In defense of computer games

Computer games may be good for children, according to a three-year study of 13- to 16-year-olds conducted at Brunel University in West London. The Scotsman reports:

Online role-playing games — where players compete against other, unseen players — may give young people vital lessons in learning about other races, the opposite sex and those with disabilities.

. . . And far from becoming pale prisoners of their own bedrooms, regular players were found to enhance rather than restrict their imagination, the study found.

Because the game allows them to meet other role-playing gamers, many youngsters also get the chance to find out about different nationalities and races they would not normally come into contact with.

Children who aren’t allowed to explore the physical world because of their parents’ fears can explore virtual worlds, researchers say.

It’s not exactly “leave no child inside,” is it?

Update: In World of Borecraft, Justin Peters writes that most educational games have a lot to learn from Grand Theft Auto.

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Comments

  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    And don’t forget the survival skills from waiting in line for the next gotta have machine.

  2. I have read that computer game flight simulators are good for teaching basic aviation skills. I do think a virtual world is a poor substitue for real world experince. I do not think many employers are going to ask how well an applicant managed a simulated organization.

  3. Deirdre Mundy says:

    On the other hand, is playing computer games for several hours a night any worse than watching TV?

    I’d argue that it’s better– at least it’s not completely passive, and there is some human interaction involved….

    Of course it would be better if the kids were reading, exploring the wilderness, volunteering or playing outside….

    But all of these things aren’t mutually exclusive….

    In highschool I regularly played soccer and street hockey with my friends, read novels voraciously, participated in extra-curricular activities, did all my homework (at a math/science magnet, no less!)and played Battletech Muse (a text-based version of these newer games) for a few hours a night…. and I still always got at least 8 hours of sleep (Though two of them were on my excruciatingly long bus ride…)

    kids have ALOT of free time even after you take school and sleep into account…. Most can play video games AND do all the normal things… as long as they don’t waste much time on television….

  4. When the article says:

    Online role-playing games — where players compete against other, unseen players — may give young people vital lessons in learning about other races, the opposite sex and those with disabilities.

    Do they mean the elder races of elves and dwarves? And do the disabilities include those who have had a limb chopped off by an orc? And, yeah, the opposite sex. Since there are soooo many girls playing online games. Shaaa.

  5. Seriously, the biggest tragedy I’ve encountered in moving from my Windows ME computer to a new one running Vista is that I can no longer play Sid Meier’s Gettysburg. After playing the game for a few years, I took my young son to the battlefield. Sitting atop Little Round Top I popped the game into the laptop and we looked around–having “battled” over that terrain hundreds of times on the computer, it was all brought home.

    http://rightontheleftcoast.blogspot.com/2005/01/computer-games-and-education.html

  6. Darren,

    Which do you think was better for enhancing your visit to the battlefield: Meire’s Gettyburg the game, Killer Angels the book or Killer Angel’s the movie?

  7. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Lots of remote kill vehicles and planes coming on line. See “Ender’s Game” for the example.