Learning with video games
Articles,  Blog

Learning with video games

Have you ever had this feeling of guilt, when
you’re playing video games for just a little bit too long? You know you should be doing
something else, but you still feel this urge to complete just one more quest, get one more
level done. But the more time you sink in, the worse you feel about yourself.
To me that started happening in my twenties. And it kind of makes sense now, because at
the time my ambitions grew, so my free time became more valuable, but playing games didn’t
bring me any closer to my goals. But I still loved, I loved getting immersed into game
worlds, you know, getting pulled by the excitement of doing that one more turn, getting one more
skill level. And so I liked these psychological tricks that games played on me, but I hated
when the result was just time passing by. So why can’t games help us reach our goals?
Why can’t I learn something while playing them? I remember the times when strategy games would
include rich encyclopedias, and they would explain history and science behind the gameplay.
It was all right there in the game often. I would play Caesar 2 and learn about the
Romans, how their buildings in their cities worked. In SimAnt I could travel underground,
following an ant, and you could look into the game help and learn how in real life ants
build ant nests, and model yours after that. I’m a huge player of SimCity series, from
2000 to SimCity 4, you learn how the economy binds cities together. This was in the 90s
and I really hoped to see more learning happen with games in the future. But instead, as
time passed on, encyclopedias got shorter or completely disappeared, games would focus
less on science, and when mobile games came along, passing the time really became its
own genre and the psychological tricks became just the means to its own end. I mean, that’s
alright you know, to each its own, but I personally, I want to create things in my life, I want
to learn as much as possible, and I want to play video games that bring me further on
this journey. Games are a wonderful medium for learning.
They offer something that lectures, and books, and videos can’t, which is interactivity,
exploration, learning by doing.  Now, when we play games we already hone our
reflexes and critical thinking, but it’s only our characters that are gaining actual
skills in the games. Our own list of things that we can do remains the same. 
So for example, when I play The Sims, I can learn how to make better choices in my life,
it inspires me to try new things. But it is only my Sim that knows how to paint better
after I spend 5 hours in the game.  And so, why can’t we be the ones learning
skills by playing video games? Why is it only our characters?
And I think it could be us. Now, it’s important to note that all the
learning materials, you know, that will get you from drawing stick figures to a master
painter are already out there. Now that we have the internet, the cost of knowledge of
masters is pretty much zero dollars. But the thing is, it’s not just the knowledge that
we’re missing, we are missing the change in our behavior.
And so when you play The Sims, it’s very easy to change your character’s behavior.
If you want to get better at drawing you can simply click and you can make the Sim practice
for days on end. Now reading tutorials and practicing in real life will get you all the
knowledge and skills that you need, but doing so for days on end is far from as simple as
clicking. To succeed you need to change your environment. You need to get so engulfed in
the world of art that learning and doing becomes a natural consequence. You know, it’s why
people go to art school.  But what if you can’t go to art school?
What if you don’t have the time or the money to pursue this full-time? What if you just
wanted to do this on the side, how could you get the experience, that adventure of being
an art student, from your own home? Like, what medium could we use that would capture
your imagination, and immerse you into another world, and let you interact with it?
Well, obviously, video games. Video games are perfect for learning environments.
If games are carefully designed for learning, it’s OK if we become obsessed, if we play
countless hours to do one more push, gain one more level. Because the reward at the
end is not just three letters on a high score chart, but a mastery of a real-life skill
that you can use to make your own dreams come true.
Hey guys, if you know me you know that I don’t like to just complain on the Internet. If
I see something that I feel needs to be changed I just go and do it. So I’m making my own
video game for learning how to draw. It’s a text adventure and it’ll eventually be a
point-and-click adventure. So you can try, go and play it at pixelart.academy, link in
the description. I also finally started my Patreon where I share the development of the
game as well as other Retronator business, which is mostly writing about video games
and pixel art and stuff like that. So if you want more videos like this, subscribe to the
channel, if you like the video, hit the thumbs up, and if you really like it, support me
on Patreon.


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