Turn online games into educational tools


[JIN DING/CHINA DAILY]

A recent announcement from the National Press and Publications Administration in China limits video game playback to a maximum of one hour per day between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on weekends and holidays. To ensure compliance with the rule, real name verification and facial recognition will be required to access video platforms.

According to reports, these measures were welcomed by Chinese parents. A previous report comparing video games to “spiritual opium” for Chinese youth in their justification for demanding restrictions on them met with little reluctance from parents. The restrictions are administered directly for vendors, including NetEase and Tencent, who have profited overwhelmingly from gambling addiction to the detriment of the health and growth of young people.

The news of the restrictions has been covered around the world and has received approval from other parents elsewhere. Digital addiction is a shared challenge for parents around the world, who have realized that it is an uphill battle to restrict the screen time of children themselves.

During the pandemic, students are also using computers and mobile devices to take online classes, making it more difficult to restrict the use of the devices. Apps for learning, games and other entertainment all converge in one device. Parents are exhausted trying to work, do household chores, and monitor their children’s use of appliances. In this day of ubiquitous connectivity, raising children with digital devices can be difficult for parents of all types.

Digital distraction is real and can affect the daily functioning of minors. In the ideal world, they would have self-regulation to restrict the time they spend on video games and apps, but we know how that can be for students who have not developed the skills of time management and appropriate restraint when it comes to digital ocean siren temptations. Imposing restrictions might not be ideal, but it can send the right message to young children, as well as providers who become experts at using algorithms to train users deeper and deeper into the world. use of their products.

However, sellers should consider developing more learning games or serious games, instead of games that serve no purpose other than filling the coffers of game companies. There is a lot to learn from the game world, such as the joy of winning big wins, a deep immersion in the environment, and the sense of accomplishment players get as they move through the levels. Even “epic chess” provides some satisfaction as players gain experience and grow up in a fairly safe environment.

Learning can be gamified in a way that guides students to success if we design education programs to guide students through levels, from easy to difficult. Students should be given the opportunity to fail in a safe environment and gain valuable information for their growth. As video games that provide instant performance feedback, educators should also shorten the feedback cycle so that students can estimate what they have done well or where improvement would be desirable. When students have mastered a skill, they can celebrate it to gain a deep sense of satisfaction.

Working in an educational institution, I have observed teachers who successfully use the game in their lessons. For example, an English teacher can gamify an assignment by asking students to produce a magazine with themes and characters from the Scarlet Letter. I worked with a professor who designed a WWI simulation game that allows students to make choices at key points in history in a fictional way. Education in many parts of the world is riddled with ills, including lack of purpose, motivation and effectiveness. Maybe we can learn something from the game.

I have also seen vendors working hard to produce valuable educational game tools or platforms such as Quizlet, Kahoot, Brainscape, and Genially. These tools can equip even teachers who have no programming experience to use game methods in lesson design. Some schools or teachers use badges and leader boards to motivate students to achieve various learning outcomes. Their efforts and investment provide tools for educators, parents and students. Therefore, an opportunity presents itself for the gaming industry to merge in the path of productive educational games.

The author is a Texas-based columnist. Opinions do not necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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