Video games, we love them as a source for entertainment but what happens when we use or apply them for educational purposes?
Traditionally, video games were viewed by our parents as something to “keep the kids quiet”. Those same values are held today by many parents, however, there has been a shift toward a different perspective on gaming in recent years. Games are now being viewed as educational tools, not just by colleges and universities, but by militaries and governments alike.
The earliest example of educational games could be games such as “Oregon Trail” (which you can play online for free now), whereby you played as a American frontiersman trying to reach the pacific in your wagon. This game taught children in the 80’s and early 90’s about the challenges facing people making this trip during this time, all while getting dysentery and dying.
In the 90’s, Microsoft developed “Flight Simulator”, a game that has been updated many times and is a game used by pilots as a training aid to help with many facets of operating aircraft. From ground operations to in-flight simulation.
The early successes and popularity of these games are further referenced in many new games released for the new generation of consoles, with games like Batman: Arkham Knight, the Fallout Series, Metal Gear Solid and children’s games such as Little Big Planet, all having educational and problem solving tasks incorporated into the story of the game.
In the Military, games like ArmA are used to simulate different facets of the battlefield and offer a safe environment for which soldiers can learn their craft without endangering their lives. Likewise for many air forces and navies, we have aircraft and ship simulators whereby pilots can hone their skills without the expense of operating aircraft and ships for training purposes only (the cost of a helicopter in the air for one hour = $5,000).
Games have become so embedded into the fabric of society that we don’t even see video games as “video games” anymore, but as events in their own right, just like a Hollywood blockbuster. Fallout for is released tomorrow and it’s comparable to the hype that has been building up for the upcoming Star Wars movie, yet the Fallout game will no doubt require players to solve problems and build items in the game, which has the potential to break the fourth wall (should the world die in nuclear fire and we have to scurry into vaults and use the skills we’ve learned in the nuclear wasteland to ward off feral ghouls and super mutants).