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5 Ways to Use Video Games for Learning at Home

Updated: Sep 26, 2022



After a long day at school, many kids just want to get home, grab a snack, and position themselves in front of their favourite video game. As a parent, you may not be overjoyed with this and feel like video games are taking precedence over other things in your household (like say, homework). However, did you know that video games can actually be an excellent learning opportunity for your child and that the educational concepts they learn can transfer into real-world knowledge? Using video games for learning is not a new concept, but there are always new and innovative ways to use the technology for learning purposes. So, today let’s look at 5 ways to use video games for learning at home so your child can enjoy the learning process and get the most out of what these games have to offer.


Teaching English – Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (3DS)


The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was originally released in 1998 and has since evolved into one of the classic games of the franchise with several rereleases, including the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (3DS). It was not only a smashing success at the box office, but the game has become an engaging way to teach students more about honing their communication skills and using their English language skills to navigate the storyline. The Zelda franchise is interesting in that all in-game dialogue is told through text. [1] Players can essentially experience this narrative-heavy game at their own pace since there are very minimal quick time reactions within the game, and the player controls when they hit ‘next’ to keep reading the text. Not only does it help improve the player’s reading skills, but it can also teach critical communication skills such as active listening. Within the game, you have a companion named Navi who helps you ‘navigate’ the game and acts as a guide; however, if you don’t listen carefully, you may miss something important and get lost. [2]


Exploring Social Studies – Never Alone


Never Alone is a video game that retells the traditional Iñupiat Alaskan Tale “Kunuuksaayuka” while also showcasing the rich heritage and culture of the Iñupiat Native Alaskan people. You get to explore all the different elements of their culture through gameplay that is both interactive and engaging to the players. This is often the struggle with social studies – taking these concepts and presenting them in an interesting, relatable, and understandable way. Yet, through exceptional storytelling, Never Alone accomplishes each of these points exceptionally. Throughout the game, you learn all about the Iñupiat Alaskan culture, from how they hunt to the drums they use for their music making to the importance of the environment and their community. [3] A game such as Never Alone will not only allow players to learn more about this specific society but will also help them be more open-minded when learning about other foreign cultures in their social studies classes.


Experimenting with Science – Minecraft


Minecraft is known for being an open sandbox game where the only limit is the player’s imagination. But have you ever thought about using it for experimenting with science? With specific mods such as Polycraft World, now you can! Polycraft World is a comprehensive mod that lets you create things using concepts from chemistry and engineering. For example, you can learn about petrochemical refining, harvesting new ore types, or even try your hand at constructing polymers, plastics, and other specialty items. [4] Adding this mod to your Minecraft not only keeps it entertaining but also means that it won’t be as easy or straightforward as it might be in regular Minecraft, thereby challenging the player to find innovative solutions to new challenges they face.


Understanding History – Dungeons and Dragons (DnD)


Although it’s not a video game, DnD has been a widely popular role-playing game (RPG) ever since its debut in 1974. It’s extremely engaging and fun to play, but did you know it can also help you with understanding history? Within the game, you can set up campaigns that reinforce learning material by finding a fantasy analog to real-world topics – for example, world history can become Game of Thrones-style fantasy lore. [5] For this reason, some teachers and tutors even find ways to integrate the RPG into the classroom or other learning environments for their students. Like the best games, DnD helps to stimulate the player’s emotional and intellectual engagement, making it easier to understand and integrate the historical knowledge they’re learning. [6]


French Immersion – Ori and the Blind Forest


Ori and the Blind Forest is a 2D platform game that emphasizes exploration, collection, and progression. However, it’s also an excellent way for students in French immersion to get a little extra practice working through the puzzles and problems en Français. To do this, you’ll simply need to go into the game settings and switch the language to French. This tactic would be considered immersion-based learning, and interestingly, students naturally learn faster and comprehend more when they are forced to use the information in real-world situations – even if it’s a fake one created by playing a video game in French. [7] One thing to note, however, is that without a firm foundation in grammar and vocabulary provided by conventional learning programs, you will be unable to learn French through video games alone. [8]


Final Thoughts


Video games can be a fun and engaging way to explore fresh concepts and integrate new information into your existing knowledge patterns. That’s why at Knowledge Bump, we love to use games in our programs so our students can reap all the benefits that gameplay offers in an educational context with the added benefit of additional tutor support. Many of the games we’ve explored here can also be paired with other subjects or learning strategies, so we always recommend getting creative when using video games for learning! And remember, if there’s a certain area that you’re struggling with academically, our tutors are always ready to help. We use innovative methods, including your favourite games, within your customized tutoring program to help put the fun back in functional learning!



References


1-2. Hartzman, Zachary. “What I Learned from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.” Hey Listen Games, January 2020, https://www.heylistengames.org/post/what-i-learned-from-the-legend-of-zelda-ocarina-of-time.


3. Hartzman, Zachary. “New Lesson on Never Alone Now Available.” Hey Listen Games, June 2019, https://www.heylistengames.org/post/new-lesson-on-never-alone-now-available.


4. “Explore Polycraft World – A Minecraft Mod from UT Dallas.” Polycraft World, 2015,

https://www.polycraftworld.com/.


5-6. Gaudette, Emily. “When the Teacher is the Dungeon Master.” The Elective, February 2020, https://elective.collegeboard.org/when-teacher-dungeon-master.


7-8. “3 Reasons Why Playing Games Helps You Learn French Faster.” French Pod 101, August 2016, https://www.frenchpod101.com/blog/2016/08/09/3-reasons-why-playing-games-helps-you-learn-french-faster/#:~:text=Research%20studies%20have%20concluded

%20that,learn%20French%20with%20games%20alone.

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