The video game as an electronic medium has been incessantly expanding and diversifying in recent years to the tune of unbelievable sales figures and a growing sense of cultural attachment.‚ The video game industry is no longer a niche market; rather it is a globally encompassing phenomenon with no significant slowdown in sight.‚ And with this expansion of epic proportions comes the question of a correlation between the games we know and love, and whether or not they can be systematically examined and developed to encourage the educational process.
Microsoft, with their huge bankroll and uninhibited enthusiasm for research and development, has put 1.5 million dollars up to start the Games for Learning Institute in association with New York University and other area colleges.‚ ‚ Their aim is to see if video games can draw students into math, science, and other technology-based programs.‚ And we’re not talking just educational games; the full spectrum will be analyzed and interpreted.
Popular video games Halo 3 and Gears of War require a high level of strategy and forethought in order to succeed and Microsoft hopes to tap into this mentality and transform it into hard data they can use for future endeavors.
Jord Nordlinger, head of gaming research at Microsoft said “We want to find out what’s compelling about the games, if we can find a way to make the games fun and not make them so violent, that would be ideal.”
While I am all for the educational process, I don’t want my violent video games to go anywhere.‚ ‚ If anything, I am more driven to succeed and apply my brain to a situation when the end result will be a knife in the back or a clip of battle rifle ammo through the skull.
There has been quite a backlash with numerous scientific studies claiming the potential long term psychological and sociological effects frequent gamers can fall victim to.
Dave Walsh, president of the National Institute on Media and the Family had this to say regarding the current state of destructive games.
“I would hope that the goal is to have video games that can help develop reaction and problem-solving skills, without blowing everything up in sight.”
I believe a solid foundation has already been laid with games like My Word Coach, My [insert language here] coach, and the slew of Brain Age titles available today.‚ I was skeptical regarding the educational value of these titles but I must say, my reaction times and depth of vocabulary has increased significantly since first playing these games.
I also play a lot of Halo 3, and my in-game cognitive evolution has been dramatic since launch.‚ As a noobie to the Halo multiplayer universe, I stepped onto a battlefield forged by hardened veterans.‚ ‚ However, I quickly learned and adapted and today can hang with the best of them.‚ It has been difficult to relate my in-game progress to my educational process and this is likely the reason for Microsoft’s investment of capital and interest in the research.
I am very interested to see Microsoft’s conclusions stemming from their Games for Learning Institute.‚ I’m sure whatever they discover will be aptly used to sell more games and try to erase our horrid memories of the painful Red Rings of Death occurrences.
Read the full article here, written by Dave Kolpack of the Associated Press.