In the recent years, there has been an increase in “educational” games hitting the video gaming industry. Games that are being promoted as providing kids with educational value, such as improving their creativity or problem solving skills. Minecraft being a key example. But, have video games always been educational? And can video games improve literacy skills? Back in the 70’s, when the first ever shooting game, Space Invaders was released. There were more kids than ever stuck indoors. In the early days video gaming had a negative stigma of being a waste of time and promoting antisocial behaviour in teens. However, have you ever thought about the process that goes into playing videos games? As games developed and became more complex, their educational value has increased. Here are a couple of ways video games improve literacy skills:
The secret lies in the player’s activities outside gaming.
It is common for games today to come with limited instructions. This alone encourages children to hunt for the information they need. Your child will refer to a number of sources to find this information. This includes YouTube videos, Google and reading how-to guides or walk-throughs. In particular, most how-to guides and walk-throughs contain complex information written for teens or adults. This already means that your child is reading at a level beyond their expectations. And what drives this hunt for information? Passion, of course!
Passion for gaming drives writing
This passion for gaming not only gets you child reading but also writing. Suddenly the idea of writing becomes ‘cool’ and your child doesn’t even know it! Their interest in a particular game will get them posting in forums, game sites and participating in online discussions. They will be replying to complex questions and providing detailed answers. Probably even writing up to 500 words a day, without any prompt from parents or educators.
Creating different stories and alternative endings
This is why games, like Minecraft, are such big hits. Allowing the user to create their own world, tell their own story with a character they chose are the perfect ingredients to tell amazing stories. We’ve all heard of fan art, where you draw your favourite characters from your favourite show. From this concept comes the rise of fan fiction. Where you can write stories about your favourite characters and explore alternative endings and scenarios. This drives your child to think more creatively and increases their imagination in the process.
Gaming is no longer anti-social.
Of course many years ago, gaming was an anti-social activity. Being stuck in front of your computer or TV screen in the dark all day, speaking to no one. But thanks to the increasing popularity of video gaming and our digitally connected world. This means video gaming is more social than ever. When you child goes to school video gaming gives them a topic to speak about to their friends, improving their oral speaking skills and confidence. At home commenting on forums and online discussions improves their written communication skills. Long gone are days of anti-social gamers, hello social gamers!
So, can video games improve literacy skills?
There is definitely more to video games than just pressing some buttons and staring at a screen all day. By playing video games, your child will be improving their problem-solving and creativity. As well as improving their reading and writing skills. And the key to this is their passion for video gaming. When your child loves doing something they will explore new boundaries and reach new heights without conflict or guidance from grownups. This is the true power of passion!
Does your child love video gaming? As parent or educator would you encourage video gaming as a hobby? Let us know in the comments below.