Chapter 6: 21st-century media and issues
6.5.4 Video games in the world of education (research essay)
Anonymous English 102 Writer
The relationship between education and new technologies, more specifically video games, has long been debated about and judged without a full understanding of the actual potential of the combination of the two. New methods such as using video games as an education tool are almost always overlooked by educators even though they may be missing out on a niche form of education that can keep students far more engaged in the subject they are learning while also encouraging them to continue learning because they are also having fun. It is also often overlooked that playing video games can potentially in some way increase the players’ skills in communication through the usage and improvement of communication required in some games. I share the belief that video games have great potential to be used as a tool for education if more educators would give them a shot and test them out. I also believe that video games have very high potential to improve the communication skills of those who play them. There are also many researchers and educators who share these beliefs and would like to see the use of video games as an education tool more widespread in the future. Many of these researchers and educators that believe in the use of video games as an education tool are of this opinion because they have tested this on students and found results that sway them to see the potential of this form of teaching. Though obviously video games could never become a primary education tool or mainstream form of communication, I think that video games could be utilized well as a form of education and that they could be used by many as a way to improve their communication skills.
Personally, I think video games have a good positive effect on the communication skills of those who play them. I have been playing video games for a large portion of my life and I think the form of communication within some of the more competitive games can have an effect on my communication skills. I think they do this by forcing the player to communicate in the typical form of the game which then have an effect on real world communication skills. In my experience, this increase in communication skill comes from the specific form of communication that happens in competitive video games. This includes games such as one of my personal favorites, Call of Duty Warzone. In order to communicate effectively, the players must communicate through quick and effective bursts of information. In Warzone, my teammates and I must communicate quickly to tell each other important information such as the location of enemies, or where to find valuable resources such as weapons, ammunition and armor. I can do this by either talking to the teammates through a microphone, or using a system called pinging. Pinging is an in game system where you look at an item or location you want to show to your teammates, then hit a button to place a ping there that is displayed to the rest of your team. The most effective way to communicate in Warzone is a combination of both pinging and rapid verbal communication. This way a player can verbally tell their teammates exactly what they are talking about while simultaneously pinging it to show their teammates visually. With the visual indicator on the screen from the ping, and the verbal description from teammates, it should be the most efficient way to tell a teammates something quickly. While some other games also have a pinging system, most force the players to be most reliant on communicating verbally with quick and information packed sentences. This is because while playing these games, the players do not have time to communicate with each other in long detailed sentences. They need to cut down the time it takes to relay information to teammates or often it will be too late for that information to be important anymore. In the time I have played video games I find most of this to be accurate and I believe it has had at least some effect on my communication skills in high stress situations. I also have personal experience with the use of video games education. When I was in elementary school, I frequently used a computer game to help me practice my speed of completing math equations. Even though I was learning the same thing that the teacher was teaching at school, I was much more engaged and interested because a game was more fun that simply doing equations on a sheet of paper. I think that this kind of education can be used much more often to keep students engaged with the subject they are learning. Overall, I have a good connection to this subject and feel confident in the positive relationship between video games and education as well as communication skills.
First, I will explore the research on the topic of the relationship between playing video games and communication skills. A question that I think is important to answer about this topic is how does video game communication effect real world communication skills. Many researchers have studied this relationship to examine video games effects on communication. One such researcher is Kenneth Horowitz in his article “Video Games and English as a Second Language: The Effect of Massive Multiplayer Online Video Games on The Willingness to Communicate and Communicative Anxiety of College Students in Puerto Rico”. In this article Horowitz studies a group of students from Puerto Rico who are attempting to learn English while using video games as one of their forms of learning. As they play these games it works on their English communication skills furthering their knowledge of the language. Horowitz regards new technology and the internet as a whole as a fascinating new potential form of education and more specifically a form of improving the communication skills in those who are learning a new language (Horowitz 379). Because this study revolves around students who are learning English rather than improving on the English skills they already have it is a slightly different situation than the research question asks but still mostly related enough to be relevant. The research was gathered through two questionaries given through the internet to the research participants further relating the connection to the internet and technology to education (Horowitz 391). This means there was a variety of ways for the participants of the study to express the affect the study had on them to diversify the results. While the participants played a wide variety of video game titles and genres, the results and levels of communication between the players did not change but stayed at a similar level relative to each other (Horowitz 398). While the messages players communicate to each other in these different games titles and genres may be different it still requires the same kind of communicative skill to get the message across to teammates effectively. Overall, the relationship between the time of video games played and the skill in communication is a positive correlation (Horowitz 398). When applied to the research question about Video Games correlation to real world communication skills, Horowitz’s research would seem to suggest that Video games do in fact have a positive effect on a person’s real life communication skills in a significant way. Another article that deals with this research question is “Games at Work: Examining a Model of Team Effectiveness in an Interdependent Gaming Task” by Sylvia Luu and Anupama Narayan. This article is another one that deals with how video games and gamification can help people work better as a team in other aspects of life other than video games. The term gamification is used frequently throughout the article, and I think this term is a great term to relate to this essay and the research questions within it as a whole. As stated in the article, gamification could be described as a way of applying skills and aspects of video game behavior into real life situations and circumstances as a way to more efficiently handle them when the need arises (Luu and Narayan 110). The gamification of everyday tasks or especially tasks that have to do with communication and education relates directly to the research question of video games having an effect on real world communication skills. In this article’s experiment a wide range of students volunteered to take part by working together in a video game designed to specifically bring out the teamwork and communication skills of those who played it (Luu and Narayan 114). In contrast to Horowitz’s study, this experiment uses its own game in contrast with Horowitz allowing the participants in the study to play whatever game they chose by themselves. This provides a different point of view and wider range of research data to support this main concept of improvement in communication skill. In the end of the study, it was shown that more communication between the players in the game lead to better performance overall and satisfaction between teammates (Luu and Narayan 116). When the players who participated in the study communicated more it led to a higher rate of success and level of approving between teammates which could be translated to communication in real life scenarios and demonstrates how the communication in video games is not all that different from communication in real life. Yet another article that deals with the ways video games have an effect on a person’s communication skills is “Using video game to enhance English communication skills” by Alex Roach and Yeski Utami. Once again, this article similarly dives into the gamification of education and communication and how video games can incentivize and reward the improvement of communication skills. The article goes over several types of games that can benefit from good communication skills including co-operative games which are directly related to the players working together and communicating as well as they can in order to accomplish their tasks effectively (Roach and Utami 202). Multiple different genres and types of video games have varying degrees of connection to communication and how it can be improved. The research done in this article was based on two different games played by several groups of students in order to diversify and expand the range of results possible to be shown in the data of the experiment (Roach and Utami 203). With multiple different games to play it becomes easier to show and more apparent that the results of one game are not an outlier to the hypothesis. In the results of the experiment, it is believed that the communication between players had a very positive effect on the success in playing the games and that good communication was very important and incentivized for a good performance (Roach and Utami 204). When the students in the experiment communicated better, they performed better in the experiment which shows the strong connection between playing video games and communication skills. Another, more specific article on this topic is “Can game-based learning enhance engineering communication skills?” by Cheyrl Bondar and Renee Clark. Obviously, this article is of a similar topic as the last few but is more specifically relegated to the topic of engineering students using video games in a similar way as the others. This article is based on a study on several hundred engineering students who were asked to write and deliver a presentation on a subject while first using video games as a way to see how the effect the skill in communication among these engineering students (Bondar and Clark 25-26). Though the final presentation these students are composing is not about video games or communication skills, the way video games are implemented into the study still creates an effective situation for the research to show how video games can affect communication skills in these students. The way the video games were used in this study was the students developed their own games specifically designed around different types of communication such as verbal, nonverbal and written communication. These games were meant to test each student in how well they can properly use these different types of communication to complete their assigned final presentations (Bondar and Clark 35). As the students play these several different games with varying objectives, they are also working together closely much like how they will need to for their presentations at the end of the year. In the final results of this study, it was discovered that the positive correlation in communication skills was only found in the level of out loud verbal communication skills (Bondar and Clark 39). This finding shows how playing video games improves the communication each of the players have with and between each other. It seems to show that as the players proceed through the games, they mainly communicate out loud with each other even when playing the games designed around other forms of communication therefor having a much greater effect on their verbal communication skills rather than non-verbal communication skills. Overall, this article and its research show that even when working towards an unrelated goal, video game players who are effectively communicating with each other will see a great improvement in their level of skill in that same kind of verbal communication. My second to last piece of writing on this particular research question is a CNN article titled “Video Games Help Children Improve Literacy, Communication and Mental Well-Being, Survey Finds” by Alaa Elassar. This article and its message are based on a survey administered to several thousand teenagers in a small range of different ages on how they believe playing video games effects their lives. They are asked about how they think playing video games has an effect on multiple different aspects including their skill in reading as well as their writing ability (Elassar). Many people including those in the age range of this survey know that playing video games and reading and writing skills are much more closely related than most would think. These teenagers who participated in the survey also report that the video games they play are a major topic of discussion between them and their friends when they talk (Elassar). While this particular finding may not show direct increase in communication skill related to video games, it does show that playing video games can increase the amount of communicating a person does throughout their day both while playing and when they are not. Many of these teens think playing their video games are a fun and entertaining way for them to build connections and friendships both with people they know in real life and with new people they meet online through the games (Elassar). This shows that playing video games creates and strengthens connections between those who play them together. In a somewhat unrelated note, the participants of the survey also report that playing video games helps reduce their stress and other negative feelings (Elassar). Overall, the playing of video games has a positive effect on most children who play them both in their ability to communicate and on their mental well being. Finally, I have one more online article titled “Video Games Level up Life Skills” by Kathryn Hulick. This article is a simple online piece of writing that conveys the message of how video games can build their valuable life skills such as communication and improvisation or resourcefulness (Hulick). As players play video games, they work on these skills by stimulating their minds in a casual and entertaining way. The article references a study conducted in Scotland about students who played video games during their school week to see if it had any effect on their school performance (Hulick). In comparison to the control group that played no video games during the study did not show as big of an improvement in the traits they were asked to report on, resourcefulness, adaptability and communication skills, as the group of students who did play video games consistently throughout the two months the study was conducted over (Hulick). All of these articles display a very strong connection between communication skills and the amount of video games the players play.
The second part of this essay will be focused around a different connection to video games. The research question for this portion is can video games be used as an effective education tool. The first source I would like to use for this topic is “Video Games Can Develop Graduate Skills in Higher Education Students: A Randomized Trial” by Matthew Barr. This article is based on a trail to show how video games can be used as an education tool. The study is about a group of subjects who were asked to play video games and report how they were affected in a cognitive and social context (Barr 86). The participants play a wide variety of games that have the potential to have educational value to explore many different methods of teaching from a video game. By the end of the research, it was shown that the students involved in the study did show good results for a test administered by the researchers possibly indicating a link between video games and effective communication skills (Barr 90). This shows what my research question aims to ask that video games while not a main source of education can be used as a tool for educating in some instances where it applies and for specific skills. The next source for this research question is titled quite simply “Gaming as a Teaching Tool” written by Brandon Baker. This source is another website article that aims to point out a positive connection between video game playing and engaging education for students. The article discusses many ways video games are being used in various different environments including the military, fitness, and of course schools themselves (Baker). With such a diverse range of games and genres it is possible for video games to be used in hundreds of different contexts and environments as an educational tool in one way or another. Professor Yasmin Kafai certifies that video games have a long extensive history in education and that their modern surge in use is nothing new as Professor Kafai verifies with the course she created titled Video Games and the Virtual World which deals extensively with how video games can be used for educational purposes in many different scenarios (Baker). As Professor Kafai’s course most likely verifies, video games have had a long history of educational purposes even when it may not seem very obvious or apparent. There are many games that have very specific educational values and themes that were made exclusively for classroom education purposes rather than for entertainment purposes such as a game titled Math Blasters (Baker). Although there are some games that are made specifically for educational purposes and not for entertainment purposes, it is still possible and even likely that more entertainment focused video game titles are capable of having educational value whether it is intended or not. Recent events, especially the COVID-19 pandemic, have shown that video games and other technology based methods can be extremely effective and sometimes vital to a learning environments benefit (Baker). When the world of education suddenly became almost entirely reliant on technology to administer its lessons to students it is possible that many educators became at least somewhat aware that video games have a much higher potential of educational use than many would have previously thought. In summation, Baker’s article is very aware and expressive of how the world of education is already very much connected to video games and that they have a bright future in the educational field now that technology has taken on such a crucial role in the field. Another source that deals with this topic is “A New Venue for Video Games: K-12 Classrooms” written by Carolyn Jones. This article begins by describing a teacher who struggled to keep his students engaged and interested in the subject matter until he instituted video games as a way to make his class more engaging and fun for the students. He began to use Minecraft: Education Edition as a part of his history class and witnessed as it drastically increased his student’s engagement with the course material (Jones). When students are given a more entertaining way to learn the same material as a more traditional classroom experience can offer, the entertaining option will usually be much more appealing and effective at keeping the students interested in the material. Other educational games such as Dragon Box focus around other school subjects such as math to provide a wider range of teaching ability across multiple different possible forms of presentation (Jones). Many games have specialty areas of education just like different teachers are more informed on certain subjects. My last source for this question is “The Benefits of Gaming in Education: the Build A World Case” which has no listed author. The article states that gaming has numerous social and psychological benefits to its players and that these benefits have countless positive effects even in the area of education (The Benefits of Gaming). These benefits are often somewhat overlooked but have a very great impact on students and other young people who play video games. As students play video games they are idly and subconsciously improving their critical thinking and technical skills due to the quick snap decisions and puzzle solving that many games have included within them (The Benefits of Gaming). Video games are not often made purposfully with the goal of education in mind but they very often include puzzles and other stimulating challenges that require the player to think critically. Overall These sources all seem to indicate that there is a strong relationship between video games and the field of education.
Horowitz, Kenneth S. “Video Games and English as a Second Language: The Effect of Massive Multiplayer Online Video Games on The Willingness to Communicate and Communicative Anxiety of College Students in Puerto Rico.” American Journal of Play, vol. 11, no. 3, Jan. 2019, pp. 379–410. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1220304&site=eds-live&scope=site.
Luu, Sylvia, and Anupama Narayan. “Games at Work: Examining a Model of Team Effectiveness in an Interdependent Gaming Task.” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 77, Dec. 2017, pp. 110–120. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.chb.2017.08.025.
Barr, Matthew. “Video Games Can Develop Graduate Skills in Higher Education Students: A Randomized Trial.” Online Submission, vol. 113, Jan. 2017, pp. 86–97. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=ED608315&site=eds-live&scope=site.
Roach, Alex, and Yeski Utami. “Using video game to enhance English communication skills.” Proceedings of ISELT FBS Universitas Negeri Padang 5 (2017): 200-204.
Bodnar, Cheryl A., and Renee M. Clark. “Can game-based learning enhance engineering communication skills?.” IEEE transactions on professional communication 60.1 (2017): 24-41.
Squire, Kurt. “Video games in education.” Int. J. Intell. Games & Simulation 2.1 (2003): 49-62.
Baker, Brandon, “Gaming as a Teaching Tool.” Penn Today, 6 May 2020, penntoday.upenn.edu/news/gaming-teaching-tool.
Jones, Carolyn. “A New Venue for Video Games: K-12 Classrooms .” EdSource, EdSource, 7 May 2018, edsource.org/2018/a-new-venue-for-video-games-k-12-classrooms/597100.
“The Benefits of Gaming in Education: the Build A World Case.” Acer for Education, 27 Jan. 2017, acerforeducation.acer.com/education-trends/gamification/the-benefits-of-gaming-in-education-the-build-a-world-case/.
Elassar, Alaa. “Video Games Help Children Improve Literacy, Communication and Mental Well-Being, Survey Finds.” CNN, Cable News Network, 5 Sept. 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/09/05/health/video-games-literacy-creativity-children-trnd/index.html.
Hulick, Kathryn. “Video Games Level up Life Skills.” Science News for Students, 3 Dec. 2019, www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/video-games-level-life-skills.
Fishman, Andrew. “Video Games Are Social Spaces: How Video Games Help People Connect.” Video Games Are Social Spaces: How Video Games Help People Connect | ResponseCenter, www.jcfs.org/response/blog/video-games-are-social-spaces-how-video-games-help-people-connect.