Video games are a waste of time, right? They turn children into violent sociopaths, compulsively smashing their faces against brick blocks in a futile attempt to find hidden gold coins. In fact, all video games should probably just be banned.
And yet… 25% of Europeans say they play video games at least once a week. And among younger Europeans, gaming is almost ubiquitous – with 80% of males and 61% of females aged 16-24 playing games regularly. Gaming is a huge, global industry worth €54 billion per year, and Europe is the second-largest market for video games in the world after Asia.
Seeing as so many children and young people are anyway spending their time playing video games, could gaming be a valuable tool in their education? According to a consumer study by the Interactive Software Federation of Europe, a majority of parents across Europe (58%) thinks video games encourage their children to develop more skills.
As part of our Debating Europe Schools series, we’ve been taking questions from students from across Europe to policymakers and experts for them to answer. For today’s debate, we had questions sent in on video games in the classroom from students from the EFP Uccle and the Université St-Louis Brussels, both from Belgium.
Curious to know more about video games as educational tools? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).
First up, we had a question from Gabriela, a young person from Sweden who works in a gaming café in Brussels. She would like to know what sort of skills video games might potentially help develop.
To get a response, we put this question to Tom Chatfield, a British author, commentator and designer whose work focuses on games and technology.
Next, we had a question from Maxime from EFP Uccle in Belgium. Maxime agreed that video games can teach certain skills, but thought they were inapropriate for the classroom. He thinks the separation between school work and leisure activities should be kept clear:
I don’t think video games should replace any of the traditional courses in schools, as they cannot replace the general culture and personal development that theoretical classes can give. However, video games do help children develop certain reflexes and skills like creativity, and therefore should really be supported as leisure.
To get a response, we took this question to Daphne Bavelier, a cognitive researcher at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. How would she respond?
Finally, we had a question sent in by Balthazar, a student at the Université St-Louis Brussels, asking about whether video games could help promote inter-generational learning. Are games just for children, or can parents and teachers play too? What would Daphne Bavelier say to Balthazar?
Can video games help children learn? Could gaming be a valuable tool in their education? Are games just for children, or can parents and teachers play too? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!