By Dr. David Alejandro Ornelas Gutiérrez*
Today, video games represent one of the most lucrative entertainment industries.. In 2021, the global video game market reached figures close to 200,000 million dollars Americans and it is estimated that in the next five years video game sales will reach 340,000 million dollars (Orús, 2022).
However, there is a strong popular belief that video games represent only a means of entertainment and fun. Also, The idea that video games promote violence among children and adolescents is widespread. who use them regularly. Contrary to what is usually thought, they have important educational benefits, since they are means to strengthen learning processes and human development.
First of all, it is possible to talk about the benefits in cognitive development. Video games facilitate the development of skills such as decision-making under pressure, calculated risk-taking, lateral and strategic thinking, as well as strengthening attitudes such as persistence and ethical behavior (Prensky, 2005; cited by Gros, 2009). This is particularly possible in so-called “serious games”, which are learning tools that allow participants to experiment, learn from their mistakes and gain experience in a safe way, in environments that are often dangerous. The central purpose of serious games is to create a learning environment that allows you to experiment with real problems.. There are various categories and modalities of serious games, related to all kinds of sectors of social life, such as education, health, government and NGOs, defense, companies, industry, marketing and communications (Gros, 2009). The common denominator of all of them is that they are learning environments that favor the development of complex skills.such as problem solving and decision making, in a playful and highly motivating setting.
Video games can also favor the development of scientific thinking in its cognitive aspects, metacognitive and motivational. Cognitive achievements depend on the quality of the interaction between the game and the player, the nature of the phenomena explored in the game, and the flexibility of the possible ways to achieve the goals set in the video game. Instead, metacognitive achievements are a function of variables such as the explicit presentation of learning goals, the space for evaluation within the process, and the scaffolding in the use of metacognitive strategies when playing (Montes, Baldeón, Ochoa, & Bonilla, 2018). ). From this perspective, video games would make it possible to train qualified scientists; men and women who contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge in different areas of knowledge. In this way, it is worth considering the use of video games as a pedagogical alternative, either in learning activities inside or outside the classroom.
In addition to their contributions to cognitive development, it is important to recognize that video games have important benefits for social-emotional development. Today more than ever, the need for people to be able to identify and regulate their emotions and those of others is recognized., as well as having the necessary skills for coexistence, such as empathy, communication and collaboration. Video games can help their users strengthen these skills.
According to the findings of the study carried out by Revuelta and Guerra (2012), video games favor motivation and collaboration. When playing with others, either in person or online, children and young people help each other overcome challenges and overcome obstacles in their quest to complete missions and earn better rewards. Playing video games develops emotional skills such as overcoming challenges, increasing self-confidence and expressing feelings (Pindado 2005, cited by Téllez and Iturriaga, 2014). Likewise, video games favor the internalization of norms, collaboration and teamwork. Of course, obtaining these benefits depends on the genre of video game that is chosen. In this sense, sports video games and role-playing games are more conducive to developing socialization skills and emotional self-regulation.
If these reasons do not convince the reader, we can talk about the strictly educational benefits of video games. In this regard, it should be noted that video games help students build disciplinary knowledge and develop information and digital skills. An example of this is found in the pedagogical experience carried out by Antonia Bernat and other Catalan teachers, in which taught social science content with sixth-grade students through a video game Age of Empires. In this didactic experience, the students developed instrumental skills for managing multimedia environments (from how to access the program, creating scenarios, selecting a historical period, choosing the difficulty levels and configuring graphic aspects of the game, among others), management skills information and digital resources, communication skills and skills for reflective criticism on the use of technology (Bernat, 2008).
Additionally, it has been shown that video games contribute to improving the learning of curricular subjects that are usually perceived as “boring” by students. The work published by Téllez and Iturriaga (2014) documents how the popular saga assassin’s creed It has been used by History teachers to improve the learning experience of their students.
On the other hand, video games can be useful teaching tools to promote the development of skills, at the same time that economic resources are saved and risks are minimized. In this sense, it is possible to cite the use of flight simulators in the training of commercial, military and space aircraft pilots; or, the use of computerized simulators in the training of surgeons, which allow them to develop the abilities and skills required to carry out successful surgical interventions, without putting the safety and life of patients at risk (Carrasco, García and Carrasco, 2013).
Games generate more benefits than one thinkssince a player may be creating habits that promote the best and fastest decision-making, which will work when working in a company, since one more than receiving orders always has to understand that he is there to solve problems, quickly and accurate.
Even, thanks to video games and virtual reality, today there are jobs where people with a profile specialized in games are sought, such as people who drive drones or implement simulations to understand flight situations, fires, or medical emergencies. In all these areas, game-based simulations are used to train and sensitize staff, who gain life experience without harming or endangering themselves. In the near future, games will allow, with their hyperrealism, to understand many social situations, since they will simulate various scenarios that one wishes to understand.
In summary, it is clear that video games can offer much more than hours of entertainment.. While it is true that it is convenient to monitor the behavior of children and adolescents when they use consoles and other technological means, it is also fair to recognize that their interaction with these devices and with other people —players— brings important benefits for their cognitive and socio-emotional development. . In addition, it is necessary to recognize the pedagogical value of videogames and be aware that these resources can be significant learning providers for their users. Therefore, when your children or your students want to start a new game, consider the opportunity to say: “Let’s play. Go ahead play”.
*David Alejandro Ornelas professor at the College of Social Sciences and Humanities and academic coordinator of the Doctorate in Education at CETYS University.
Editor’s Note: This text belongs to our Opinion section and reflects only the author’s vision, not necessarily the High Level point of view.
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