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Gaming is frowned upon at the high school level. How can we turn that gaming interest into a positive in the classroom at this level?

I am a high school teacher. I have many male students that are gamers in my class. It is cases like Columbine that make it difficult for teachers to promote gaming if it contains any violence at all. I would love to find out how to use this interest in gaming to promote higher level learning in my classroom, but many games involve violence--which is a taboo subject in the schools.

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    Mar 17 2011: I think the stigmas attributed to gaming hamper a lot of potentials that we could access in humans. I believe that all activities should be in some way turned into games, this way the interest level can be maintained and learning becomes inherent in all our activities.
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    Mar 17 2011: Check out anything by Jane McGonigal on this site, and read her book. She knows all about changing the world for the better through gaming.

    You don't necessarily have to use the games themselves, but use game-mechanics to make lessons more interesting. Set a clear goal, make up some rules, and have a feedback system. Probably not so much in secondary school, but in primary school they've done away with competition, grading and goals. Kids have no idea that what they're doing is important and just a step in gaining properly interesting knowledge. Once I told my kids there was such a thing as reading levels and that he was on the lowest one, he was a lot more motivated to level up!

    Otherwise, in the current Call of Duty there are things like CoD money and Wager matches. Could be interesting to learn about money, probabilities, investment/risk... Also, in World of Warcraft, there are plenty of opportunities to explore geography, trade/supply and demand/business, strategy, planning, group and team work etc.

    If you want to use games, you're going to have to play them to gain an understanding of how they work. Just pasting a pretend interest in gaming onto your lessons won't work, but it doesn't sound like that's what you meant. Well done.

    I've also spotted some common misconceptions in your question. Ask the girls in your class what games they play, because they are as likely to be gamers as the boys! Also, plenty if not most games are not violent at all. There are loads of non-violent games, they just get less publicity.
  • Mar 17 2011: There is no (longer [a]) significant link between gaming and violence. Violent crime peaked in 1991-1992, and have been declining since. While first person shooters have made significant strides (for better or worse) in terms of both realism and popularity in that same time frame. It is fairly safe to conclude there is little true danger in them. While such a statement may be called out for confusing correlation with causation- that is not actually the case- I am merely putting forward that utter lack or correlation dispels possibility of causation.

    That said- I would not hesitate to use games such as Call of Duty in the classroom (if anyone complains- tell them to deal with it- you are preparing students for college and in a college environment there will be far more controversial topics covered). I am unsure of your subject, however one could very readily discuss the appeals of first person shooters on a psychological and cultural level. Physics and other maths and sciences could be employed to calculate simplified versions of the in-game action.

    By starting with the first suggestion (talking about why it appeals), one can then construct an educational program built around that part of the mind that seems so active in teenagers and capitalize on it.

    From a non-game-builder situation, that is probably one of your more feasible courses of action.
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    Mar 16 2011: Hi Amy, that's a noble goal,I think that it's feasible to capture the highschool audience using gaming. If you would examine the genre of games popular amongst teenagers they're mostly violent shooter games such as Call of Duty and GTA to name a couple. I believe that is why educational games never really took off in the 12+ age category. Thinking about it however, if you could find a way to integrate education into those games regardless of their genre, i.e. make it more of a subconcious learning game rather than a pointless shooter game with out gamers being aware that it is one. I can think of multiple ways this can be done, for instance we can integrate real history and social material into the storylines of those games instead of fictional works.

    Ziyad B.