Video Games: Applications to Other Pursuits

Hema Bharadwaj, from her blog in September, 2010:

About violent games

Some one or the other is always writing about the media, video games, violence therein etc.. I'd like to share a take on this topic that I really like:
Also here: /game/talesand choices are here: /game/online And as I re-read today these pages I discovered this page link: /game/benefits

I can't begin to say everything I feel about video games... from my beginning ambivalence/ aversion/ annoyance/ fear/ more fear, etc.. all the way to today's complete acceptance of my child's love and devotion to figuring out a game, his determination, his focus, his interest, his ability to explain it, talk about it passionately, willingness to give Ravi and me tutorials/workshops on a game etc.. He is currently playing a game that is about a guy in school. And the classes need you to figure out games/words/math etc. Then you pass the game. I help him out with certain parts when he asks for it. Been very interesting to watch his intensity in figuring out those puzzles/tests that the school teachers are throwing out to this character. The character gets bullied and keeps getting detention. And Raghu is wondering why this is so. Lead to conversations about the way the video gamer designed the game.

There is a cd we have with Jerry Seinfeld stand-up shows on it. We listen to it often while driving around the maniacal roads of India.... puts up in a good mood :-) So in one of the clips he says "When men are growing up, reading about Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, these aren't just kid fantasies. These are career options." That one really cracks me up... cause both Raghu and Ravi nod their heads whenever they listen to him say it :-)

the original is here

from Sandra, September 17, 2010:

The day after I added Hema's writing (above) I was reading Louis Gossett Jr.'s autobiography, An Actor and a Gentleman. He wrote, of his childhood: "During those days, I was living a Walter Mitty fantasy life, dreaming that I could be the Green Hornet or Captain Marvel or anyone I wanted."

a little more about that
Kelli Traaseth responds to a couple of commments:
"My kids aren't the type to really pursue an interest (other than video games) on their own."

Don't let them do it on their own, join in. Talk with them about their video games, try and see why they like it so much. There is so much in those games, its not a wonder that they are so intriguing. Keeps your mind working all the time and us humans do like that. ;) You might even enjoy playing too! I do.

"I think there are some things learned through gaming, but there has got to be more than that."

My kids do ALOT of gaming, from online multi playing games, computer games, game console games, hand helds to board games and card games.

The thing is, is that gaming is so much, it has so much in it and it can lead to so much more too.

I could list all the things that my kids have learned from those games, but sometimes I think people also miss the point when I do that. The point of understanding unschooling. You have to see that a person will learn what that person needs to learn. And as a parent to an unschooler we have to be ok with what our children want to do. Once you can be ok with that a whole new world will open for you.

Back to my first comment, "don't let them do it on their own" this is where the gaming can just go and go and go.

Help them to see more about what they like in the game. One example of my son going on a tangent with gaming is his playing Final Fantasy XI. Final Fantasy XI is a MMORP (massively multiplayer online role playing) game. He played that game for months, and tons of challenges and fun in it. One of his tangents was learning about Samurais. He had to level a character to a high level and then he could unlock Samurai. He loved it. I thought maybe he'd like to learn more about samurais so we borrowed The Last Samurai, he loved it. Watched it two or three times, watched all the extras.

We then got the mini series Shogun. I thought he might like it. He wasn't sure at first because he didn't like the way it looked. It looked "old" to him. It is dated, but we gave it a try. After the first segment he was hooked as was I, trying to remember it from my childhood . We got them all from Netflix. It was great.

He also was online quite a bit looking up things about them—he especially likes armor and weaponry.

Now, zoom ahead to this past Christmas, six months later, and we're having a dinner with my in-laws and a neighbor (who is an English professor). We're all talking and find out that our neighbor spent a few years in Japan researching their history. Cool,,, my son starts asking him about samurai, we start talking about the movie and tv show.

My neighbor can't believe how much he knows about Japan and these ancient warriors.

All from gaming,,,, well and all that it leads to...

My kids are living such a happy life and the learning is sooo happening. The math happens, the reading happens, it really DOES happen.

Kelli Traaseth = gaming mom

AND ANOTHER THING... (Kelli continued in another post)
**What exactly do your kids do? Any kids learning Algebra simply because they want to? Foreign Language?**** I also wanted to quick comment on this. This will be shorter, promise!

As far as Algebra, why do people worry about Algebra? I've never used my algebra since leaving school. I guess i've figured out things I need when I need them—kind of algebra, figuring out X. But my kids do that all the time and they've never been taught it. I wouldn't worry about that.

But as for foreign language, my daughter loves languages. She's wanted to learn different ones for years and she's only 11. We've drawn Chinese characters, Japanese, read Spanish, French, Norwegian, and elvish. Now, we aren't fluent in any of those,, yet. But I know if she wants to, it will happen.

Her language interests also get nurtured within gaming, ah huh! In our new game we're playing, WOW, (world of warcraft) there are different races with different languages. :D So, she now is trying to decypher those different languages that she can't speak. We are currently trying to find an ad-on so we can communicate with the different races and just last night she went through our alphabet to me (on another computer) in a different language to see how the whole thing corresponded with English. I never thought of doing that.


I asked on the Always Unschooled list some weeks ago for advice about helping my 4 y.o., who was interested in video games but not skilled, get skilled. We ended up buying a Game Cube in the post-Christmas glut of old video game systems on eBay. Eric's skill with the controller improved immensely in one morning with his Daddy and a kid- appropriate game. Now he's really into Animal Crossing and plays several sessions a day. I think it's great because:

He's wanting to be a homebody lately and this is one more option for the days we're spending at home.

He and his dad are having sweet times together. My partner is so patient with Eric when he just wants to wander around digging holes, or go in and out of his house, or try on all his outfits one after another. I need to work on gaining more patience with this kind of stuff myself. But we've all been enjoying our time together playing the game.

See also:

Direct Reports of Computer Game Benefits
Tales of Happy Video Gamers

He is also using the game to gain all kinds of skills, including:
map reading

reading (already he can recognize some of the repetitive words and phrases that show up in the dialogues. We read the rest to him.)


making plans and strategizing (the other day he said to me as I was playing, "If you go over the bridge instead, you can drop the comic book off at Candi's on your way to Doc's," or some such)

finances (he's got a mortgage to pay off on his little house!)

number recognition; dealing with different magnitudes of numbers (in the hundreds and thousands)

The conventions of video games

He has also brought from the game into the real world:
A complex game with his little brother of delivering things to imaginary friends all over the house.

Wanting to write and receive notes (characters in the game write letters to each other)

An interest in going to a real museum like the one in the game.

As far as I can tell, it's all good.

You're not blinded--you've managed to let go of ideas that aren't useful for you. You can see what is right in front of you—that your kids are having a great time and doing great. Good for you.


**Wow--I'd heard it made for better sharpshooters in the military—but surgeons, of course! **

On some Discovery channel thing last year I saw an older Air Force training officer saying that the younger pilots coming in now are many times better than the older pilots at handling modern planes because of the complex attention and reaction skills needed. He attributed it to video games. :)


More on benefits of video gaming, video games, on games in general or on unschooling and games

benefits of video gaming video games games in general unschooling and games