24 Aug

There is now little or no reason for education stakeholders in the country not to fully incorporate video games in the curriculum, a new study on the relationship between the games and learning has shown.

Aiming to find the role of video games in the ability of young learners to acquire, synthesize and apply concepts, the latest study done on boys and girls between 12 and 18 years in Nairobi has shown that video games as learning tools “allow use of various principles and strategies which ensure that all learners benefit from the learning process.”

Video games are capable of employing several learning principles like Psychosocial Moratorium, Identity principle, Self-knowledge, among others, which enable learners achieve the desired learning outcomes,” notes Dr Anne Achieng‘ of the University of Nairobi’s Department of Educational Studies.

Dubbed “Video Games and Learning: A new Paradigm for Education in Africa” the research done in late 2015 also establishes that digital games, just like other games, are an effective way of learning as they allow gamers independent time to practice and collaborate with others.

Research has also consistently shown that playing computer games produces reductions in reaction times, improved hand-eye coordination and raises player’s self-esteem,” reveals Dr Acheing.

For instance, among the primary school learners taking part in this study, there was an aspect of learners’ motivation when they play video games.

And as for high school respondents, 75 per cent agreed that video games are energising and motivating, which encourages playing and winning, learning more and engaging with others,” she observes.

As to how this actually takes place, she writes:

Researches allover have shown that learning takes place better when students are in a positive emotional state. And video games can create such a positive emotional impact through their compelling design.”

At the same time, she notes in her publication, students learn best when they are emotionally stable, a factor that many video games effectively foster.

This was evident in this study as more than half of the respondents agreed that video games make them emotionally stable,” explains the senior lecturer.

However, according to the researcher, there are several downsides about heavily depending on video games for learning, including being addictive, time-wasting, fatigue, frustration and at times have the potential to create deep enmity between friends,”especially if the winning is imbalanced”.

Other studies have also shown that video games cause participants to become excited to the point of acting out what they play in real life, which at times can get them into serious trouble,” adds Dr Achieng.

Nevertheless, she says, video games are “basically good” and curriculum developers and policy makers should embrace video games by preparing curricula which fully accommodate the same.

In the process, there is a dire need for educationists to collaborate with IT service providers and computer labs on ways and means of producing games which are relevant to a given subject and setting,” she recommends.