Video games offer new mode of learning
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
A University of Adelaide PhD student has called on society to embrace video games as a potential new learning tool and an integral part of modern Australian culture.
Psychology PhD candidate Daniel King says contrary to media stereotyping, there is no evidence that video games have a detrimental impact on the vast majority of players.
"We have to be careful about putting a label on an activity that is enjoyed by millions of people around the world and - with some exceptions - has a lot of positive applications," Mr King says.
"Many of the games involve a lot of strategy and stimulate the brain in a healthy way - far more so than watching mindless television programs."
Mr King has spent the past three years investigating technological use in today's society, with a specific focus on video game play.
He says apart from a small number of people who become obsessed with video gaming to the detriment of sleep, work and lifestyle, most people cite social interaction (with other players), 'rewards' and an escape from the real world as tangible benefits.
"A lot of educators are also recognising that digital-based and interactive learning is a great tool for teaching and an effective way to get students interested in a subject. Information can be relayed through a video game that will be retained by a younger person far more effectively than many traditional forms of learning.
"There are also many other positive applications for video games. In the medical field they are being used to help children cope post-surgery and as a therapeutic and pain relief tool. The military are also finding them a useful means of training, particularly where strategy is involved."
Mr King's research has shown that 40% of video game players are women and the age range spans from 16-60 years, with an average playing age of 30.
"People from all walks of life play video games, from labourers to highly-skilled people with postgraduate qualifications, so it's activity that has a very diverse demographic.
"Although some of the games contain violent themes, most people can separate the content from reality when they play, just as they do with films and books," he says.
In his PhD thesis, which Mr King has just completed, he surveyed 400 people online from gaming businesses and venues and conducted in-depth interviews with 45 people.
Senior Research Associate
School of Psychology
University of Adelaide
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