Videogames: when playing and learning is fun

Spanish version here.

Educational games have existed since the beginning of the computer age. Games whose main purpose is to teach, allowing students to acquire a series of knowledge and skills based on software that allows them to analyze their skills, improve them, and obtain a final result.

But, too often, educational games are too educational. What does this mean? They are very focused on the training component, leaving aside the recreational component. This characteristic of this type of game means that the use of these programs becomes, in many ways, an extension of a math or physics class. We have virtual blackboards, with virtual problems, that are solved as in class: with a virtual chalk, and with a result that is a score of the exercises solved.

This approach is not negative, but it is important to go beyond the idea of creating extensions of a math or physics class. And that’s where games appear that are very similar, if not equal, to any video game we can imagine, but that, inside, contain elements that allow the development of the player’s knowledge. This is called merging player and student, so that both the player and the learner are the same individual.

Many of us have learned through games that, in principle, do not have the official educational label, although we all know that they are. I will give three examples. The Civilization saga would be the first. How much history have we learned from this saga? The second would be the Sim City saga, or its current derivative, Cities: Skylines, where we learn all aspects of a city’s development. And the third one is one that particularly touches me: the flight simulators. How many people who started with the Flight Simulator and other simulators ended up being professional pilots? I know a few of them.

We must look for new sources of learning, based on traditional PC and console games, merged with educational elements. The virtual blackboard is very important, but why stay there? We can create fun, exciting games in three dimensions, with good graphics and sound, which also have an important educational and training component.

That is our mission. And in that task we are involved. Learning without knowing what you are learning. That’s our motto. And we want it to be so for thousands of young people around the world. Thank you very much.

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