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Benefits Of Computer Games

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Recently, in this modern world that we live in, through the course of the improvement of technology, computer games became very popular among the youth. Whether we like it or not, computer games greatly influences our society today. Computer games become a part of people's lives. Almost everyone has been exposed to some kind of computer game - be it role playing games, puzzle games, action games played on a console, a personal computer, or a handheld device. Because of this sudden interest in computer games, concerns about its effects, may it be positive or negative, arise. Being in a modern world, we naturally question these things. Is it a safe practice to play these games? Will it bring any good?

Although many people think that it is unhealthy to play computer games, I believe that, in moderation, computer games can be beneficial in many ways such as in leisure and experience, learning, as well as improving our cognitive, logical, and managerial skills.

First of all, video games can be considered as naturally alluring because of its aesthetic images and the realistic experiences that comes with it. As Poole said, video games, especially in these modern times, have very detailed audio-visual effects, usually presenting a simulated fantasy world that appears to be close to reality (qtd. in Mitchel and Savill-Smith 17). Truly, computer games improved visually and became more realistic these past few years. These "fantasy worlds" are commonly found in simulation games, which is very useful for learning because it allows players to experience things that might be impossible or too expensive (Mitchel and Savill-Smith 20). Because of this, video games can be liberating by allowing people to do things they cannot normally do.

These games are also usually integrated with stories, which, according to McLellan, "are one of the most fundamental and powerful synthetic experiences available to us (qtd in Mitchel and Savill-Smith 20).

Games also always have goals and challenges which motivate the player to do better due to the fact that winning over these challenges result in immediate effects like rewards which can be satisfying to the player. Moreover, because of the recent improvement in internet technology, computer games can be played with people all over the world which makes the game more spontaneous and gives it a seemingly endless array of challenges and scenarios (Mitchel and Savill-Smith 17-18).

Another important part of games is its enjoyable property. Malone, in attempt to examine video games in detail in terms of their aesthetics, finds out that "games relieve stress as well as cause emotions to rise and fall. Curiosity, fantasy, interaction, and challenge are probably the four top reasons people enjoy computer and video games. All of these characteristics are good in themselves and can be aligned with content to teach understanding in a fun and interactive medium" (qtd. in Hostetter, 2002)

Having established that video games have a seductive nature, we can say that they can be helpful in propagating lessons and messages especially to the younger audience. People will naturally be interested because it will be more enjoyable to learn through these games. As Samsung Electronics Philippines president and CEO Sang Youl Eom said, "Gaming is a natural course -- there's no stopping it. It is a good introduction to technology because it makes learning fun."(qtd in Magno)

Games can also be used to help facilitate learning and help develop determination. As mentioned before, challenges and goals, along with the corresponding rewards of accomplishing these challenges bring, help motivate the players to do better. This motivation and determination can be reflected on people's attitudes towards learning. Just like players are motivated to do better for higher top-scores, they are also determined to do better in their studies. A good example of how games are used to encourage learning can be seen by the honor roll programs of a gaming company named Level-Up Games. In this program, players are encouraged to study hard and acquire and maintain a minimum grade to show his or her efforts in keeping a good balance of priorities. Doing so will merit the player some in-game rewards such as money or exceptional items.

Aside from developing one's determination towards a goal, computer games can be used as tools for learning. As James Paul Gee, Professor of Reading at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said, "Video games have the potential to lead to active and critical learning. In fact, I believe that they often have a greater potential than much learning in school" (46) He said that computer games help improve one's "visual literacy" or the ability to comprehend images. He reasons out that "today images, symbols, graphs, diagrams, artifacts, and many other visual symbols are particularly significant." Furthermore, he said that nowadays, images are often found together with text in magazines, textbooks, and other reading materials so it is very valuable to improve one's visual literacy to be able to understand the messages within the images. (Gee 13)

James also said that computer games are not just for entertainment because it also incorporates many important learning principles. Through the challenges found in games, players are encourage to try different ways of learning and thinking. (Gee 6)

According to Randel et al., "computer games have been particularly effective in raising achievement levels of both children and adults in areas such as maths and language." As said before, computer games are attractive because of its audio visual aesthetics and its story which will help retain the interest of the players. By incorporating lessons in these games, it ensures learning for the players. He also said that using these games for quizzes lead to positive results in retaining student interest as compared to traditional classroom approaches because students enjoyed the approach (qtd. in Mitchel and Savill-Smith 25).

There was also a study conducted by Schwartz comparing the traditional teacher-based tutoring on reading comprehension with practicing on computer games that are based on the study of the reading process. In his experiment, the children were split into two groups and assigned to either teacher-based tutoring or computer-game training, both involving word decoding and phonics. The study showed that even if both groups improved in reading and comprehension, the poorest readers assigned to computer-game training showed the most significant improvement (qtd. in Harris 12).

With the ability of computer games to help facilitate in learning, it would certainly aid learning in school. It opens many possibilities for computer games in the field of education. By incorporating

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