What not to get for the Holidays
It is a no brainer that its easier to learn when you are having fun. The recent trend in education is to make it more game-like, sometimes referred to as gamifying it. Yet, not every game available contributes to learning, as described in this CNBC article.
To distinguish if a game you are playing is not educational, look for:
Visual / Audio components that dominate the gaming activity: too much adrenaline
Rapid gunfire and explosions, mountains of corpses, and other displays of graphic violence synced to the aggressive, raging beat You knew this already - raw consumption of blood and gore does not create a good learning environment.
For optimal learning to happen, you need the right balance of excitement: enough to keep you awake, but not enough to over stimulate your senses.
Interactions that solely train reflexes
Many games teach you to think fast, but if your button mashing bypasses the frontal lobe, accumulating knowledge is hard. Educational games make thinking a requirement if youre not actively thinking, you dont succeed.
Simple, inflexible storylines based on memorization
You have to kill the boss. And you have to remember the way 23 different spells work on 12 different enemy types. It is almost like you are a computer with a microprocessor for the brain.
Smart teachers adapt their teaching to your level of skill and pace, while also engaging your creativity. Smart educational games do that too.
Training that does not apply to the real world
Hours upon hours spent navigating virtual mazes teach you to be a really good mouse, but you are a human. Even if the story involves meeting aliens in a parallel dimension, true educational games are grounded in reality. They link the concepts learned in games to tangible, real-world applications.
When you stop playing games like this, and return to the real world, you have gained knowledge that sets you apart and helps you become a better person.
In the end, becoming a better person is what true educational games are all about.