Chapter 6 - Educational Videogames: An Overview
In recent years much attention has been drawn to the design and development of educational videogames, that is, digital games designed to achieve direct learning objectives on a specific subject. Many field researchers conclude that well-designed educational videogames could enhance the learning process in a more interactive, attractive and engaging way for students.
Therefore, educational videogames and their well-planned inclusion in the educational content, could potentially become a valuable learning tool, both for students and teachers. However, the inclusion of educational videogames in the teaching process is still very limited in many countries, for different reasons. The most prominent among them is that the majority of teachers lack the necessary knowledge about the educational videogames that could be effective for specific subjects and how these games should be introduced in the classroom. Aiming to reinforce the systematic use of educational videogames in classroom, this Chapter begins with a review of educational videogames in terms of technology, learning theories as well as domains of application and paradigms of use.
“Imagine if kids poured their time and passion into a videogame that taught them math concepts while they barely noticed, because it was so enjoyable.”
July 11, 2012,
in his speech to the Education Commission of the States’ National Forum on Education Policy
But what is 'Game'? Game is a physical or intellectual activity with competitive features that is structured, has specific rules and has been designed to entertain and/or reward the players (Zyda, 2005).Main features of a game, other than rules, are achievements, challenge, and interaction (Wikipedia).
If the player interacts with a system that uses electronic components then the game is called electronic or digital. A form of digital games is videogames. In this kind of games, the interaction effects are at least visual and appear on devices such as the screen of a computer or television.
Gaming can teach children fundamental skills, such as problem solving, adaptation in situations, following rules, goal hunting and, in certain cases, collaboration and social interaction with peers. Educators, parents and policy makers have started realizing that any form of gaming is not only a psychological need for children because it is entertaining and relaxing, it is also educative.
Videogames have become a very popular and widespread leisure time activity for children. With videogames increasing in popularity, it would be wise for teachers and, eventually, education systems, to try to efficiently integrate games in the educational procedure as an additional learning tool.
Educational videogames can be categorized with respect to genre, time aspects, technology, platforms, learning theories as well as domains of application, and paradigms of use. Apart from the integration of an educational videogame into a specific educational context, it is equally important to examine the underlying learning theory applied by the game designers. Various educational videogames have been created based on well-known learning theories, therefore the design and development of an educational videogame requires a multi-disciplinary team, including software programmers, experts in learning theories, game and graphic designers, as well as educators with expertise on the specific learning subject addressed by the videogame.