My History of Play
I am at the half-way point in my graduate degree program and one of my classes this semester is Games and Learning. I have been a gamer since Pong got me hooked. As a child in the seventies, it was the neatest thing. Video games have been a constant in my life giving me an escape from a chaotic and angry home life. Me and my brother would have fun and plenty of arguments playing for high scores. Advance time thirty-some-odd years later and I still enjoy them–maybe more so. I was just playing Halo 5 this morning. It and copious amounts of coffee wakes my brain up. Sure, my reflexes aren’t what they used to be, so I am clumsy and die a lot, but that doesn’t take away from the fun.
The complex nature of video games draws me to them more than board games ever did. Board games are called that for a reason—you have to be really bored to play them. The interactivity of a video game is more immersive and helps keep my brain sharp, at least sharper than it would be if I didn’t play them. That interactiviy and immersion also help engage my imagination. My understanding of games has grown in this regard to look more at video games’ learning nature over their entertainment value. Games can help improve your memory, problem solving skills, and pattern recognition to name a few ways that playing video games helps you to learn. Now I get a chance to study the leaning benefits of video games and how they may be used to effectively teach in various environments and through various media.
I always feel like I should be doing something productive when I am playing video games, like I am wasting my time. To some degree this can be true, but now I have an excuse to grab the controller and spend a few hours saving a galaxy, wreaking havoc, or competing against someone and failing miserably. Leave me alone. I am doing research.