As I mentioned in my previous post about unleashing a student’s inner super hero, I work with a gifted student in high school who has been failed by the school system. Like many teen boys, he is very into video games. As adults, we often tell students that video games are useless in real life. After many long conversations with Student X, I realized that teachers should not dismiss them so quickly and instead, we should figure out how to use this to our advantage.
I understand where teachers are coming from as well. “Life isn’t all about video games. Not everything in the classroom can be fun and stimulating all the time.” I know how much time goes into planning lessons and it’s just not feasible to turn class into a video game.
So to start, there are a few things we need to recognize first. First, video games aren’t just about escaping reality and responsibility (although the fact that so many students feel they need to do this is a clear sign that education is not meaningful or relevant enough to these students). These games create communities of like-minded individuals who work together to solve a problem (or defeat a Boss). Here is how these communities helped Student X.
A bit of background:
- Student X’s first played a game called “Defense of the Ancients” or “DOTA”.
- Next was League of Legends
- Third, was Overwatch
- Some of these games are Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), also known as action real-time strategy (ARTS), in which a player controls a single character in a team who compete versus another team of players. Player characters typically have various abilities and advantages that improve over the course of a game and that contribute to a team’s overall strategy.
This following section was written by Student X
- Little care was put into thinking before acting
- Insistent on believing that any and all of mine own personal faults were caused entirely by other people and could only be fixed by other people
- Under the belief that there was no human being capable of comparing to myself.
- Working with troublesome people often ended in a very petty shouting match that often yielded nothing positive or useful
- Some semblance of humility was acquired as a result of the repeated, merciless failure I was previously presented with as the fruit of my actions
- Arguments became significantly less common with me
- A passable understanding of other people and what went on in their minds was attained
- I also simply learned the game’s mechanics which made it much easier to adapt to similar circumstances in real life (to fully explain this I fear I would have to explain the concept of the MOBA genre of games)
After Overwatch/During League
- Became quite clear to me that most all of my faults are the result of my own doing.
- My partaking in arguments went from being uncommon to rare, as they were very commonly deemed by me to be pointless.
- Ability to work with a team (while it was considered to me as a last resort) was much greater than ever it had been in the past.
- This was also the first game I had ever achieved a significantly high rank in as my career high was amongst the top 8% of players. This was a clear indication of both my eye for strategy and my competence coming together.
Now (After League of Legends)
(Perhaps “Now” was a better header for this section but I figured “After League” would be more thematic)
- Exceptionally capable of reasoning
- Experienced in leading and/or orchestrating groups of people to attain a common goal
- Arguments are avoided at all costs assuming I can see the advantage in doing so
- Especially capable of effectively masquerading as different personality types in order to get on someone’s good side if necessary (Don’t know how beneficial it is to reveal this but I’m certainly interested in finding out)
- Able to keep track of multiple people/things at the same time
- Strategizing has become one of my strong suits which connects back to my ability to thrive in a leadership role (in spite of the fact that I tend to avoid them)
- Putting together lists of variables and determining how they might interact with each other in a given environment/scenario.
So, to summarize, video games taught this student:
- provided character role models and mentors (someone to relate to and look up to). These games have highly developed characters with detailed back stories. Check out these League characters for example.
- intrapersonal skills: perseverance and resilience, how to take personal responsibility for his actions instead of blaming others.
- interpersonal skills : leadership skills, negotiating skills
- a sense of achievement (something more meaningful than say, acing a test on a subject you don’t care about)
- Strategy: how to take into account multiple factors to tackle a problem (in context problem solving, not overly simplistic questions we often ask on tests)
So the point of this article isn’t to get you to make school more like video games. What we need to do is to create more situations where work together to solve a meaningful problems. For more ideas, see the previous article on unleashing your student’s inner super hero.
For these students, playing games isn’t a distraction — it’s the lesson.
Read more: www.cbc.ca/1.4654087?cmp=FB_Post_News
Check out Scott Hebert’s Ted Talk here: