Hey, guys, I’m cutting and pasting Ava’s most recent comment into a post so I can see it as I reply to it…. Ava, hope you don’t mind. Ava wrote:
I checked out the PEW study. Interesting results. I picked out few quotes that to me summed up the main points of the study:
“’The stereotype that gaming is a solitary, violent, anti-social activity just doesn’t hold up. The average teen plays all different kinds of games and generally plays them with friends and family both online and offline,’ said Amanda Lenhart.”
“…the survey indicates that youth who have these kinds of civic gaming experiences are more likely to be civically engaged in the offline world. They are more likely than others are to go online to get information about current events, to try to persuade others how to vote in an election, to say they are committed to civic participation, and to raise money for charity.”
“The study also found that these civic gaming experiences occurred equally among all kinds of game players regardless of family income, race, and ethnicity. These data stand in contrast to teens’ experiences in schools and others community situations, where white and higher-income youth typically have more opportunities for civic development.”
After reading the study summary, I’m sold on the value of gaming. I’ve participated in simulations that were really great for my learning. My students play video games for fun during their breaks, and the activity is extremely social. They watch each other play, discuss strategy, and negotiate whose turn is next. My husband and his friends have been playing Civilations socially for years. After college they scattered to the four winds but each week they have a standing date to meet up on the internet and play together. They’ve each gotten more involved in history and sociology as a result. So I’ve seen some of these positive effects that gaming can have. (There are negative ones too–it can be really addicting.)
In my own classroom, we don’t play video games, but we have done some simulations, and they’re great. The kids get really into them and seem to learn a lot (depending on how transparent the simulation is). I’ve designed simulations in the past and they are really time consuming. I’m guessing that there aren’t a lot out of ready-to-go games out there right now.
I checked out the site http://www.watercoolergames.org/ which writes about different kinds of video games: educational, political, for advertisement etc. There were some interesting examples of educational video games being talked about on the site. There is a flood plain management agency that is putting out an RFP for a flood plain management simulation, and National geographic is involved with a video game about archaeological expeditions. A lot of the games on this site actually seemed more for adults than kids. I didn’t see anything that I could use in my classroom. At this point, I’m interested in learning some video game development platforms to start writing some simple games myself.