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Video Games and Education (Education in the Face of a "Parallel School")

Miguel de Aguilera and Alfonso Mendiz
University of Malaga
ACM Computers in Entertainment

The 'big idea'

  • Games are frequently cast in a negative light by politicians, the media, etc
  • Yet many assumed links (to violence, for instance) don't show up substantially in research
  • Research has actually shown that games can be beneficial, useful for education
  • Numerous papers with mixed results are listed and briefly discussed

A brief history of attitudes towards games

  • Many people (politicians, educators, the media) accuse games of being harmful:
    • Promoting violent behavior, sexist attitudes, addiction
    • Many attitudes towards harmful effects of TV carry over
    • 'Moral panic' applied to video games
  • Video games previously viewed by many researchers to be a big time-waster; not a lot of serious attention

Literature review

  • Potential game benefits suggested by research:
    • Motor/visual
      • Spatial perception, abilities
      • Visual-motor coordination
      • Reflexes
      • Divided attention
      • Visual discrimination
    • Emotional/Affective
      • Motivation
      • Stress-relief
      • Confronting phobias
      • Teaching values
    • Intellectual
      • Learning language, math, reading, history
      • Awareness of one's abilities and limitations
      • Problem-solving
      • Hypothesis forming, testing
      • Critical thinking
      • Logical thought
      • Planning
    • Not enough to just educate the population about new media; need to rethink, or redefine the system


  • Opinions regarding the paper?
    • ?
  • Bias of article?
    • Underestimates potential value of games?
      • ?
    • Too optimistic about games in education? Dismisses criticisms too easily? Not critical enough of research into game benefits?
      • ?
  • Moral panic?
    • Is the negative press on video games purely an instance of moral panic?
      • ?
  • A matter of public opinion?
    • Assuming games have great potential, but have a bad (and undeserved) reputation, how can this be remedied?
      • ?
  • Rethinking education
    • What should be the role of video games in education now? In 10 years? In 50 years?
      • ?
    • Extreme (& far-fetched) example: Educational process as a series of interactive simulations or games. Is such a system possible?
      • ?
  • Limitations
    • What are the inherent limitations of video games for learning?
      • ?
    • Are they things they cannot effectively teach, that say, a textbook or lecture could?
      • ?
    • Behaviors? Social interactions?
      • ?