Because video games are so engaging and addictive, millions of people invest their time playing them. For this reason I think video games can be used as an educational tool and can be effectively used to address global problems.
My 12-year-old brother has been a gamer for years. Thanks to the gaming, and only the gaming, he can both speak and write almost perfect English. When I was his age, I only knew words like yes, no, cat, dog, house and bed, and there was no chance I would know how to spell them right!
I asked my 22-year-old gamer friend who has been a gamer since the age of 16 how his hobby has helped him. He told me how he learned so much historical information, especially pertaining to the middle ages.
He also claims to know everything about politics in Asia.
“Ask me any political question about any country in Asia– I know it!,” he said.
And that’s just a few of the things he was taught through games alone.
“I also learned a bunch of things on economy, and games also made me very interested in it,” he told me. “That is why I started to invest in stocks. I need to thank my gaming for the house I own today.”
Those two examples illustrate how much learning one can get from video and computer games.
How gaming can “save the world”
Let’s say someone got addicted to one of the games Jane McGonigal talked about (clickable link) in a lecture about gaming: for example, the one where you have to live in a world with oil shortage.
The player would learn a lot and therefore might be inspired to take a stand for the oil discussion in politics. In Norway, this is one of the biggest political issues we have.
More education on the subject would affect the voting in the political election. Electing a prime minister or a president is definitely one way to possibly change the world, or at least a country.
Another possible outcome of this particular example is that the gamer might actually become very engaged in politics about oil. Maybe he or she will become an activist, and therefore make an influence on others.
Gaming made me deeper
About a week ago I played an online simulation game on child soldiers for a school project. I already had a lot of knowledge on the subject before I started the game, so I thought it would be easy. When I started I realized it wasn’t hard, but it was definitely not easy.
In this game I had to take on a role as someone from the International Criminal Court (ICC), who was suppose to meet with Joseph Kony. As I did all my research for preparation to the meeting by talking to different people who had a different relationship to Kony, I got a lot of inside information.
This made me realize that the information I already had on child soldiers was shallow. Never had I heard it from someone who got tortured by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), someone who lost their loved ones when their camp was plundered and sat on fire or by a child soldier himself.
Through this game, I learned all the small, important things I never knew, and that I don’t think I would learn through a book or an article. Gaming is definitely learning by doing.
Computer games may not “save the world,” exactly, but it has the power to raise awareness and give knowledge. The way I look at it, knowledge is the way to change in this world, and I have no doubt that knowledge, among other things, comes from from gaming.