The Pew Internet & American Life Project has published a very interesting report entitled Teens, Video Games and Civics (PDF here). I can't believe 97% of teens play video games. I mean, 70% to 80%, ok, yea. But 97%? Wow. The report is a must-read for anyone who is interested in teens, technology, and education. My interest in using games in education stems from the observation I made while I was the club advisor for the yu-gi-oh club. "Low ability" students were spending crazy amount of time, energy and mental muscle on this game. The rules were complex, with branching conditions and fascinating strategies. As I looked at computer games, I saw the same thing; kids who might be labeled as dis-invested in school or "low scorers" were crazy about these games! The inequality between school behavior and game behavior was stunning. Joey is a poor writer? Why is he writing 200 page game guides?!?!? I don't claim to have a magic formula, but the basic idea is to use COTS games in the classroom with strong instructional design; that is, include the game the way you might include a DVD, field trip, guest speaker, or special project. Talk about the content area, play the game, and then talk about how you can apply the lessons in the game to the content area.