Video Games: 25+ Things Your Kids Learn From Gaming

Video games are powerful tools for learning, even if they seem just designed for entertainment. Since these are here to stay and have started to permeate into other areas of our lives, it’s important for us to be willing to see the amazing way that gaming can be used for education.

Family Playing Video Game

Family Playing Video Games by DenisNata on BigStockPhoto.com

  1. If you’ve ever had to pack groceries or fill a moving truck with all your belongings, you know the skill of spatial awareness is vital. Old-school games like Tetris provide a great way to master this.
  2. Countless games require problem-solving in some manner, such as finding the pattern of the boss’ attacks so you can defeat him, figuring out which spell counters another, completing a task in a specific order to be able to open a door or get a prize, or knowing exactly when to jump in order to make it across a gap.
  3. Once upon a time, gaming controllers consisted of a cross-shaped pad with directional arrows and two small buttons in order to navigate and interact with the game. Now, game controllers have many, many buttons combined with joysticks, arrow pads, and touch screens – each with its own specific action or function. Being able to remember what button does what and how to push it when without stopping to think about it is an amazing skill all on its own. As gaming gets more complicated, so does the dexterity skill required to play.
  4. The worlds that games are played in now are incredibly complex and stimulating as well. Being able to master your response time in order to react to things in time and using your hands to do the action you need to do within that environment is key – or else, it will be game over. Hand-eye coordination is vital to success. Plus, visual awareness is heightened through games. You have to be able to both pay attention to the entire screen at once while still focusing on one general section for the action or information that you need. Some games have an almost unbelievable amount of menus and macros on them, requiring you to be able to figure out where to look when you need something specific.
  5. Video game use lots and lots of math. It can be as basic as understanding an HP bar and that when you reach 0, you are dead. It can be as complex as understanding how the stat boosts on your gear affect your attacks and defense.  From how many more experience points you need to level up, how many more materials you need to craft something, the trajectory of your gun shot, how many stars you’ve collected, to figuring out statistics – math is everywhere.
  6. When you play a multi-player game, it is extremely more important to have good communication with other players.  If it’s team play, then you definitely need to make sure everyone knows their roles in teh game in order to be successful. Understanding how to properly work as a team is the only way to defeat games. It requires someone to take a leadership role while others take support roles, but each player is dependant on each other. For example, a team that has all warriors to fight a battle might sound great, but without someone to heal them, there’s a good chance they won’t survive too long. Each player is required for maximum success and without them, the team suffers.
  7. Failing sucks. It can be incredibly hard to respond to losing in a positive way. Playing video games is a good way to develop good sportsmanship skills – even if they aren’t mastered right away.
  8. Many adventure games include a map of some sort.  Mapping skills are needed to figure out where to go to complete quests, fight specific monsters, get to the next part of the storyline, find your team, etc.
  9. Anytime you are stuck in a game, the opportunity to develop research skills comes into play: learning how to find walkthroughs, videos, and guides on getting past your struggles.
  10. If you need to communicate with people in-game and you don’t have a microphone, you need to learn how to type. Online conversations develop speed and accuracy so that you can get across what you need to properly. In order to make some games work the way you want, you need to type in specific instructions – creating the need for proper spelling to be successful.
  11. Gaming encourages adaptability. Being able to change your strategies on the fly, or retrain yourself to use a different set of controls on the same controller for different games means that you force your brain to be flexible.
  12. The study of history, geography, warfare, physics, chemistry, geology, and much more can be found through games. For example, the Assassin’s Creed series offers some breathtaking worlds for you to explore in extreme detail- such as the Notre Dame Cathedral or the Great Pyramids. Minecraft requires players to learn about different kinds of gems and rocks. In games that use elemental magic, understanding how the elements affect each other gives you an understanding of which spell to cast when.
  13. They are a great jumping point for non-gaming activities, for example, kids often are curious about how to code and program because of the games they’ve played. Gamers who love Japanese video games may decide to learn how to read and speak Japanese. Minecrafters may want to see what the rocks they find in the game look like in real life. Kids who love weapon based games may be curious about different kinds of weaponry and attempt to make their own or find an interest in blacksmithing. Crafty kids can be inspired to create art on their favourite characters and writers can write stories based in the worlds they love to play in.
  14. Many video games have some kind of currency usage, which encourages the idea of financial responsibility and economics. Often games start you off by making money very slowly, meaning that you have to be careful in what you buy, and force you to think about how to make more money to get the gear or items you want.
  15. Music is a huge part of the gaming experience. Even without formal music training, kids can realize the effect that music has on situations just by playing games – high energy, fast tempo music for battle sequences, happy and lively music for cities, heavy sounding music to represent bad guys, soft gentle music to represent love, etc.
  16. Even young kids can understand the importance of story development in a good game. For example, Princess gets kidnapped – Hero has to save her. Games with storylines can demonstrate the hero’s journey and the idea of climax and resolution.
  17. Any game that requires you to raise, feed and tend for a creature is an introduction to animal husbandry.
  18. If you reach a spot that seems incredibly impossible to complete, gaming can teach you to understand your limits and how to walk away before you explode, followed by resetting yourself to try again and be persistent – never giving up on things because they seem too hard.
  19. Abstract thinking is important in games. If you get stuck in a linear way of thinking and only are willing to consider one option as the only way to do things, you will get stuck very quickly. Thinking outside the box and coming up with new solutions is a great part of gaming. In fact, did you know that scientists released a game to the online gaming community and gamers solved the puzzle in 3 weeks that researchers had been trying to solve for 13 years?
  20. Games that allow free-space (or sandbox options) foster high levels of creativity. Often these worlds aren’t restricted to the same levels of physics and logics that we have in our world, allowing for some really unique and inspirational designs.
  21. Since video games tend to have unexpected and sudden events happen, they require one-the-fly, quick thinking reactions and decisions. Do you jump left or right? Do you pick up the torch or stay in the dark? Do you check that treasure chest or leave it alone? Do you attack that monster or run away? These choices also lead to another skill – understanding cause and effect. If you do this thing, this happens.
  22. Gaming involves reading. With the youngest of players, they learn early how to recognize the words “play” and “save.” Older gamers need to read narrative texts, quest instructions, tutorial steps, walkthroughs, etc. There are lots of other language connections too – like how monsters are often named after beasts in world mythology.
  23. Using games is a great way to memorize things – like facts for various subjects – or to just stretch those memory muscles and elasticity. It keeps your brain in shape.
  24. Programs like virtual reality allow gamers to develop skills without being right in the action. This makes job training much safer. For example, learning how to pilot an airplane, or how to handle military situations.
  25. Depending on the game, and how you play it, there are lots of opportunities to be physically active while gaming – whether it be from jumping up and down while playing, or practicing your boxing, or following along with an aerobics instructor.

This post is part of a 10 day series all about learning through every experience.  Join me as we look at different ways kids learn outside of a textbook and workbook – just by experiencing life.

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