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The Value and Side-Effects of Games in Education

Games have been used as a learning tool for centuries, and in recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the use of games as an instrument of education (Gee, 2003), with video games having evolved as a source of entertainment for more than 20 years. Most obviously, huge technological developments have made it possible for designers to construct complex digital worlds with significantly better sound and graphics (Olbur, 2003). As a result of these significant technological advancements, games have been utilized in schools to engage students and make learning more interactive and fun (Gee, 2003). They are particularly effective in teaching subjects such as mathematics and science, as they can provide a hands-on and interactive way to learn complex concepts. The arts, like language and history, are also presented in engaging and interactive ways through visual sources to complement the literacy-heavy aspect of these subjects (Gee, 2003). While games in education have the potential to enhance student engagement and motivation and improve learning outcomes, excessive use of games can lead to negative side effects such as decreased attention span and lack of critical thinking, therefore, a balanced and appropriate use of games in education is crucial to fully utilize its advantages and minimize its lacking qualities (Gee, 2003).

One of the significant advantages of games in education includes effectiveness in increasing student motivation and engagement (Prensky, 2001). Some disciplines may be perceived by many students as being challenging, abstract, and dull. Students are supposed to learn while playing the curriculum's games, so they can enjoy the learning experience. The learning process will become enjoyable, captivating, and successful if fun is incorporated into it. An important analysis of educational games incorporates the concepts of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as the two types of motivation. Extrinsic motivation is linked to rewards, but intrinsic motivation is the desire to do the activity for one's own purpose because they find it enjoyable and hard. These two motives may have varying effects on students' learning outcomes, for example, students who played educational games were more likely to be engaged in the learning process (Gee, 2003), and had a better understanding of the material than those who did not partake in gaming (Prensky 2003).

Figure 1: Young Man Seen Studying in a Library

Games can also be used to teach problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and collaboration, with a better understanding of teamwork achieved by students, in comparison to those who did not play the games (Gee, 2003). Games are entertaining and participatory, and students respond easily to this kind of learning environment, with a heightened motivation to learn which is integral to a beneficial education (Kirkland & O’Riordan, 2006). When played in pairs or groups, games have the effect of giving students safety in numbers. It is practically impossible to sit idly by and not become involved in games, particularly when they are interesting. They are naturally attracted together and bond in the cozy competitive setting of the game – inspired to learn through games as a social need (Kirkland & O’Riordan, 2006). Games can help with student integration and can promote a collaborative and social learning environment. For example, strategy games can help students learn how to think ahead and plan for multiple outcomes, while role-playing games can teach communication and teamwork (Gee,2003).

By giving students more influence over the learning process, setting clear goals, pushing them, encouraging cooperation, employing criterion-based assessments, and adding novelty to the environment, educators can learn from video games about how to improve learning settings (Olbur, 2003). In order to put students in states of "flow," well-designed learning environments make use of many of these design elements. Educational strategies like problem-based learning environments, case-based reasoning, learning through participation in communities of practice, or inquiry-based learning all put students in active roles while pursuing objectives that are important to them (Olbur, 2003).

Figure 2: Young Students Learning Together During a Group Study

Games integrate personalized learning experiences into the curriculum, and with the use of adaptive learning technology, games can adjust to the individual needs and abilities of each student. This can help to ensure that each student is working at their appropriate level and progressing at their own pace (Huitt, 2004). With instantaneous, real-time feedback from digital learning games on each player's performance, educators can use this information to modify their teaching methods to better meet the unique needs of each student (Huitt, 2004). This will result in a more targeted use of in-class instruction time and improved learning outcomes.

Although there are many positive sides to gaming in education, there are also negative aspects. One of the main concerns is that excessive gaming can lead to addiction – negatively impacting a student's overall well-being, including academic performance(Rooji et. al, 2011). Video games provide enticing, addictive features of competition and excitement that make them popular leisure activities for youngsters and teenagers (Toto & Limone, 2022). As a result, these players will stop at nothing to advance through the game's levels. In-game settings often make users feel valued, helpful, and at home, with the desire to participate to feel important looming overhead. This frequently happens when someone lacks social pleasure; as a result, playing video games becomes the focal point of their social life and boosts their self-esteem (Toto & Limone, 2022). Studies have shown that excessive gaming can lead to decreased academic achievement, as well as physical and mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders (Rooji et. al, 2011).

Figure 3: Little Boy Engrosses in playing Video Games

Social isolation and a lack of face-to-face communication skills is prevalent in students who excessively game (Rooji et. al. 2011). As students spend more time gaming, they may have less time for social interactions with friends and family, which can negatively impact their social development. Playing games for long periods meant that students were more likely to have poor social relationships (Rooji et. al. 2011). With these lacking social skills, impulsivity and awkwardness, children would retreat back into their games – spending even more time on the practice. The claim suggests a strong reliance on video games as a source of leisure. Bullying, issues at home, or issues at school can all lead to social isolation, and children may gravitate to video games when they feel cut off from their friends. Video games satisfy a child's need to succeed and a sense of belonging. In addition to being simpler than real relationships, video games also offer a phony form of social contact.

Games can also hurt academic performance, with students who played games for long periods being more likely to have lower grades (Rooji et. al. 2011). Students who played games for long periods were also more likely to have a lower level of academic achievement (Lemmens et. al. 2009). Gaming physically impacts academic achievement because students are too engrossed in the game to complete their assignments or prepare for class (Lemmens et. al. 2009). Gaming not only affects performance in a direct way but also increases hostility, which is frequently associated with behavioral issues at school and poor academic achievement. Playing video games takes time away from homework, social interactions, and other school-related tasks (Lemmens et. al. 2009).

Figure 4: A Sad Student Looking at Her Failed Test Script

In conclusion, there are various opportunities to include gaming in education. Games can be a valuable tool for improving student engagement, motivation, and learning outcomes in the classroom. However, it is important to note that excessive use of games in education may lead to negative side effects such as addiction, lack of critical thinking, and poor academic performance. In the long run, this can affect the overall performance and progress of the students. Therefore, it is important to use games in education in a balanced and appropriate manner and to consider the potential negative effects when implementing them in the classroom.

Bibliographic References

Evans, G. (2018). How Games are Designed to Increase Students’ Motivation in Learning Physics? A Literature Review.

Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Huitt, W. (2004). Educational psychology: A cognitive view. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Kirkland, D., & O’Riordan, F. (2006). Games as an Engaging Teaching and Learning Technique: Learning or playing?

Lemmens, J. S., Valkenburg, P. M., & Peter, J. (2009). Development and validation of a game addiction scale for adolescents. Media Psychology, 12(1), 77-95.

Olbur, A. (2003). Video Games in Education.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital game-based learning. New York: McGraw-Hill. Squire, K. (2006). From content to context: Videogames as designed experience. Educational Researcher, 35(8), 19-29.

Toto, G. A., & Limone, P. (2022). Signs, mechanisms and consequences of videogame addictions: educational strategies and rehabilitation. Van Eck, R. (2006). Digital game-based learning: It's not just the digital natives who are restless. EDUCAUSE Review, 41(2), 16-30. Van Rooij, A. J., Schoenmakers, T. M., Vermulst, A. A., Van den Eijnden, R. J., & Van de Mheen, D. (2011). Problematic video game use among adolescents: The relationship with school performance and problem behavior. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40(11), 1437-1447.

Visual Sources

Cover Photo: HERs, t. (2022, March 6). the*gameHERs | How Gaming Can Help Your Creative Flow. The*gameHERs.

Figure 1: Global, H. H. (2022, December 21). How To Write A Case Study: Topic Samples, Types, and Data Collection. Homework Help.

Figure 2: Freepik. (2021, December 5). Young students learning together during a group study Free Photo.

Figure 3: Lee, C. T. (2020b, November 2). Video game addiction not a problem for most kids, but some gamers face serious issues later in life. Study Finds.

Figure 4: Karageorghis, A. (2021, August 18). How to cope with exam failure: putting it into perspective - MyTutor Blog.


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