What is Educational Gaming?
Games that are specifically designed for educational goals or those which provide incidental or secondary educational value are referred to as educational games. All game types may be used as educational tools. Games designed to better skills, provide a venue for learning new concepts, reinforce development, or used to immerse the players and helping them understand key events, history or culture, or simply for the gaining of new skills, are educational games. Board or card games as well as video games can be educational games. These games are designed so that they will help game users to learn about a specific subject or pick up a new skill. Educational gaming is now mainstream largely due to government, educators and parents realization of the psychological needs and benefits gaming has on the learning process. Done in a story format, these games provide opportunity for goal setting, learning rules, do problem solving for people in an interactive environment. These games not only sate our basic need for learning but provide enjoyment, a milieu for passionate involvement, motivation, self-gratification; an opportunity for creativity, social interaction and expression of emotion as the games are played.
Game play with defined learning outcomes is a type referred to as “Game-based learning. This is designed so that the subject of the game and the game play is balanced; allowing the player to imbibe and apply these in the real world.
The present technological advances has shifted the preference on what game types people now play. People now tend to do more video games vis-a-vis traditional board games. This has given rise to software development for the creation of these electronic games. The software creation to stimulate the cognitive development of the gamer is categorized by three approaches. First of the three is for educators and programmers developing from scratch; second is the integration of “commercial off-the-shelf”(COTS) products and the third is students creating games from scratch. A clear understanding of the instructor’s learning outcomes with the integration of COTS in the classroom is by far the most time and cost effective approach. For this to be effective, the teacher must believe in the positive impact of digital gaming to education. Effectiveness also requires the teacher’s own ability in the use of digital games. Students are usually adept at digital gaming but there is a perceived lack of teachers’ confidence in the incorporation of digital games resulting to less favorable results with the use of electronic gaming as an educational tool.
While teachers must boost their self-efficacy in digital gaming, it should be coupled with the understanding that the built-in learning process is what makes it enjoyable. The player progress thru the game by learning. These makes the player feel a sense of achievement, Ideal learning environments can be achieved through well-designed games that keep players motivated. Players of interactive games which make people actively engage in the learning process face real-world challenges much easier.