Turn online games into educational tools


A recent announcement from the National Press and Publication Administration in China limits video game play to a maximum of one hour per day between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on weekends and holidays. To ensure the rule is followed, real name verification and facial recognition will be required to access video platforms.

According to the media, these measures have been welcomed by Chinese parents. A previous report likening video games to “spiritual opiate” for young Chinese in their justification for demanding restrictions against them met with little pushback from parents. The restrictions are administered directly to vendors, including NetEase and Tencent, who have massively profited from gambling addiction at the expense of the health and growth of young people.

News of the restrictions was covered around the world and received endorsement from other parents elsewhere. Digital addiction is a common challenge for parents around the world, who have come to realize that it is difficult to limit children’s screen time on their own.

During the pandemic, students are also using computers and mobile devices to take online classes, making it more difficult to restrict device usage. Apps for learning, gaming, and other entertainment all converge into one device. Parents are exhausted from trying to work, do household chores, and monitor their kids’ device usage. In this age of ubiquitous connectivity, raising children with digital devices can be challenging for parents of all types.

Digital distraction is real and can alter the day-to-day functioning of minors. In the ideal world, they would have the self-regulation to limit the time they spend on video games and apps, but we know how that can be for students who haven’t developed the proper time management skills and restraint in the face of the temptations of the sirens of the digital ocean. Imposing restrictions may not be ideal, but it can send the right message to young children, as well as to providers who are becoming experts in using algorithms to lead users deeper and deeper into the game. use of their products.

However, publishers should consider developing more learning games or serious games, rather than games that serve no purpose other than filling game company coffers. We can learn a lot from the game world, such as the joy of big wins, the deep immersion in the environment, and the sense of accomplishment players feel when going through levels. Even “epic chess” provides some satisfaction as players gain experience and evolve in a relatively safe environment.

Learning can be gamified in ways that guide students to success if we design educational programs to guide students through levels from easy to difficult. Students must have the opportunity to fail in a safe environment and gain valuable information for their growth. As video games provide instant feedback on performance, educators should also shorten the feedback cycle for students to gauge what they did well or what could be improved. When students have mastered a skill, they can celebrate it to feel a deep sense of satisfaction.

Working in an educational institution, I have observed teachers successfully using the game in their lessons. For example, an English teacher can gamify an assignment by asking students to produce a magazine with Scarlet Letter themes and characters. I worked with a professor who designed a World War I simulation game that lets students make choices at key moments in history in a fictional way. In many parts of the world, education is riddled with ills, including lack of purpose, motivation and effectiveness. Maybe the game can teach us something.

I have also seen vendors working hard to produce valuable educational game tools or platforms such as Quizlet, Kahoot, Brainscape, and Genially. These tools can equip even teachers who have no programming experience to use game methods in lesson design. Some schools or teachers use badges and leaderboards to motivate students to achieve various learning outcomes. Their efforts and investments provide tools for educators, parents and students. Therefore, an opportunity arises for the game industry to merge in the way of productive educational games.

The author is a Texas-based columnist. Opinions do not necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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