When I was young, my teachers told me video games would rot my brain. Because I was a child and video games were just emerging, I didn’t have any proof to argue with my them, so I kept my mouth shut.
Looking back, I haven’t thought about whether or not my teachers were right or wrong until I read an article written by Jacob Kastrenakes. It stated that an educational version of Minecraft is being used in schools. This assures me that I was right and my teachers were wrong. Now the world has reached a digital age where anything we can imagine we can make real on computers. The gamification of education is proof of this.
What is Gamification?
Gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve goals with non-game purposes. It exploits the basic human desire and need for gratification.
By using video games to satisfy the users impulses that revolve around the idea of Status and Achievement, educational video games can be used to teach students while maintaining their interests. Are you still confused about what exactly gamification is? Allow me to explain with Microsoft’s latest attempt to turn Minecraft into an educational program for schools.
Microsoft recently announced that it would produce an educational version of Minecraft designed to have students explore real world places like the Pyramids of Egypt. The educational version of Minecraft isn’t too different from the original, except it is designed to go along with teacher lesson plans and show real locations. Microsoft’s use of Minecraft as an educational program is only one basic example how how video games are starting to be used to teach children in school.
Why is it important?
There is still so much educational potential in video games yet to be uncovered. Only recently have games started to teach what many consider to be complex skills. Educational games like Minecraft are limited to very young audiences, but now there are games that can even teach complex mathematical skills. If companies can continue to create games that can teach important skills and actively engage people’s interests, the way that school systems approach education could be revolutionized.
Need more proof? What if there was game that could teach you how to code while having fun? Well there is and it’s called CodeSpells. This is a game where people create a wizard and play in an online virtual world interacting with many other users. The game works by teaching people how to code in Java script to create the spells that their characters cast. This then rewards the user by making them more powerful in the game with the more they learn to code.
As companies continue to find ways to teach educational skills through video games, public schools and universities will be pressured to use these tools to engage students in ways they interest them. Now that video games are being used in schools, what will be next? Perhaps companies with training programs will begin finding ways to use video games to train new employees.