Video Games and Learning: an Ongoing Process

Hey folks! Sorry for not updating Monday, it’s been a heck of a week! My post today isn’t going to be anything special (which I’m sure you’re secretly cheering about, I know sometimes I can get a little on the deep and wordy side of things), but it’s just something new and exciting happening in the life of a video game blogger.

If you’ve never heard of Coursera, it’s a pretty cool place to be nowadays. It’s basically a website where professors offer free online courses and certifications in a VERY wide range of subjects. The link is included in the handy-dandy logo below. Sign up if you’ve got any free time at all! I have no free time and I’m still doing stuff.

Education for everyone??? WHAT A NOVEL IDEA.

Education for everyone??? WHAT A NOVEL IDEA.


I get the feeling that it’s very common and popular for EDUCATORS especially to utilize this fantastic and interesting tool… because Common Core is being implemented in schools everywhere (at least in California where I am), and there were about 10 courses offered about different facets of that program last time everything came out. Not that you’re interested, but I stay current on more than video games.


Point being, one of the more interesting courses that was offered (and I decided to take [hence this blog post {but you probably got that already}]) is “Video Games and Learning.” Essentially, it’s an educational approach to the way people play video games, and it takes a deeper look in whether or not video games can be used in the classroom to create a better learning environment or give kids novel ways to learn through playing. As a musician, it’s obvious to me that learning by playing has value, but this course will probably give me a much better understanding of how to do it in a classroom.

I get it. It’s more about education than video games. Trust me, I figured that one out as soon as the lecturer said “Massively Multiplayer Online Games.” Guess who the target audience is! Not gamers.

But this is absolutely something that’s relevant to game designers, because like I’ve said multiple times in my posts: modern games SUCK at teaching their players. Everything useful to them is either taught to them in a klunky tutorial with lots of “go-here” and “pick this up,” and all of the interesting fluff and lore is relegated to that awful “Journal” or “Log” tab in your menu that you just leave blinking because you’ve got 90 “New” entries to read. (Skyrim and Mass Effect excluded, as they put their lore in their game fairly well, but… Mass Effect, I’m not letting your Journal tab off easy. That crap was crazy.)

It’s also relevant to us as gamers, as we can better pick up things from our games, as well as better learning to solve problems and look at games in a more problem-oriented way. People ask how one can be “good at video games.” Apart from learning WASD controls at some point, most of what being good at video games entails is being able to anticipate and get a good idea of what the problems are like in the game you’re playing, and what skills you need to have to be successful against them. Sounds pretty simple when you break it down, but that’s video games in a nutshell.


Anyway, I’m learning lots of groundbreaking stuff already, and that’s the whole point of the post: periodically I’m going to be dedicating a blog post to whatever’s currently up in the class, and I’ll distill it to my more gamer-y audience (aka skipping the part where he explains about a WoW character as an air-quote “avatar.” Cringe-worthy).

First post on it’s coming Monday. Lots of great stuff for any aspiring gamedevs out there!



About Isaac Smith

I write about music, technology, video games, and probably many other subjects that don't bear mentioning here. Either way, most of it's worth reading, and you may even enjoy yourself!

Posted on October 11, 2013, in Miscellaneous. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. This is really interesting, I happend across your blog by accident – looking at reccomended blogs on my WordPress homepage. I believe it came up with yours because we’re both writing about games, although I blog about board games. But I agree with you about the value of considering video games as a medium through which to teach. People, especially parents, are very quick to condemn video games because of the high levels of violence and other things they feel that the games expose their children to. This is reasonable as games have become more violent and sexual etc as society has become more accepting of these things. But it would be good, rather than saying “okay, yeah, it’s true, games are violent” to be able to say “Right, some games are violent, but look at all these other games there are out there that can help your child to learn, and grow, and develop!”. Companies produce games for children that help them learn to spell or read or whatever, but they tend not to produce games for teenagers, or adults that teach them other things.
    In my opinion this is a shame, and a waste of such a popular entertainment medium.

    Coursera looks like a really interesting site, I signed up and i’m enrolled on a course about Genes and Biotechnology… Not my first area of interest, but it’s good to be a little diverse!

    • Games are inherently about besting others (or besting one’s self). We don’t mind the physical contact of sports like soccer, rugby and American football, and even consider injuries of a gruesome nature to be “part of the game.” Think about the benefits of these types of games, and then consider the fact that video games have many of these benefits without the dangers to one’s self or to one’s opponents (psychological or physical: being beaten sucks, too).

      A little violence is tolerable. The proverbial example of GTA and “killing hookers” is less so. Just saying.

      I’m glad you’ve stumbled upon my blog, and thanks for writing such an insightful and well-thought-out comment. I’ll definitely check out your blog in the future! 🙂


      • Thanks!
        It’s kinda funny because I have an ongoing argument with a guy I work with about GTA and the unnecessarily violent nature of the game, I argue that i’d rather play a board game that challenges me intellectually and allows to me real interaction with others, than drive around kill hookers. Basically.

        I’ll be sure to keep reading yours posts, they’re definitely worth the internet time!


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