UNDERSTANDING WHY VIDEO GAMES AND EDUCATION ARE COMPLEMENTARY TO EACH OTHER 3/3

Getting our children’s attention, sending them a message, helping them progress and learn... all of them are noble causes! Ah, but did you think we were talking about school? No, we were actually talking about video games! Both have been seen as so opposed to each other, to the point that, most of the time, they are pitted against each other, that it’s still a surprise to be able to say that video games and education can be actually be complementary. 

Surprisingly, and almost certainly bolstered by the wave of paranoia about new technology, these two spheres, rather than recognizing each other as siblings that could have grown up alongside each other, continued to drift apart, secretly jealous of one another... But couldn’t video games become a part of the educational system, once the latter realizes it has so much to gain from them? Wouldn’t video games provide a powerful tool for channelling and holding the attention of children who often have trouble concentrating in class? What are video games if not one of the best ways to apply the current educational approach of active learning? Trying to make content more fun is the logical next step in this approach.  

Let’s stop pitting both of these against each other and stigmatizing them for their respective shortcomings! Instead, let’s try to focus on the ways they can be complementary to each other, to understand how these two worlds can come together, learn from each other and ultimately combine for the greatest benefit of our children. With PowerZ, we firmly believe that gaming and education are mutually reinforce one another. Find out how through this 3-part dossier. 

The real world or how to compensate for our relationship with screens

They are complementary because video games still cannot – no matter how much the developer cares or how determined they are – make our children get away from the game and share their experiences in the real world, even though the values of togetherness are upheld (and this failure is obviously regrettable). Video games therefore have everything to gain from using a solution that connects them to reality, outside the game itself. One of the greatest strengths of schools is that this is something children have to do every day. It might seem trivial but it is actually far from it. Gaming has its MMOs or Massively Multiplayer Online games, and school enables tens, hundreds, thousands of children to connect with each other every day. And offline. Unbelievable, right?

Lauriane and the chimera ready to make all the craziest notions come true.

Lauriane and the chimera ready to make all the craziest notions come true.

PowerZ wants to work alongside schools, museums, theatres, cinemas and all places of culture and activity that help our children (...) connect with the real world.”

PowerZ does not want video games to become an end in themselves. Yes, paradoxically, we want to work alongside schools, museums, theatres, cinemas, and all places of culture, all landscapes and all activities that help our children get their minds off their screens and connect with the world that really counts in our eyes, the real world. How do you make a game that inspires somebody to read a book? How do you cultivate a preference in them for a healthy diet and everyday sports activities? How do you get them to take up a mindful, intelligent stance when confronted by society’s challenges, and develop this through their gaming experience? Games should encourage our children to ask life’s big questions. Its main aim shouldn’t be to become an addictive drug but to operate as a hub between the platform and the world around them. 

Practically speaking, there are multiple solutions available to offset our intensive relationship with our screens (yes, we grown-ups could quite easily include ourselves in the equation). Beginning with educational gaming itself! Can we make the progression and reward system in PowerZ so motivating for our children that we could seamlessly submit content to them outside the game as part of their progress? As part of a quest, suggest that they read a book from the library or bake a chocolate cake for example? You can do anything in a game. But in real life, as you know, children need a link! 

Hence our leading role! As parents, PowerZ must also provide us with the means to support our children more. In addition to their progress, in the PowerZ mobile app, you’ll see advice, supported by cognitive science research and recommendations about play time, and how regular the sessions should be for optimizing hybrid learning.

As teachers, PowerZ needs to offer an interface for monitoring student-players in our classes. How can teachers appropriate PowerZ as an educational game? As you have now realized through this mini series of articles, that’s not our main goal. We are indeed designing a video game, an educational system in its own right, for learning sessions at home. And it’s not meant as a rival but as complementary to learning at school. So, as proven by the fact that we already developed the game alongside teachers, it’s a relevant question! And it should be...   

“A single dream unites us: turning PowerZ into a movement to advance Education.”

In fact, this summer, as parents and teachers, through the Chimera Circle – our community of children – we’ll also be able to sign our children up for giant hackathons! The idea is to get them thinking for a few hours over a 4-week period about major societal issues (about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals) and to come up with their own suggestions for PowerZ! For example, we could ask them to think about world hunger and food waste (SDG no. 2), provide them with courses of action in their daily lives and get them to think in groups, with our help, about what we could add to the game to cover these topics. Sarah, our best chimera trainer, will tell you about it soon… 

So there you have it, this is the note we’ll end on for this mini series about why video games and education are complementary to each other. You can see our whole approach to learning through our first cookbook recipes, in the first edition of the PowerZ booklet that came out on February 15 (add link). We’re already working on a new version so we can show you how we think and our tools which have become more and more concrete as we’ve progressed in an area that is still under-documented and experimental. As we believe that Education is for the good of all, we want to share our insights from this wonderful story that we’re writing together. There still a lot to be done in the communal adventure we’re on together, us parents, kids, teachers and enthusiasts... An Adventure with a capital A. We don’t yet know the right path nor the destination, but we progress, every day, fueled by the dream that unites us: turning PowerZ into a movement to advance Education. Everything will turn out alright as long as we continue to share a couple of our children’s best character traits: imagination and seeing everything with new eyes, so that we continue to believe that, together, everything is possible.