There are an estimated 15 million active gamers in Australia. Gaming is addictive because it can make the gamer feel great about the ‘work’ and the successes that they experience in a game. Games reward the gamer and give immediate feedback, which engages and motivates the gamer to play more. There are numerous potential benefits of gaming, such as improving educational learning, maintaining memory in the elderly, increasing human happiness, bringing people together, promoting problem-solving skills and gaming for social innovation.
Games have been around forever! People have played board games, card games, ball games, etc. for many centuries. Playing games is a great way to socialise. Think about the common characteristics of card and board games, or ‘sports’-type games. Most good games require practice, specific skills, concentration, communication and problem solving. Digital games are the same! Whether I am playing pool or playing World of Warcraft (WoW), I need to concentrate, problem-solve, think critically, practice and communicate to improve my skills in these games. Both games can be frustrating and yet once I achieve a goal, like hitting a ball in the pocket in pool or leveling up in WoW, I feel exhilarated and I ‘whoop’ out loud; this feeling is fiero!
Fiero is what we feel after we triumph over adversity. You know it when you feel it – and when you see it. That’s because we almost all express fiero in exactly the same way: we throw our arms over our head and yell. – Jane McGonigal, Reality is Broken.
I like to teach Game design & development in IT subjects because teenagers likely already have experience and prior knowledge of gaming. It is easy to relate to my students because I know of (and sometimes have played) the games that they play and I also understand some of their frustrations around gaming, such as dealing with the common perception that gaming is a ‘waste of time’ and results in addictive, anti-social behaviour. Yet, there are numerous reports and studies that link gaming to improved academic success, better learning and improved attention span. Games increase happiness, reduces stress, improves problem-solving skills, and promotes creativity and innovation. Businesses and organisations, like the military, have been using game design principles in simulations that improve employee performance in their given field of work. Some games have been designed specifically to encourage gamers to collaborate together to solve difficult problems in society and in science; here is one example: https://www.engadget.com/2016/09/19/gamers-beat-scientists-to-protein-discovery/
Games are fun to teach and it is very possible that my students may work in the gaming industry in the future, especially given the size of this industry. The digital/video gaming industry has been around for a while and I first got hooked on it when I was about 8 years old when I received my first handheld Donkey Kong game.