesting points. I am a somewhat 'closet' gamer to my friends since some of them cannot fully grasp the idea of a full grown woman having so much interest in gaming (I'm not sure if this is also the case for guys) and they even perceive it a something very childish. But reading this helped in boosting my morale. Playing games can teach you a thing or two about decision-making and prioritizing. I also liked the 'pushing the limits' one. That one is something you can't learn in school and sometimes real life has a very subtle way of teaching it. I liked reading very much!

Tue Oct 07 2008 12:36AM Report writes:
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