Not all games are bad…

Deputy Managing Director, Steve Holt, shares his views on the recent research published on the impact of gaming on our children.

“Last week, new research was released by The National Children’s Bureau Northern Ireland (NCB NI) about the impact of gaming on our children. One of the key findings was that school staff were concerned about the extent of gaming by students, reporting a number of issues relating to attendance, punctuality and motivation, and ultimately the impact this has on school attainment. This is worrying research, but hardly surprising given that young people today have a lot of stresses about an uncertain world they will inherit and so many are turning to these immersive games to distract themselves away from reality. It is in doing this that they are deliberately ‘switching off’ for hours at a time and this can cause the impact on education that is being described.

On the surface it is obvious that if the students spend more time reading and doing homework and less time playing Call of Duty or Elder Scrolls, then they’d achieve higher results. There is an argument though, that rather than fighting against kids’ natural draw to games and entertainment, why not try to harness that engagement and use it wisely. I’m not talking about making educational versions of World of Warcraft, but using the principles of gamification to motivate students. Incentivising and engaging students through the competitive nature of games can have a huge impact. Our FrogPlay games-based learning environment is not the immersive experience that drags the kids in and ‘hooks’ them to want to spend 3 days without eating or sleeping. Instead we deliberately use ‘mini-games’, short activities of literally a few minutes at a time more akin to how a user may interact with an app on a mobile phone to ‘kill time’. Why not make those 5-10 minutes of boredom into something positive? The games in FrogPlay are only playable while the student is doing work AND the system is proven to positively influence the quality of their work.

Not all games are bad. The key is they should be limited and used wisely as rewards. Don’t blame the games, instead use the medium they actively seek out to motivate them to improve.”

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