Games and the gaming myth

Games and the gaming myth

A number of years ago I saw Jane McGonigal speak at a conference. I came away with some new notions and thoughts. This in turn lead me to want to know more. I purchased her book “Reality is Broken” and read it, and while I still have some reservations I now look at games in a new light.

Games are changing the way kids interact and think. As a parent I have often bemoaned the hours spent in front of the screen playing games. And yes, I have been known to state on more than one occasion “why don’t you go outside and hike a mountain or build something?” However, once I kind of started to set aside some of my preconceived notions about games and joined my son, I began to realize that there may be more going on.

Now, I want to preface this with the notion that not all games are good and anything when done in excess is probably not good either. Moderation is the key for me.  I joined my son on Sid Meyer’s Civilization game and was blown away by the depth of knowledge, thinking and problem solving that he had developed in what is a very complicated game on many levels. Lately I have been very interested in what  Mindcraft Edu is doing to to not only empower kids but all teach them code with Microsoft’s new make code language (visual javascript really).

Games are changing and can (as some studies have shown) really teach kids new techniques and problem solving. The ability to fail at something, learn from it and then try again is a core tenet in both gaming and what I want my kids to apply to everyday leaning and life. So, here are a couple of things that just might get you thinking.

First is a TED talk from Jane McGonigal in which she promises to give you 7.5 minutes longer of life, and who doesn’t want an extra 7.5 minutes?

The second is a very recent link to 11 games that where just honored for social impact as featured on the School Library Journal.

Lastly, a couple of games that I have really enjoyed for the storyline and problemsolving. (not to mention the soundtrack and artwork).

The Room game – a erie problem solving open the box kind of game. No people or monsters – just get the box open. Available on Google Play and the App Store.

Monument Valley game – A 3-dimensional game that has amazing artwork, soundtrack and simple story line. At the core, again a problem solving spacial game. Available only on the Apple App Store.

Dare I say… get to gaming (a bit that is).

2 thoughts on “Games and the gaming myth

  1. Thank you for your great post! I am have seen Jane McGonigal speak at a conference and I really enjoy her talks. I like how she takes the social norms of thought about gaming and flips the perspective. It is so easy to just follow the same narrative about gaming, but there are true benefits to gaming as she says. I love playing games with my boys and they love it too! No, we don’t do it for hours at a time, but the 30-45 minutes we do spend gaming truly strengthens our bond. I feel the same away about watching shows together and finding answers to questions online an on YouTube. Technology can be used a babysitter and kids certainly can spend hours consuming technology. But it is up to parents to “plug in” with their kids and use technology as a way to connect with their kids. It is not the games or technology’s fault. It is the humans interaction with the technology that matters.

    Thank you also for the tips on games! I have downloaded them already.

  2. Jake, you hit it straight on the button. I wish I would have had your opinion a number of years back when my son was gaming a bunch. It was (is) a hard adjustment to make to realize the learning potential of games. I commend you for take on it with your boys. Let me know what you think of the games.

    Note: I had heard about Monument Valley, but it wasn’t until I saw Frank Underwood as the US president in House of Cards playing it that I really looked into it, then I got hooked. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-rMd2eR04o

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