Good Video Games and Good Learning

Image by IGN.

This title was not chosen by accident. It’s also the title of a book by one my favorite writers, James Paul Gee. The key point studied by Gee is that all video games are learning machines, and not only the educational ones. While good educational games can also teach facts, games in general have a greater [and more general] purpose: they can help us learn to learn and think in a more efficient way. So, every game [not only digital or preprogrammed games, but also games that we create in our minds] is a opportunity to improve our thinking since you are all the time inputing data, interpreting  the information that is given by the game and rethinking strategies. In other words, most you do in games is deal with all kinds of problems and solving them.

But I’m not bringing Gee up just to talk about his theory [that will get a complete post soon!], but to point out how rare schools or universities take advantage of this potential games have. Therefore, when University of Florida anouces that its 21st Century Skills course will use StarCraft to stimulate “critical thinking, problem solving, resource management, and adaptive decision making.” its quite thrilling.

The game will be used because “in StarCraft you’re managing a lot of different units and groups of different capacities. It’s not a stretch to think of that in the business world or in the work of a healthcare administrator” according to Nate Polling, who teaches the class.