Posted by: hazelmeda | May 7, 2012

Learning is the name of the game

While parents worry about their children playing video games, most Wits students agree that gaming improves academic performance – but a Wits psychology lecturer says it’s all about balance.

Vuvuzela approached students after a recent Inspired Teachers Conference, in Johannesburg, at which Sizwe Nxumalo, economic science honours, told 300 teachers that playing video games could improve performance. According to The Star, he said gaming increased knowledge and provided a safe space for creative experimentation. 

Ross Lelliot, masters in video animation, said the computer games he played as a child helped him develop his maths, English and typing skills. Hanli Geyser, a game design lecturer, said games like Bubble Breaker and even shooting games developed learning skills.

“This is because of the way games work as a construct. For a game to be interesting to people, it’s got to be challenging at all times.”

She said the fun in a game came from the feeling of achievement in “beating the game” and getting a high score. “What does all this have to do with education? It instils a culture of learning … and a need to process and implement.”

Tanyani Daku, 3rd year BA, said gaming improved hand-eye coordination, while Shanice Lewis, 1st year BA, said games taught the brain to work fast, since one had to respond quickly.

Geyser also said games like Bubble Breaker taught pattern recognition, which she identified as an essential skill in the sciences.

On the other hand, registered educational psychologist and Wits lecturer Joseph Seabi said some students spent too much time playing video games, when they could be preparing for tests and lectures.

Germanio Tjilunda, 1st year commerce, agreed with Seabi. “Seriously, I’ll be honest: video games don’t make you a better student. It takes all your focus … You spend four or five hours, and by the time you want to get to your work, it’s too late.”

 Lelliot urged students to manage their gaming habit. “You have to definitely have control over it. Don’t let it have control over you.”


Related links

Serious games” gain popularity as learning tools in American university classrooms.

Video games gain legitimacy as learning tools.

Games may not hinder learning as previously thought.

An academic paper on games, learning and literacy


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