Can Video Games Teach Us How to Succeed in the Real World?


Interesting article this morning in The Atlantic where Lane Wallace explores what drives us to be so drawn to video games and can these motivators be applied to computer-based instruction.

It’s worth a read.  Meanwhile, here are a few quotes and some thoughts.

By the time teenagers today reach the age of 20, they will have spent an average of 10,000 hours playing video games — or the equivalent of five working years.

Imagine what else they could have learned with that time.  10,000 hours is Gladwell’s magic number for mastery of any activity and the key to success in any field.  (to which, if you haven’t yet read Gladwell’s Outliers just close this blog and get on with it.)

a crucial element to the appeal of video games was the fact that they provided “instantaneous feedback and continual encouragement … while also providing occasional unexpected rewards.”

Hmmm.  Sounds an awful lot like what I have learned as good management and parenting techniques as well.  If only we could, like the video games, make programmatic and routine the application  of these principles.  We people often shy away from the “feedback” part of it and corporations, with their reality-defying need for single consistent application of rules, rarely allow for “occasional unexpected rewards”

A New York Times Magazinearticle this fall profiled “Quest to Learn,” an experimental school in New York City that uses a video game format as a primary framework for teaching. Instead of grades, students achieve levels of experience. Assignments are gaming problems, or “quests” that often require the application of multi-disciplinary skills (English, history and math, for example) to complete.

The game-changing breakthroughs in education over the next 5-10 years will be through the application of technology to the learning process.  Perhaps even this estimate fails to recognize how this is already so.  We have Rosetta Stone Spanish and what they have done with computer assisted adaptive learning is incredible. 

The computer, when well programmed, can tirelessly and unemotionally apply all three principles.  After all, it doesn’t have to worry about how the feedback might affect its relationship with you, it doesn’t fail to get enough sleep the night before, and it doesn’t have anything else to do.

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2 Responses to Can Video Games Teach Us How to Succeed in the Real World?

  1. Pingback: To Begin a Dialogue on Parenting and Education | But If Nots

  2. Bhuvan Nijhawan says:

    what u call shy away from the feedback is the cheating apart of the games that we as humans play…….dont you think….consider for a moment everything that we do is also playing games….playing parents,working for a company, managing teams, being friends,playing part of a team etc. etc….and what we get as consequences are the rewards….only problem, the rewards according to us are most of the times not good enough …….and as far as feedback is concerned…well listening to them ….i think is the key as they are already there.. we just fail to listen to them..or maybe this is just a figment of my imagination or maybe there is a bigger program controling whats happening to us right now…..sounds like matrix..

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