Bill MacKenty

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I want to approach buying the game as a learning opportunity

Posted in Games in education on 15 - December 2006 at 05:24 PM (17 years ago). 200 views.


It’s questions like these which keep me moving forward, you know?

From the indomitable David Warlick comes this question from a parent.

My 10-yr-old daughter is starting to show some interest in gaming. She is
very computer savvy, IM literate, regularly blogs, and is a geocaching pro.
Which games or gaming systems can you or your readers recommend for us (her)
to get started? I would like to see this succeed, and bring it to my
elementary school campus as an after school club, if it looks like it really
is productive and can produce some meaningful effects.

I don’t want to get her (us) started and then justify it by saying that she
may be learning something. I want to approach buying the game as a learning
opportunity. Tell me where to start, I’ll buy it, and report back in three
months. I’m serious…I have no idea how to get started. I need specifics.

First of all congratulations on looking like an educated, media-savvy parent. If you stick your kid in front of a computer game for an hour, and expect something magic to happen, you are going to be disappointed. It’s your engagement with your children and their media use which will define how your kids understand this new world.

As your daughter plays, she’ll learn…it’s just how kids are wired.  But if you want to really make a difference, get in the habit of engaging her in the games she is playing.  I don’t know if she’s in that “OMG POS” (oh my God, Parent over shoulder) phase yet, but you should make effort to ask her about the games she is playing.  Hypothetical questions work best (what would happen if…), as well as “why do you think this is happening….”

The short answer to your question is here:

DDR - dance, dance revolution
The Sims
Sim City
Age of Empires III
Civilization IV
Spore - (when it comes out)
Wii sports
Final Fantasy XII (a particularly deep RPG)

A slightly longer answer to your question is here:

As I am a computer teacher, I generally think in terms of “learning units” or “learning blocks”. This sort of thinking lends itself to games in the classroom, but not at home.  I wonder if you continually engaged with your daughter, and talked about other things in her life as they might relate to the game?

I prefer console games to PC games for a few reasons:

1) Consoles are cheaper
2) They are more stable
3) The games are fantastic - deep, rich games. Many of the games listed above are availbe as console titles
4) They offer multi player play
5) The new generations of console games offer some modding and user-created content
6) You can easily rent games to try them out
7) Especially with the Wii, your daughter will be jumping around and moving as she plays
8) There is no need to upgrade, or struggle with new drivers and graphics cards

I want to also avoid gender stereotypes, and I think you should be careful as well. Be open to trying games which might be associated as “boys” games.

Please keep us posted on your progress, we would very much like to hear about your progress.