I’ve just got a free moment in between my daily chores. What would I be doing now? My first urge is to look for my mobile phone! Is it on the sofa, or in the kitchen? When did I pick it up last? Couldn’t have been more than a few minutes ago. But still, I feel as though I am looking for a long-lost friend!
When I do pick up the phone, I don’t really have a clear objective in mind on what to do with it. But one thing is for sure – my idle time is sucked up and spent entirely.
Waiting for a cab or train to arrive? Working in a store and got a few minutes respite from your duties? Having a solo lunch in your college or company canteen? Senior citizens wanting to spend a quiet hour alone after a meal? Or a little infant is to be distracted while being fed? Just start playing a game on your phone!
We’ve seen the destructive power of online gaming with the mad obsession among kids with PUBG. Kids killing their parents when their devices were snatched off! That might sound like an extreme case, but it is a reflection of how addictive the game actually is. Fantasy games that mirror real life games like cricket and football tournaments are a big hit among teenagers and young adults. To the extent that, on some days, the virtual game version of an IPL match sees more viewership than the real match being played on the ground!
But is it possible to harness the power and lure of a game for constructive and educational purposes? Absolutely!
The Wordle craze that spread across the world a few weeks back is a case in point. Adults and kids alike loved to spend a few fun filled minutes solving a word puzzle challenge everyday. A school teacher living in my apartment told me in jest that her students have become very good with five letter words alone, thanks to Wordle! The simple, no-frills game became so popular that New York Times snapped it up and added it to its collection of online games. When the daily dose of Wordle shifted from a humble software geek’s private page to NYT, I started getting prompts at the end of the day’s game to play another game called SpellingBee. And I am loving that too! Crosswords and Sudoku puzzles in newspapers have been part of several people’s daily morning routine for years. Now the same habit is simply shifting online.
The Government of India was quick to spot the educational and employment potential in the gaming domain. The Prime Minister touched upon this topic in one of his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ sessions in 2020. Speaking on the National Education Policy (NEP) introduced by his government, the PM said that importance has been given to toys as they are vital for a child’s development. He also urged start-ups to “team up for toys” in another push to Atmanirbhar Bharat Mission. Under the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat App’ innovation challenge, there was the ‘KutukiKids’ learning app for kids. It is an interactive app for children in which they can easily learn many aspects of maths and science through songs and stories.
To take the idea forward, the Karnataka government launched the AVGC Center of Excellence in Bengaluru in January 2022. The AVGC Center of Excellence (Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, and Comics CoE) is considered a pioneering high technology digital media hub, funded by the Karnataka Ministry of IT/BT. There is also a finishing school setup to offer unique courses based on emerging technologies such as virtual reality, digital compression, gamification of education, real-time video production and so on. The goal is to offer innovative media rich learning aids to students in the form of games, puzzles and interactive storytelling. These novel teaching aids can enliven even mundane topics in social sciences, languages, mathematics or science.
In recent times, serious games are making the news almost every day. From teaching children about the cancer in their bodies to helping college students reinforce lessons from their business classes, these educational games take playing to a whole new level. Some popular and intuitive educational games are listed below: (Information Source: https://www.onlinecolleges.net/50-great-sites-for-serious-educational-games/)
Business and management
Ports of Call. This old classic has a 3D facelift. Play this game to build your shipping fleet wisely and learn plenty about economics while you play.
The EIS Simulation. Designed at the Center for Advanced Learning Technologies, this game challenges players to become a part of a team that will introduce an innovation and convince 22 members of the management team to accept the innovation.
Math and science for middle school
NanoQuest. Designed to get 13-15 year-old students interested in nanotechnology and science, this game has the two main characters going on miniaturized adventures while learning about physics, chemistry, and biology.
WolfQuest. Students as young as 4th grade all the way up can enjoy this science-based game that lets players learn what it’s like to live life as a wolf in Yellowstone National Park.
SplashLearn, Math Playground, Prodigy Game – Fun games in counting, algebra and number puzzles.
History, current affairs and culture
Global Warming Interactive. High school students can learn about the impact that political, economic, and scientific decisions have on the global climate with this interactive game.
Quest Atlantis. Designed to help students aged 9-16 gain invaluable knowledge as well as develop empathy, this game challenges players to complete quests as they go through virtual villages.
Supreme Decision. The first in a series of games being developed by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor teaching students about civics through real court cases they get to choose, investigate, and argue, Supreme Decision lets players learn about student rights, possibly even leading to interest in higher education at online colleges for law.
Health and medical games
Fatworld. Learn how nutrition, socioeconomics, and US culture are connected in this game. Select health condition predispositions, menus, exercise, and more to discover surprising results.
Food Detectives Fight BAC! Learn about food safety while playing these simple games. With shooting games, matching games, and more, learn important facts about preventing food-borne illnesses.
“Game-based learning is the process of taking an idea and creating an activity to deliver that idea in a manner that is motivating, engaging, challenging, effective and fun, and has a measurable learning objective as a foundation.” (Carson Learning Services in Tham&Tham, 2012). Considering such a definition will lead us in thinking how to use game-based learning as a pedagogical tool to benefit the students’ learning process. Today’s students are cheekily referred to as Digital Natives and those who have or are adapting to these new technological changes (such as today’s parents) as Digital Immigrants. Therefore, since this is the reality of how our Digital Native students are living, it makes sense to adopt these technologies and use them in today’s learning environments so as to make teaching and learning relevant to the students of the 21st century.
The author is an IT industry drop-out after several years of slogging and money-making. She is now working freelance as a corporate technical trainer and content writer. She is hoping to channelize her passion for writing into a satisfying experience for herself and a joyous experience for her readers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.