p.s. Video Games.

p.s.  Video games

Video games are viewed as learning tools in the lower grades and a major distraction in the older grades.  If the kids are so into it, there must be something there that hooks them. It could be the ever changing environments to keep boredom at a minimum.  It may be the escalating challenges that are layered (I’ve heard this described as the Mario vs. Link learning, more on this later,) or it could be the immediate feedback.  The multimedia barrage that is always exciting their senses keeps them engaged to a level we only dream for.

Whatever it is, we shouldn’t disregard all of it as useless.  In fact, the video game industry is a 99.6 billion dollar industry.  If we are looking for jobs for our students, game programmers and developers are a legitimate career field.  Don’t disregard multimedia as a valid development tool.  Video games are like shop class for some kids.  Pre-training for future careers.  Graphic Designers, animators, sound engineers, programmers, management, social media, and marketing are all possible career fields.  

Woodshop kids and programmer kids are both creators.  They just use a different medium to create.  

When we look at a future of bleak job opportunities due to automation we need to encourage kids to be creating and programming those robots instead of being replaced by them.  We’ve already seen robots take over most of manufacturing, just watch Discovery’s How It’s Made to see them at work.  We are training the computers thru traditional board games and the computers just keep getting smarter.  Now computers are moving into other fields and their learning modes are incredible, and we don’t understand how they do it!  

How do robotics relate to video games?  Playing games can lead to wanting a deeper interaction with games like Modding.  Modding is making modifications, for starters it can be programming changes within a game.  Minecraft calls it calls it cheats.  Modding or Cheat Codes are the first interactions some kids have with Coding.  Coding leads to programming the Autonomous robotics.  

How else is video games not pointless?

Surgeons have even had to start playing video games to train for laparoscopic surgeries!

Now, i’m not a fan of every video game.  In fact, i’m in the minority that I find most video games boring and lacking interaction.  But some games, I find to be incredibly challenging and inventive.  Minecraft is one of the better games with education potential.  Even though I do not play it myself, I’ve watched my kids, nieces, and nephews cooperate in really cool ways in Minecraft. My oldest son is the most obsessed with Minecraft.  I do not discourage him.   He read his first chapter books based on stories in the Minecraft universe.  He learned to research using books finding information he needs for his creations.  He has learned to research on the internet to find how get ideas and make stuff.  He has learned coding to make really cool things happen inside of Minecraft.  And the physical design of his builds are really, really cool.  The artistic aspects are beyond the what was capable when I was starting to program. In other words, his looks much cooler than mine ever did.  It makes me happy to see that he has something he’s into.  He’s interested in a career in software development.  Notice, I did not say, he wants to be a professional gamer, or ‘make games.’ He has researched what it takes to make Minecraft, a software developer.  

And as a parent, I think that’s pretty cool.

I want to share a vlog post (that’s video log, youtube) from John Spencer who is also discussing the uses of Minecraft in the classroom:  John Spencer MineCraft in the classroom

Here’s another: Wesley Goldman, 6th grader, Youtube Minecraft

Oh, just for fun, take a poll of your students and see who has their own youtube channel.  All 3 of my sons, age 11, 9, and 6 have youtube channels.

Mario vs. Link.

Yes, Link.  Zelda is the princess.

mario 4

I’m not sure where I heard this, there doesn’t even seem to be a youtube video on this.  But games tend to use 2 methods when introducing new challenges.  These two methods are based, famously, on Super Mario and Legend of Zelda.


Mario Learning Style:

Mario games introduce new challenges slowly.  For example jumping over a pit.

mario 6

Here you see Mario faced with a pit to jump over.  The pit is wide enough to present a challenge, but not wide enough to cause too much danger.  There are goombas that are poised to fall into the pit to show you that the pit is dangerous.  There is plenty of headroom so you can easily make the jump without much peril.


Later comes this:

mario 5

Summary:  Mario slowly scales up the difficulty level giving the player plenty of opportunities to practice.  This way the player feels confident enough to take on a challenge.  Mario learning increases the chance of success by slowly preparing the gamer for future challenges by making safe environments to practice skills.


Link Learning Style mario 3

Link learning style works differently.  In fact, it’s a method I enjoy.  Link Learning style introduces a new skill but immediately throws the player into a stressful situation.  For example, the first time you get a bow,  the boss battle begins.  You must use the bow to destroy the boss.  Now after the player is accustomed to using a bow, they find that that boss is relatively easy to defeat.  But the first time they fight the boss, they have to learn the new attack pattern of the boss.  Find the defensive pattern of the boss.  Learn to draw the bow.  Learn to shoot an arrow and learn to hit the target.  Even though this task may be easy, it is thrown on the player in a stressful situation.  This simple task of shooting the bow is made much more difficult by the context it had been introduced.


Summary:  Link learning introduces a simple concept in a new situation.  Students must then figure out how use a simple tool or concept in an environment that may seem chaotic at first.

 mario 21

Besides coding and programming, what two games have inspired more

kid drawn art than any other?  

mario 7


A few other notes (edit: 4-17-17)

A youtube video about games from a developer who worked in the white house.

What else:


minecraft edu

Adaptive Algebra

Teach Kids English and American culture at Trace Effects

Build space craft with Kerbal space program

Games and Learning Website

Ed tech games is always increasing funding.  There can be some great ideas on the horizon!

More edits: 4-21-17

Extra credits is a very popular web series that breaks down games. mostly video games.  Here is his message to his nephews on learning to love learning.

Mr. G
Follow me on: instagram @chad_g77 and @sv_blackhawks_NHS,  Twitter @PoppaG77 and @svblackhawk, Snapchat @chadg77, or join our Slack Channel svblackhawks.slack.com find my website at https://sites.google.com/a/svalley.k12.in.us/science-goldman/


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