Here is a Paper I just turned in for English

Video Game v.s. The Textbook
Mention the word video game and what instantly comes to mind is a kid sitting in front of an X-Box or computer blowing up demons in Doom Three, but in the technology field a new word is quickly associating itself with the word video game, education. For years now, educators have been searching for adequate substitutes to the aging textbook lecture combination, and have found it in the video game. Unlike textbooks and classrooms lectures, video games hold natural characteristics that challenge the mind and enhance levels of thinking and determination not associated with traditional schoolroom teaching. Their inherent premise of pleasantly frustrating play allows games to; keep us interested even during their hardest sections, promote problem solving techniques, interact with others to achieve a common goal, and the ability to take certain undesirable risks.
Although not traditionally associated with education, video games are proving to be extremely versatile and effective tools in learning institutions. Give the choice to any student as to whether they want to read a 300 page text book or play the game, the game will most likely be victorious. For decades now video games have been on the forefront of entertainment with annual earnings in excess of 9.9 billion dollars in 2004 in the United States alone (Richtel 2005). With such a large portion of the population playing video games, particularly people under the age of forty, the world is primed for a revolution in education.
One of the most important factors to consider when applying video games in education is the ability of video games to captivate its player for hours on end. The traditional textbook offers no such captivation, only stating seemingly endless sets of facts and figures. With the average college student’s attention span in relation to studies, lasting only about thirty minutes, (Penner 1984), video games would have a great advantage over any textbook.
At its heart any video game is based upon one or multiple problems that must be solved to end the game. Games allow the player to use his mind in ways textbooks and lectures could ever hope to, providing real time scenarios and strategy-based learning. Games such at the Myst (see figure 1) series is considered to be the hardest of all problem-solving games. The games offer thought provoking problems primarily in within constraints of math, astronomy, mechanics, physics, and literature. By combining each of the fields into one coherent game, the mind is forced to think outside the preverbal box, in turn developing new ways of thinking.
How do you teach someone how to be a mayor, or manage a store? Give them own city, or store that is. Games such as Madison 2200, Sim City, and the Tycoon Series (figures 2, 3, 4) create virtual worlds where the player learns how to manage virtual people, businesses, even cities. “In Madison 2200, players learn about urban ecology by working as urban planners to redesign a downtown pedestrian mall popular with local teenagers” (Shaffer ie al 2004).
History can easily be taught through strategy games such as Civilization III (figure 5) where the player governs any country of his choosing from is birth in pre-ancient ages, to current day, facing world wide disasters like wars and hardships on a time line similar to that of Earth’s history. By implementing similar plans and actions used by the great leaders of the world like The New Deal, D-Day, the Bolshevik Revolution, and NATO the player can overcome these
obstacles. Instead of seeing history through dull pictures and textbooks students can watch and interact with the history of the world as it unfolds before their eyes.
The development of high speed internet brought a brand new type of gaming- the MMOG or Massively Multiplayer online Game. In an MMOG, Lineage 2 or Ever Quest for example (figures 6, 7), thousands of gamers world-wide log onto an internet server and play with one another. Gaming against one another or in association with each other over these online communities allows for interaction and the development of teamwork. MMOG’s are particularly good at teaching communication and teamwork over non-traditional media. As stated by Steinkuehler, “What is first confined to the game alone (e.g., in game talk, letter writing) soon spills over into the virtual world beyond it (e.g, websites chat rooms) and even life off-screen (e.g., telephone calls, face to face meetings) (Steinkuehler 2004).
Games also allow us to take undesirable risks without being put in the heat of danger. Games such as Rainbow Six teach combat strategies without using real bullets or Fire fighter that allows you to practice your fire fighting skills without actually going into a burning building. The largest user of video games for training, the United States Army, uses Full Spectrum Warrior (figure 8). Full Spectrum Warrior has been used to train Army recruits and civilians alike in the art of war, giving a vividly accurate representation of battlefronts. “But Full Spectrum Warrior is not a mere first person shooter in which the player blows everything up on the screen. “To survive in the game, the player has to learn, think and act like a modern professional soldier” (Shaffer ie al 2004). Many cities police and fire departments including those in Madison, WI and Los Angeles, CA are implementing similar such games as SWAT and Fire Fighter into their training curriculums.
What then does the future of the classroom look like with an emphasis upon games and not books and what type of games are we looking at? Classroom based games will be more effective with certain subjects including those relating to math, science, engineering and government. New game development will lead to specific genres of games best suited for each type of class. “By looking at the 21st century learning skills and the ways in which technology is used to both acquire the skills and learn content, teachers can adapt the outcomes presented to fit state and local learning-processes and content standards Alendir thinks” (Hazel 2005).
However the idea of games in the classroom has come under heavy scrutinization from various parent and teacher associations as they still define games solely as instruments of entertainment. This argument states that games in the classroom will lead to the reduced learning, and an unorganized classroom. Yet these accusations are based on the traditional definition of a video game as entertainment and not that of recent studies. Used properly and regulated by teachers, video games can be used as effective tools in education. Games will most likely never completely cast out books and reading, as reading is a vital part of education, however, games can be an important compliment to books as long as they are used in the correct manner.
Ongoing gaming research is being conducted mainly at the Universities of Wisconsin and Texas. Statistics from each university show an average increase in mental thinking process. In a University of Wisconsin Case study using the game Madison 2200, a student was asked to walk down a street several times noting everything she could about it. She was then asked to play the video game Madison 2200. After playing the game she was once again asked to walk down the
street. The student not only noted specific new details about it, but also had suggestions about how to make the street more economical, all while initially knowing nothing of civil engineering.
The future of education is changing right before our eyes. While old textbooks and chalkboards find new homes in dumps, innovative new technological advances spill out of labs across the word at exponential rates. The majority of the world’s population finds itself running to catch up. Video Games are offering a new more effective ways of both teaching and learning. By giving students safe virtual learning environments, visual representations, and both real-time and strategic problems, video games become much more effective teaching and learning tools then the aging textbook coupled with boring lectures.

2 comments:

Joe said...

Aside from some mechanical/grammar issues, some bad organising, non-existant transitions, and little to no use of college-level tools (participial phrase, the dash, semi-colons and colons), this paper is perfect. And considering you wrote this, and the fact that it is better than ANYTHING Matt has written (take that rocket boy!), I give this a A-. I get A-'s on MY papers, so you somehow have brought your average English grade on a paper up from a C+/B- to an A- in, what, NINE months of Prarie View-ing?!

I AM Impressed...

(and on your next paper I will gladly proof it - its not "work" like it is/was for Matt and Jason.)

Joe said...

Aside from some mechanical/grammar issues, some bad organising, non-existant transitions, and little to no use of college-level tools (participial phrase, the dash, semi-colons and colons), this paper is perfect. And considering you wrote this, and the fact that it is better than ANYTHING Matt has written (take that rocket boy!), I give this a A-. I get A-'s on MY papers, so you somehow have brought your average English grade on a paper up from a C+/B- to an A- in, what, NINE months of Prarie View-ing?!

I AM Impressed...

(and on your next paper I will gladly proof it - its not "work" like it is/was for Matt and Jason.)