I cross posted this on my page's blog as well but it seems as if most people share my ning habits. I tend to stay in the discussion area of the site and don't read the blogs too much. I am kind of new to ning and I am trying to discern the difference between the blog and the discussion format. Anyway...
A little background here. I am 35 years old and I have grown up playing video games. I have had them all from PONG to Playstation to the Wii. I will always enjoy playing video games and am not ashamed of it. My 4 year old son also love playing video games (we do curb him playing time of course) and he is quite good at them. He is restricted to the Disney genre for obvious reasons and he plays the interactive learning computer games as well. He has gotten quite good at these games and is very proficient as he navigates through various websites. I am consistently amazed at both the manual dexterity and the level of intellect he displays through these games.
Should I feel guilty having passed this on to him? This, after all, is environment in which he will be learning so why should I feel guilty? He excercises and loves playing sports with me and we practice reading and writing everyday. There still something inside me, however, that questions what he is learning from playing these games. Is he getting value from games that seem mindless to me and my wife? Is there something to be said for the "maze-like" video game that requires the player to figure his or her way out of an obstacle course of sorts to reach a new level and a nw set of barriers? (sound familiar) I have my own thoughts on the subject an they are obviously pro gaming but I am curious to hear other's responses and experiences.

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There is a lot of research about games and learning, and much of it supports what you probably feel.

From what I've seen, many teachers who incorporate games in the classroom rely heavily on the reflection process and helping students articulate the planning process to support game play. For your son, it might be that the discussions you have about his game play are important. Although it might not seem like he is planning a lot in a twitch game, it's surprising sometimes how even very young children are aware of the strategies they use to beat a game. Talking to him about that would be great, because his putting his experience into words reinforces his actions, and gives him a chance to think at a higher level about what he is doing.

You could also look for games that aren't so twitchy and have more planning. He might be a little young for a game called "The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis", but it's one I highly recommend. It's something you can play with him, and talk about the decisions you make on the way. It's like reading a book to a child that they couldn't read on their own. And I promise, you will enjoy it!

Children's Software Review is a great source for honest reviews of children's software and websites.

I am about your age and also feel ambivalent about the game culture. I don't know much about it now, and I didn't know much about it during the "golden years," either. (The only game I can remember from the 80s is Pac Man!)

The reason I remain ignorant now is mainly because as a new person to the web 2.0 landscape, there is only so much I can wrap my head around, you know? I mean, it was only a few months ago that I though social networks were nothing but glorified dating schemes.

I am slowing coming around in my thinking on a lot of tools, including the game culture. Whereas before I was mainly caught up in the sensationalized accounts of Grand Theft Auto and such, I am now intrigued with how games can be used for simulations and problem solving exercises. You might want to check out Henry Jenkins' two-part interview with David Williamson Shaffer,author of How Video Games Help Children Learn. (You probably have heard of him, but I am a newbie and had not the first clue!) The interview includes a discussion of the notions of "hard fun" and epistemic role playing. It's good stuff, if you haven't read it before.
I am also in the pro game crown. Lke I said I grew up on them. I played sports too, but video games always ha a place. Even today I play online games like World of Warcraft which, if you think about it, is a strategy thinking game that requires you to interact with many different players with many different personalities to reach common goal. Sound familiar? People tend to argue that games take away they player's aability to socialize and interact, but I would argue that these tyoes of games do nothing but encourage socialization and teamwork.
For us it was Mortal Combat on Genesis and Madden
Since no one else has mentioned it, I'll guide you to the work of James Paul Gee, including What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy

But my question is, where do you find the time to learn and play these games? Between work, family, home&vehicles, a little time with friends, contributing to community organizations and events, getting a bit of exercise, keeping current on the duties as citizen-- not least of which is being a prince (one of 300M, to be sure) in a nation at war, improving professional skills and knowledge, and upgrading cultural awareness once in awhile (book, music, poetry, movies, tv, theater), from where come the extra hours to master one of these?

That said, I am obviously in the camp of those who want to see textbooks replaced with games.
Well, I'll have to be the devil's advocate here and say, "it all depends". Of course there is no relationship between games and violence, aggression. I support that conclusion and a game does not make a student. BUT, if on a more cultural level we are to stop youngsters from feeling that society not just legally limits violence, but rather condemns violence wholeheartedly, we should show students alternatives and point them in other ways.

I am bewildered. On one hand, I .love the fact that students learn so much while playing -- whether that be just physiological reactiveness/preparation or the skills of planning, collaborating and being technologically literate. Great. Still, each thing, even inanimate things are habitats of spirit. (okay, sorry I'm getting Gurdieffian...I'll drop it.) . What I want to say point blank is -- we are of the most violent and vicious that mankind has ever bred. We are no better and have regressed into beasts. Really and truly and don't cover your eyes. That is the truth. So where to now?

Do we not owe it to our young, as educators, to offer an alternative?

I spent today looking for some batteries for a big presentation I'm doing tomorrow (my powerpoint clicker needs some special ones. ). I went to the electronic market in Seoul where I live/work. The regular electronics market (the biggest in Asia, if not the world) was half empty. Really like night and day to me, to see so few people there. but then I went to an undiscovered part in the basement -- the games area. It was shoulder to shoulder with youth searching for the newest point and shoot. Is this something we want to ignore? This effort and time and energy towards........

All my years as an educator, I pooh haaad this issue. I don't anymore. It makes young men point and shoot and like other forms of media, desensitizes people to the "other". Which I will remind others, we all are/might be.

I have spent the last 3 years designing many multi media games. Through that process I've become convinced that there are few who are doing it, who really, "get it" . Most want to do it in a sensory overload, spin, twizzle, sparkle, flash, shoot, yahoo fashion. I once made a game which entailed the "murder" to be discovered. This was the bestseller, most downloaded by FAR. Why this? This is not education to click and shoot, whether the outcome is a killing or an answer. There has to be more....

Just had to say this.

I've read through the various posts which all have their points. I grew up with all the games and I continue to game. I have turned more to online with MMPG but I still like a good game of hockey or baseball. I've only had a few occasions to try the Wii but am seriously thinking about it.
I'm the father of 7 children. Of the seven, 6 play games of all different sorts and the 2yr old wants to play games. My daughters( ages 10 - 15) like the Sims and other such games. My oldest son, 6, likes to overcome obstacles so Mario and such are his fashion but he is now liking things like the penguin site. The 4 year old likes things that go fast so racing and games like that are his genre. I watch what they play, helping them if they ask and see that even the move the blog games have them learning things. The two boys know their alphabet because they have learned to type in different urls. My girls, all 4, use the computer for social activity but do some gaming. They like things that challenge their minds and reflexes but don't involve death and killing.
For a twist, we have no tv so that is one influence that is not found.
My observations are that, as long as you monitor what your children are doing, they have to start somewhere and moving the blob does require something from your son. As for the negative from all the killing, war, savagery and dehumanization going on in some games, are we seeing anything different from previous generations? I mean, we played war - killed one another, rescued our wounded buddies and the like. In gym, doctor doctor - hit the opponent to "kill" them and only the doctor can bring them back to life. Granted, no blood and gore (unless you hit someone in the nose). Or are the games a reflection of what is really there - what is being shown on our tv's each day. The death, blood and dehumanization of people for our viewing. Is there a difference? As for the most savage of all time - I believe each generation believes that just like each generation has the worst teenagers.
I believe we have some of the smartest teenagers of all times but, like all youth, they need guidance and that is where we, as those a bit older, can help to guide, question and probe. Will gaming cause problems? Anything in excess will so the trick is to keep playing with your child, taking them for walks, reading, writing, colouring, building and just enjoying what they can do. If playing a few games is part of it, then it's part of it.
btw, I've use The Fall of Rome in my Medieval unit to give students some opportunity to see how their decisions affect what happens to them. It was interesting. So Brad, play away knowing that a well rounded person experiences many different things - gaming could be one of them.



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