Videogames today often have a bad reputation. If you close your eyes and imagine a typical student’s afterschool day, you might picture an reclusive, rarely-seen-outside-of-her-room child staring unwaveringly at a screen as she plays the latest edition of Toca’s Hair Salon while concerned parents wait on the other side of her door. In fact, market research giant NPD reports that 91% of children and teens play videogames. However, although video games are played by the vast majority of students they should not be villainized, as a growing body of research shows that they can give education a big boost by engaging students through the medium they like best. Nonetheless, many disagree nonetheless, citing that not only do videogames metaphorically “rot the brain” but also induce violent crime. Yet other studies counter these claims, saying that violent videogames can actually be cathartic, reducing actual stress and violence. Like most things in life, how something is used determines its impact.
Curious ourselves about the place of videogames in the classroom, we recently attended the SXSWedu Conference in Austin where we had the chance to hear from several thought leaders in game-based learning (GBL). From ardent antagonists to faithful followers, there was no shortage of opinions on GBL. Our hope is that what we learned, will offer you a fresh perspective on what place (if any) videogames can play in your classroom.