Why educators don’t like video games

Here’s a research topic: the effects of video games on low income households.

We often think of games as this epic thing that will “revolutionize learning” but we forget that it’s also a “pangmayaman” hobby. And I’m not only talking about the barrier to entry, mahal talaga maging gamer. Pero the cost of game addiction is even more real for a masa gamer (the type who plays dota in the internet shops all day). A game addict rich kid can afford safety nets to keep them from the downward spiral (parent moves you to a different school, parent finds time to play with kid), but for a masa gamer kid once you get adik wasak ka na.

Then there’s also the idea that game addiction is a form of escapism. That the reason someone gets addicted is because they are trying to escape from real world problems. Eh di that makes you very vulnerable, masa gamer.

A few years back (when Reality Is Broken was just coming out), I had this conversation with an old teacher about games and education, something she said stuck to me to this day (paraphrasing):

The brilliant minds I meet these days are what you would call “gamers” or at least someone adept at playing them. But I have also seen dumb students get dumber because of video games. Is that how games work, it makes smart kids smarter and dumb kids dumber?

I was dumbfounded. The easy response would be to say that who the educator calls “dumb” may just be someone who doesn’t fit in the educational system and that the skills developed in video games cannot be easily translated to getting high grades in the classroom. But it’s not that simple in reality. For a public school masa child, getting high grades ensures him a spot in the special class where the best teachers the public education system can afford teach. This system goes all the way up to college. Video games like any other addicting hobby leads kids down a slippery slope of a broken educational system.

That video games gets in the way of our education system is where the educator’s stigma against video games originates.

for more thoughts on educational games, clik the pic

I see two ways people are trying to fix this: either our education system changes and start looking at video games equally as they see books or movies or music (that is as a valid expression of culture rather than addicting hobbies) OR people start making games that is more fit with the current system.

The former is bound to happen. As a generation who grew up with video games starts  taking over education, the stigma will ease itself out naturally.

The later, however is why I have a problem with the way some “educational” games are being made. The biggest mistake you can make as a game designer making games for education is to perpetuate the idea that a game is less educational because it didn’t feature lessons from chapter 3 of a Biology textbook.

Video game legitimacy will come naturally. As game creators we only have to make sure that when that day comes, we have built a library worthy of study and research.

One response to “Why educators don’t like video games”

  1. Interestingly I don’t think that this just applies to games, but other forms of entertainment/leisure like reading books/comics, watching movies/tv, listening to music etc.

    Given the current state of our country its understandable that most parents want their children to purse careers that are seemingly practical. Hence my parents wanted me to be a doctor/lawyer (either/or, not a hybrid build). But I was just more attuned to my creative side, and enjoyed readin, playing video games, etc.

    One time my mom burst into my room and yelled “Wala ka nang ginawa kung di magbasa! Bat di ka mag-aral?!” (All you ever do is read! Why don’t you study?!). To which I replied, “you’re lucky I don’t smoke or do drugs!” She calmed down after that.

    The point is it’s sometimes hard nga to make the connection between leisure activities and future income level. My mom couldn’t see the point of my reading, but I can see now that reading increased my vocabulary and improved my (written) communication skills, which have been very useful to me, especially now that I’m generally working with English speaking foreigners.

    I’d even argue that my skill as an artist matters less than my skill as a communicator when it comes to my freelancing career.

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