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How Playing Video Games Helps You Learn


Posted on Wed, 02/02/2011 - 11:22

Have you ever played a video game and found yourself thinking back to that game at a much later time? Did you find you could remember all the aspects of the game including the decisions you made and the results of those decisions? For most people the answer to both of those questions is a loud and clear "Yes". This is because video games incorporate several different learning types or modes. From the sounds there is auditory learning, the visual learning comes from watching the screen and the kinesthetic learning occurs because of the movement.

Now, think back to the last time you read an instructional text. Can you remember a specific paragraph, sentence or word? Do you ever find yourself thinking back to that particular text? If you are in the majority, your answer to these questions will be "No". This is because there was nothing besides the reading going on to help your memory, recall and to develop cognition or thinking about what you were reading.

Using video games in training simulations is not new. Serious game solutions have been used by pilots, law enforcement, engineers and city planners for years. Incorporating these types of activities into web-based learning adds to the users opportunity to not only experience the learning but to also retain the information for later use. Learning by doing is not always possible, but learning by simulated doing is not only probable by highly possible given the various types of virtual interactive learning available today.

While a computer cannot quite replace a human for responding, virtual world developers are able to create a set of responses to a given interaction that are as accurate as an actual human would give. This allows the learners using the simulation or video game to try out different approaches and solutions that may elicit a positive or negative from the other avatars or elements in the game. This trial and error method, complete with audio and text hints as well as feedback, is the same as learning by doing - at least to the human mind. In addition, there is no stress of making a mistake as you can simply replay the scenario and try a different option.

Each serious game used as a training scenario or a virtual world education will have its own sets of goals. The eLearning developer will structure the serious game to allow the learner to accomplish that particular learning objective. Unlike traditional video games there will be a significant element of reality in the games, designed to resemble the environment where the player will have to use the skills developed in the game in a real world event or activity.

The serious game will also have built in characters that are intelligent virtual characters. These characters, represented by high quality avatars are your coaches and supporters in the game, providing hints and information to assist with the learning required.  As you are actually immersed in the game it is just like practicing in real life, which provides a highly effective learning environment. In addition, the interaction with the AI or artificial intelligence in the game reinforces learning without requiring reading of text and data in a boring, forgettable way. Many of the new interactive 3D virtual serious games don't require a vast amount of pre-reading, which is a definite motivation for many learners. For a demonstration and more information on 3D serious games go to