Can Video Games teach you more than School?

Growing up Video games were a huge part of my life. It's what I did for fun, and I had quite a few friends and family members who enjoyed playing them with me. Most of the time I'd spend the afternoon before homework playing through something like MegaMan X, and weekends I'd run over to my cousin's house to play whatever games they had on their N64. My parents would play some games from time to time as well, but they both knew that sooner or later they'd have to make me put the controller down to do what I was supposed to. My school work.

I didn't like school as a kid. I was the quiet one who was only there because I had to be. Things got better in middle school and high school when I made real friends for the first time, but until then it wasn't something I cared about. Learning about all these subjects like Math and Reading? When was I ever going to use any of that!? Or writing? Especially writing. What was the point? Why did I need to learn grammar, and then write those stupid paragraphs? Completely useless, and I'd never use any of those skills in my life... Yeah...

Anyway, I feel like my outlook on school wasn't much different than any other kid. It was something I had to do, and the sooner I got done with things, the more video games I could play. What I and my parents didn't realize at the time, was something a bit surprising. 

It's a crazy thought, but what if - what if I was actually learning from the games I played? What if I was learning more than I even realized because of said games? Looking back now, that's exactly what happened.

Games vs School:

To answer the question of "Can Video Games teach you more than School?" the answer is no. Unless you are playing full on learning games (such as the good old Jump Start series), then you aren't going to be learning as much as you would actually going to class. Even then, these learning games cannot cover everything, but instead help you practice or help you understand the concepts. And honestly, that's mainly what school is great for. 

All of these classes you feel are pointless, or you'll never need in life, they ultimately teach you to understand different ideas and concepts as a whole. While you may never need to hand calculate the area of an odd shape, you at least understand what an "area" actually is. This is why school is important, and so are all of these "pointless classes." In combination with this however, video games can add to your existing knowledge.

Help with Reading:

As a kid reading really was my least favorite subject. We had to read books I had no interest in, and I struggled to understand what words were as well as their meaning. Reading wasn't a good time at all, and making me read more books didn't help. What did help however? Pokemon! I still believe if it weren't for Pokemon, I would've lagged behind for much longer. 

The thing about text heavy RPGs like Pokemon is the fact that your only option is to read. You have to read what characters say to you, you have to read the menus and understand the menu options, you have to read and in turn based RPGs you also have to read and comprehend what the attacks are. Sometimes you spend more time reading in these games than you actually spend playing, and along the way you are sure to come across new words you've never seen before. But guess what? Thanks to the game you now understand said new words! 

Talking to a friend once about the subject, he brought up the Pokemon move "Fissure." What's a fissure? When did we ever talk about that in school? It's things like this that will teach us without us even realizing it! And unlike school that forced us to read a boring book we don't care about, Pokemon is a game we were playing by choice.

Interested in History:

History classes in school can be both fun or boring. A lot of the classes I had to take were usually the latter, but I had one teacher who made World History one of my favorite classes. He didn't just teach the material, he incorporated each student into the stories, and our WWI unit had us outside the school learning how to march! Considering he himself has done multiple tours over seas, he knew what he was doing. That class was one of the few times I actually remembered everything being taught. As for all the other history classes though? I had a hard time caring. Video games changed that for me though.

While it isn't 100% historical accurate, games like the Assassin's Creed series is a great way to learn about different time periods and historical events, and gets you interested in things you've never once thought to look at! I didn't know much about the Renaissance from high school, and when AC2 came out I was actually in a Music History class covering just that in college. For me it was the perfect combination of the game building up interest in me, and the class expanding upon things I had already came across for myself. It was actually pretty crazy how much of AC actually carried over into that class, and by the end of it all I had learned a lot more than I ever did in high school. Of course it didn't just stop there!

Future Assassin's Creed titles continued to teach me things I never knew, while others reminded me of my school days but actually held my interest this time. Even games like Call of Duty with their WWII settings became an interesting look inside what it was like during the war, and more niche series like Fate peaked my interest in learning who these historical characters actually were. In theses cases I found myself doing more research into the actual events and people to understand it better, but it's because of the games I had any desire what so ever. Sure, not every game will resonate with everyone playing it to the point they want to do additional reading, but there's no denying that even seeing these historical settings have at least some impact on you. Did you know anything about the Mongol invasion of Japan? Go play Ghost of Tsushima then answer that question.

Math & Problem Solving:

Problem Solving is a very important skill, and it's one that has a heavy focus in Math classes. The thing is, most video games out there are about the very same thing! Video games are loaded with puzzles, and the more realistic ones relate to the real world more than you might realize.

When it comes to the Math aspect, the reality is that video games are all numbers. Health bars, damage, how much your defense stat blocks said damage, and attack power in general? All of this is Math. You understand that getting hit means your  health is going to be subtracted, and that subtraction is going to be some sort of calculation determined by a formula that takes into account attack power and your defensive stat. Again this is something you see in RPGs more than anything, but it applies to all games. Mario has HP of 1, he eats a mushroom and now has HP set to 2. Enemy hits Mario = HP is now 1 and Mario is small. Mario gets hit again and now HP = 0 and Mario is dead. You've also just subtracted a life so you've gone from 4 down to 3. Like it or not, it's all Math! (We're not even going to get into the algebra formulas that is IVs and EV training in Pokemon along with Pokemon nature.)

On the flip side, one of the most popular problem solving games currently is The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, as well as it's followup Tears of the Kingdom. Both of these games rely on your knowledge of the world to solve your issues, and advance through the game. Rather than the game telling you exactly what you need to do, or expect you to handle something one way - it lets you tackle it from any angle you can think of, and this often relies on concepts you might've learned during your school days.

One example is ways to cross a gap or a river. You could build a boat and float it across, or you could do something like cutting down a tree and building a bridge. Another option is the use of fire, which is something you might not normally think about. Setting the grass on fire below you will create enough of an updraft so that when you glide over it, you will get launched higher into the air instead of falling into said flames. It's the same principal as a hot air balloon, and it's something that the game will eventually teach you if you didn't already know how this works. Other puzzles as well require you to think outside the box, and come up with answers that could be taught in school, but most likely never will be. It's a unique game for sure, and it's also not the only one out there to do this. Again, most games are problem solving, and you'll learn more and more as you go.

And that's not all

Honestly there are many ways games can benefit you, and teach you. The medium is so large with a wide verity of genres that it's impossible to cover everything you might come across. Music games can serve as a great introduction to the world of music, action games help improve hand eye coordination, multiplayer games can teach you the value of teamwork, and sometimes games are just full on novels that will help improve your reading speed and reading skills in general. 

There's a lot out there, and all of it will teach you in a natural way. There's no studying required to play these games (not that it doesn't help sometimes), and overcoming new challenges prepares you for whatever might come next. In these ways games can really help you and teach you in ways that school never will! But that doesn't mean games will ever be a replacement for school. So sorry kids, but your school work is still important. Maybe you can convince your parents to give you a little more game time though? It's not going to rot your mind like they think it will.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post