Why there should be video games in every classroom.
Marco Visscher | December 2007 issue
Invariably, the people who criticize video and computer games grew up without Nintendo, PlayStation or Atari. The sometimes-heated discussions about games are a typical example of a generational conflict, Will Wright recently told the British newspaper the Guardian.Wright is the creator of The Sims, the bestselling computer game of all time.
Wright has a valid point. After all, not so very long ago, the impending moral decline of our youth was linked to the rise of films, comic books and rock ’n’ roll. Nowadays, video games are tied to social isolation, violence and other problems. Such accusations reveal that these critics have little clue about what draws young people to video games in the first place.
The games tap into our creativity and improve analytical thinking, problem-solving skills and the ability to manage risk. This makes the games exciting and attractive. And these are precisely the qualities needed to succeed in our modern, complex society. They are also the qualities young people so often find lacking in the dry teaching materials used in their schools.
Video games present a wonderful opportunity for educational reform. But the generational conflict Wright points to stands in the way. Complex mathematical theories, history lessons, discoveries in physics and even German verb conjugation can be learned in much more fun, exciting, interactive and creative ways using games instead of conventional textbooks that are all about one-sided communication.
Despite the resistance, video games are making headway in the educational system. After all, everyone knows what happens with generational conflicts: They naturally
fade away. That happened just recently, in fact, when the young comic-book readers, moviegoers and rock ’n’ roll music lovers grew up and made all those things their parents didn’t like part of ordinary life.