After interviewing Jake for my fourth post, I was really interested to find out more about whether or not students actually enjoyed educational video games. Every article I found that described the types of educational games kids would enjoy featured games that were more or less disguised. Yes, they were educational, but they didn’t come right out and say “hey come play me so you can learn something!” This fit almost exactly with what Jake said about not wanting to play strictly educational games. Kids are much more likely to play and enjoy these games if they are fun and not overtly learning games.
I was also interested to see the type of demographic that plays the most video games. According to the Entertainment Software Association, over 155 million Americans play video games, 4 out of 5 houses have a video game device, and 42% of Americans play video games regularly. That’s a TON of people! However, I was more interested in student populations that my project is more focused on. According to the same study, 26% of regular game players are under 18 years old. This is the key population my project will be focusing on so its really important to know that over 1/4 of gamers are students who could benefit from educational video games (well everyone can benefit… but that’s for a different project).
Finally, I wanted to research how parents feel about their children playing video games. The ESA says the 63% of parents believe video games are a positive part of their child’s life. Obviously this is really important to my project because parents are a huge factor on whether or not a child will, or is allowed to, play a video game. A lot of parents even said that they enjoy playing video games with their children or as a whole family.
In order to get a better understanding of my genius hour topic, I decided to interview University of Georgia student Jake Jensen,22, about his experience with educational video games. He said that while he had never used a video game or app to learn something specific, there were a lot that he played that helped him with general cognitive development or practice skills he already had. He referenced an iPhone game he enjoyed called “Okay?”, pictured below. The game is played by bouncing a ball off of shapes in order to make the disappear. He said that while he already knew the physics concepts employed in this game, he liked playing it to practice his skills and progress through the different levels of increasing difficulty.
Screenshot of the game “Okay?”
I asked him if he remembered any games growing up that helped him learn in school. He didn’t recall any, and said he enjoyed sports video games more than puzzle or educational games. However, he did remember playing the game Lemonade Stand (part of coolmathgames.com). In this game, you are given a small start up allowance and try to make as much money as you can in 30 days. You must buy ingredients and products then try to sell your lemonade. He said he didn’t play it to specifically learn anything, but he could see how it would help his math and time management skills.
Finally, I asked him if he would be more or less willing to play a video game or app if he it was educational. He said that as a kid, he would probably not want to play a video game if he knew it was supposed to be teaching him something. He also said, however, that if it was fun enough and wan’t obviously educational, he would probably still be interested. He said in high school and college he would definitely be willing to use video games to help him brush up on or practice old or new concepts. “If you’re going to need to know this stuff anyways, you may as well learn and practice it in a fun way,” he stated.