Video gaming gets a bad rap. I believe a lot of people feel as though it’s unproductive and waste of time. Those that play video games, especially online video games, are stereotyped as being geeks or brainiacs. I think most of this stems from the older generation of adults who grew up without video games and see them only as a luxury item or a toy of sorts. That is the main reason why the subject matter of games and learning is so interesting. Traditionally, students would rather be playing video games than doing homework and now there is scholarly research around using video games as a learning tool? Who’s idea do you think that was, the student’s or the parent’s?
As we have studied games and learning throughout the semester and dissected a number of articles from various scholars, I cannot help but feel that this has been the elephant in the room, which perhaps as not really been addressed. Certainly, many of the authors have argued, in some cases rather defensively, for the use of gaming in education as well as a call for revamping the current education system. With these thoughts in mind, I decided to critique a short piece that discusses the psychology behind those that play video games. Specifically, our class’s online hypothesis discussion raised a question that I thought was interesting and, in which, I didn’t really have a good answer or opinion. In this day and age, video gaming is readily available to anyone who can access the internet. The truth is some of the stereotypes of video gamers are true (of course there must be a few instances for a stereotype to even be born) – there are some people who indulge in video gaming to the extent that it produces negative side effects, including addiction. The question I had, therefore, is that even though academia is finding positive utility for video games as a learning tool, when we implement them with our learners are we playing with fire?
Mark Griffiths, with the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, wrote the article titled, “Online video gaming: what should educational psychologists know?” that was published in the journal, Educational Psychology in Practice. Special thanks to Darren Blackman who pointed out the potential scholarly critique article from this cycle’s reading! This article provides an overview of the issues surrounding excessive video game play among young people. In this piece, Griffiths gives a clear and concise perspective on the differences in gaming and what the signs of addiction are. He also lists several benefits to video gaming and offers some advice to parents – who seem to contact him regularly regarding these issues.
My biggest takeaway from the article is that, just because someone likes to play video games an excessive amount of time, it does not mean that that person suffers from an addiction. Really, we need to understand the psychology behind addictions before we endeavor to make any bold claims. What is interesting, though, is that some of the advice Griffiths offers are some of the very same characteristics that are beneficial to learning such as encouraging kids to play video games in groups of people instead of alone. This allows the youth learn virtual interpersonal skills and conduct collective problem solving activities.
The article posits that any type of activity can lead to addiction. Some people play excessively simply because they can. That does not rule out the educational benefits that games can provide. Certainly prudence and moderation are important characteristics to maintain no matter what our undertaking.