In a society saturated with technology, literacy plays a central and enabling role when it comes to success and prosperity. Add to that a rapid rate of technological change, and the ability to learn fast, let alone a zeal for education, is crucial.
While there are some who may dismiss and belittle game playing as a waste of time, a growing chorus of researchers and experts are championing the educational and pedagogical benefits of video games.
Game designer Eric Zimmerman places games in a powerful context: “although games are ancient… we’re moving into an age in which games have a new relevance and centrality to culture that they haven’t had in the past.”
In particular games provide a way for people to learn, a way for people to socialize, a means of exploring parts of themselves that they would not be able to in other ways.
Yet the culture nurtured by games does not limit itself to the gaming world. Rather it extends into the rest of the web, and society as a whole.
The motivation behind the generosity, behind the peer to peer learning, is the desire for community and connection. Games not only foster a different means of learning, it applies said learning to social dynamics, interpersonal relationships, and the communities that provide meaning to our lives.
Stephen Gillett is a successful corporate executive who also happens to be a leader of a gaming clan. He describes the social bond and the rapid learning that occurs via multiplayer gaming: “you go on a raid with someone you know that person, you’re talking to them, watching them play, listening to their voice, interpreting their strategy seeing their performance, you know an hour into it who they are.”
There is a reason why a lot of young people are able to wield advanced literacies when it comes to digital and mobile media. The games they play teach them how to learn on the fly, how to collaborate, and how to build communities quickly, whether around a game, an event, or even a joke.
The kids playing Minecraft today may well be the architecture of our future.
Are you part of a learning community? Is play a part of your educational routine? Are you tech savvy? Do you want to be?