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On the Value of Good Computer Games

My thanks to Chris Brogan for posting Games and Fun on his blog this morning, linking to Jane McGonical’s Gaming Can Make a Better World video on (embedded below).

In his post, Chris says:

Forget the rest of my blog post and just watch this. Ask yourself whether or not you could make more fun and more games out of what we all do for a living.

Which reminds me that I think some kinds of games are great teachers. I’m very grateful that I spent a lot of time as a kid playing strategy games, particularly the Avalon-Hill strategy games that took hours and involved lots of cardboard pieces on maps. I played that one forward with my own kids, in a sense, by spending time with them on computer strategy games, most notably Age of Empires. I think a good game is a powerful lesson. Especially when it’s fun.

I should add, though, that I’m talking here about good games. The strategy games teach. And a lot of other types of games are quietly teaching while doing. Think of the word games, puzzle games, role playing games. Take a look at Civilization, the game.

And I have to add that I’m definitely not saying all computer games are good for anybody. Obviously. There are a lot of computer games out there that are mind numbing or (think shoot-em-up) worse. In my opinion.


  • isaac best says:

    i know what your all saying. i play alot of military strategy games. and so far me and my friends have seen an improvement in my responsiveness to fast moving objects and questions they will just throw at me. mainly the reason i think this is because playing computerized strategy games makes you think fast about making commands or else, YOU LOSE!!. anyway thats all i have to say.

  • JayTurn says:

    I think this is a great presentation Tim. It is often surprising to hear the negative opinions some people have toward gaming in general. Yet we cannot mistake how influential they can be with learning and social interaction.

    New Zealand recently have implemented a test program using mobile phones for learning in one of their schools –

    They don’t seem to be using gaming but if it is successful, I imagine the use of mobile games would be the next step. There are plenty of iPhone apps currently available that teach kids spelling and math amongst other things. As a learning method, I have seen many kids become disinterested in the standard pen and paper learning but become extremely attentive to similar learning that uses a game of some sort.

  • Dave Mackey says:

    Tim – Agree with you on this wholeheartedly. I know a large portion of my gaming comes from an educational as well as entertainment focus. I generally enjoy strategical and tactical wargames simulating historical time periods – especially as I am reading/learning about these time periods through books/articles. I’ve learned significant geography and historical information through such pursuits – not to mention improving my skills in analytical thought.

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