Several public institutions question the use of video games because of their bad press, but also, more concretely, many parents who question the time spent by young people in this little-known culture. The games represented as a ” waste of time ” are comparable in some respects to the negative image of other passive cultural consumptions such as television, cinema, etc.
On the other hand, the scientific literature begins to question this passivity and this idea of ”waste of time” in order to propose a more nuanced image of the play activity. One of the best known scientists in the field, Jane McGonical , goes so far as to say that society should spend more time playing video games . According to her, an increase in playing time would allow society to be better equipped to respond to the problems of our time.
In reading the literature on the formative facet of video games, two schools of thought stand out: A) games are intrinsically educational and B) games are potentially educational. In the first case, the game is a problem-solving simulator and in the second, the game must have specific educational objectives to be a trainer.
Camp A: The game as intrinsic motivator
According to Camp A, the games would develop critical problem-solving skills such as co-ordination, communication with others, acceptance of failure, optimism of possible success, learning through steps, self-confidence, the iterative process, etc.
In his book, James Paul Gee refers to 36 gains that video games can provide as a method of learning.
” By playing video games, players learn new literacies. ”
– James Paul Gee
Is it really hard to believe? The 500 million players around the world use a significant portion of their cognitive skills to solve problems all day long and become experts in understanding highly specialized and structured systems. They search for information online, develop problem-solving systems of alarming complexity, pass on their skills and modify the game code to offer a new design, a new balance in the forces, etc.
By using their cognitive resources to understand structures, young people will also participate in a new form of learning. Where school, movies, and books develop a linear, linear understanding (from point A to point B), the games help to address a reactive systemic understanding (consequences of variable A on system B).
Source: “Be a Gamer, Save the World.” Op-Ed. Wall Street Journal. January 21, 2011
” By the end of their adolescence, young Westerners will have spent as much time playing games as they are in school. ”
– Jane McGonical
According to Ms. McGonical, this is also the aspect that the games bring out the best of oneself . In the game, players are successful heroes even after experiencing failure, a skill that is also sought after in real life. Nevertheless, the question remains: how to transform all this potential?
This is what many serious games are trying to do, with more and more important successes. 57,000 players joined to write an article for Nature magazine from an experience in a game. The ” Across Africa Bookstores ” were developed after being founded virtually in an online game.
Camp B: The serious game for clear goals
According to Camp B, games should be designed around clear learning objectives to be useful in the context of learning. For some, there is a dichotomy between the less useful commercial game and the serious game .
Serious games, topics very popular in the world of education, are becoming more and more used in cultural institutions. According to Julian Alvarez , “The serious game is a computer application, whose objective is to combine at the same time serious aspects such, in a non-exhaustive way, the teaching, the learning, the communication, or the information, with playful springs from the video game. “So this is a new iteration of the educational game that is an alternative to teaching, a new media transmitting information.
Are all games a place of learning?
In public institutions, serious games take place much more quickly than video games: the McCord Museum , the Ministry of France and Éduc’alcool successfully offered these games. Science at stake , the free serious game with the largest scale in Quebec is funded completely by public subsidies.
In these games, learning is usually, but not always, done by simpler, more concrete and more focused learning mechanics. The McCord Museum Games want to show historical aspects of the nineteenth century, Cyberbudget wants to explain the structure of the French budget and Forestia wants to promote the profession of forest engineer to the youngest.
This is also the case of the game I’m creating right now for the Montreal Public Libraries, the Treasury of SOS Devoirs , which wants to help learn navigation in SOS Devoir.
And you, do you believe that camp A (intrinsically formative) or camp B (potentially trainer) could save the world?
PS: Camp A, Camp B, I think I played too much at Contra … B, A
Why should there necessarily be 2 camps? In life, we do not just work or have fun, we need moments of reflection and moments of rest. The video game must work in the same way: to propose levels where the reflection is put to the test and levels where it is more the agility, but also purely playful levels to relax.
I would go so far as to say that camp B can be harmful to video games. Today, many young people no longer read because they view the book as a school object, and if you try to impose the video game in the same way, then it will end up being rejected.