Gaming has become one of the biggest industries that make more money than music, movies, and other forms of entertainment. The innovations this industry has witnessed over the last few decades has been both exciting and mind-boggling.
However, if we talk about the impact of games on kids, the industry often gets a bad reputation. The gaming industry, for a long time, has been blamed for promoting violent tendencies in kids. Numerous researches have been conducted on the impact of gaming on children’s health as well.
All in all, when it comes to learning and education, games are considered to be a spoilsport. For a long time, they failed to blend education and entertainment into what is often called ‘edutainment.’ The only purpose of games was to provide a leisure activity.
However, online games have come a long way. The innovation in the industry has led to new genres of games coming out. It is safe to say that the purpose of games has also changed now.
Now a day, games are designed to foster learning in kids and improve their mental and social skills. These games appeal to the children by blending learning with fun so that while they are playing games, they also learn about new concepts.
The idea of interactive and highly-engaging learning is not new. An ancient Chinese proverb says;
“Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.”
However, there is a gap between the passive and outdated learning methods and a generation that lives a user-controlled and gamified lifestyle. Online games try to bridge that gap by offering a highly interactive and engaging environment where learning is not viewed as a disruptive burden.
How are online games making learning fun?
Parents and teachers have been trying to pull kids away from computers and smartphones in favor of more educational activities. However, this trend is gradually changing now.
Apart from the fun factor, games can also put kids on the path to learn and experience new things. How exactly, you ask? Read on to find out.
Controlled environment for experimentation
Experiment lies at the root of scientific knowledge, and some online games offer a productive environment for experimentation. Instead of merely reading a textbook, kids can get involved in a more engaging activity by experimenting with the basic concepts in a controlled environment.
These games provide the optimal playground for experimentation because they offer a low-risk environment where kids can freely try new things. For instance, mixing chemicals in a lab can be dangerous, especially for kids, but the activity can be fun and harmless when performed in an online game.
An example of such a game is the Kerbal Space Program. The game allows players to design rockets and completer tasks like escaping the atmosphere and exploring other planets.
While the game won’t turn the player into an astronaut, it does an excellent job of teaching the basic concepts that could fuel interest for further learning in kids.
Games design experiences
A key benefit of online games is that they design experiences rather than ‘bland’ learning of stuff. They facilitate learning by letting kids ‘do’ it, instead of just reading about it. Think of games like Assassin Creed and Oregon Trail – both games are developed around historical events.
Oregon Trail teaches school children about the realities of life on the Oregon Trail. Instead of reading about the trail in a history book, the game allows kids to experience the journey by taking the role of wagon leader on the historic Oregon Trail.
This approach helps kids to develop an understanding of the events and properly learn about them. It also helps them learn from their failures, which can prepare kids to face real-world issues. We could argue that game-based learning can be used as a tool to improve kids’ critical thinking to solve problems.
Online games facilitate collaboration
Children love working or playing together. It is not only more fun, but it also distributes the workload. Collaborative projects encourage kids to develop their perspectives and analyze those of their co-players.
Collaboration is an essential life skill that kids can learn from online multiplayer games. By playing together with friends as a team player, games help players to develop this vital skill and prepare for the future workforce.
Games can adapt to individual learners
Online games can cater to different styles and individual learner’s needs. Many games include multiple levels of play, which modifies the gameplay based on the level of difficulty. So, several kids may play the same game but experience it at a different level.
These games also incorporate kids with deficiencies and provide an equal learning opportunity to all of them. Some games determine the kid’s level by taking a pre-test and then adjusting the game based on the answers the kid provides.
Games stimulate healthy competition
Healthy competition can be rewarding for kids. Several studies show that competition encourages kids to work and study further and, in the process, boost their confidence. When competitions are introduced in the form of games, it makes the entire learning process fun and engaging.
Group competitions encourage teamwork and hone soft skills. The key to motivation is winning the game while remaining challenged by competitors. Online games motivate players via fun, which is a significant part of the natural learning process in human development.
Most online games offer an environment that uses fantasy to arouse curiosity. They are designed primarily for entertainment with incidental learning. Learning is intentional only when the player wants to become a better gamer.
Take the example of an online gaming platform MiniMe 500c. It features educational videos and games for kids. The purpose of these videos and games is to engage kids in a fun activity while also making them learn about new topics.
This approach makes gaming more fun as players are introduced to new topics and concepts without them even realizing it. This is what keeps their interest in these games.
For a field of study that is as young as online gaming, the progress it has made in the education sector is impressive. Although no one can deny the fun and entertainment that they bring, the learning factor of online games can no longer be ignored.