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Pew Pew

To those who still don’t know, I am an avid gamer and have been all my life. From my first computer with Windows 3.1 in 2nd grade to my over indulged beast of a machine today, gaming has been a huge part of my life, despite the scrutiny that gamers often face. Is it really such a bad thing? I read an interesting story that shows a teachers first hand experience with a gamer. The kid was an average student with no extra curricular activities (wow could I relate) but would get home every night and level up his World of Warcraft character and lead his guild. What floored me was another teacher’s response – “No wonder he had such lousy grades”. Really?

I think far too many teachers and parents have not quite realized just how far video games have come since the days of Pong. No longer do gamers try and defeat a souless AI in game of chess (though still enjoyable), I have the opportunity, within 30 seconds, to load up a game and meet as many as 63 new people (more if the game is an RPG), immediately have something to talk about, find a small group of people to work with, and help achieve a common goal. I know my job in my squad and I do it for the benefit of my team. Responsibility is far more vital in games today then in the past. I have had one teacher in my life realize this and that was the only class in high school where I completed and enjoyed 100% of my assignments.

Much like playing that game of chess, gamers also develop some interesting mental tools. Many games, in particular Real-Time Strategy, require an enormous amount of critical thinking, analysis, decision making and planning. Sadly, these traits are too often overlooked (no matter how they are acquired) in schools. These traits often do not produce something tangible which teachers can assess but rather help the student grow individually.

I understand there are legitimate concerns involved with gaming. The percieved physical inactivity can cause health issues if not monitored, though I feel this is what is being addressed in future games, previewed by the Wii and it’s assortment of “active” games. I agree that the violence in games may be somewhat glorified but ESRB Ratings are there for a reason. Much the same way you wouldn’t allow your 8 year old child watch a rated R movie, ensure that he/she isn’t playing a rated M (Mature) game. As for the issue gaming vs. schools, the scrutiny gamers face often leads them to segregate their professional/scholastic life and their gamer life. I garuntee that the more effort teachers make in trying to combine the two identies that gamers have, the more successful these students will be.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. December 11, 2009 at 7:42 PM

    I’ll give you this one, but every time my son (the one in the TweetPic during the Grey Cup) got me to sit down and watch him play World of Warcraft I was subjected to extended episodes of him waiting for boats, riding strange beasts or flying across endless plains. He is off World of Warcraft and plays a dazzling array of games with such facility that I feel like I am watching a movie with him. To play these games requires an affinity to narrative and imagination.

    My fourth and fifth graders are consumed by professional wrestling and like watching the aggression of contact sports. A number of the boys played contact football in the city league. Video games might be sedentary at the moment, but the physical games have their own social flaws.

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