Back in the eighties and nineties when video games first gained popularity with kids around the world, parents tried in vain to curb their enthusiasm. Games were seen as worthless, mindless entertainment, akin to hours in front of the television, and it was accepted that parents should be doing everything possible to limit kids’ gaming time. Certainly, sending them to a video game camp during the summer was not a priority.
Study after study has revealed, however, that children who play video and computer games have better social skills and greater intellect. That’s good news, and there’s more where that came from.
Commercial Games and STEM
Even if they don’t look like they’re teaching kids anything worth knowing, many of the most popular games are actually great tools for learning STEM.
Older games like Gary’s Mod are designed to allow users to create complicated mechanical and physical scenarios that result in a chain reaction when done correctly, teaching children science, math, and a variety of other skills.
Minecraft, beloved by millions of kids from elementary school up, is another game that teaches all sorts of STEM skills without seeming to. Building houses, creating farms, and even securing your home in the game are all complex problems that build problem-solving skills, engineering and more.
Kids who take things further and use skin builders to create unique characters are actually learning the basics of coding, which is an essential skill in our modern world.
There are many commercial games out there that aren’t specifically created to teach STEM that actually do, and with a little investigating, you can find games or a video game camp that will teach your kids valuable skills without seeming like teaching at all!
While you can definitely find great games that educate and entertain among main stream options, there are also many options in educational games too. A simple internet search will show you endless options for every age group and ability. Many seem like puzzles or quests rather than “book learning” but they are all great tools to teach even the most reluctant STEM student.
Building a Future
Most children eventually outgrow video games, and will hopefully go on to careers in engineering, teaching or medicine. Some will continue to play games for recreation and fun. But others will become so enamored with the world inside the screen that they will become game developers.
This is an exciting branch of STEM itself, and one that can be a great career choice.
Occupations in this field include graphic design, game design, programming and more. Game companies have project managers, engineers, and all sorts of other STEM related positions on offer. In fact, gaming is such a legitimate career field these days, top colleges like Harvard are offering courses in game design and related fields now too. So, don’t worry. This is certainly a genuine career, and one that is only likely to grow in coming years and decades.
In case you’re still worried about your child’s interest in gaming, don’t be. After all, PewDiePie is making millions playing games on YouTube, and people like Gabe Newell of Valve Corporation are multi billionaires. All thanks to the lowly computer game.