Games are popular among all age groups; they are played in leisure time, in schools, in homes, in the office, on the Internet, in libraries and shopping malls, etc. A game is basically a structured type of play, sometimes undertaken for fun or entertainment, and at other times used as an educational resource. Games are very different from work, which obviously is normally performed for remuneration, and in the case of computer games, which are usually an expression of cultural or aesthetic values. In the classroom, games are used to enhance problem solving skills in students, while games are used to provide an environment where learners can be motivated to learn. In a work environment, games are an excellent opportunity for creative training and development, where they can be combined with other forms of learning such as theory learning, creative learning, interactive learning, problem solving techniques and simulation. These activities can be taken seriously by teachers and educators who want their students to improve their critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills.
In the case of computer games, Chris Crawford, in his acclaimed book Computer Games: Design and Education, offers useful advice about how to create computer games that are engaging, inventive, imaginative and innovative. His detailed descriptions of computer game creation environments help students learn important concepts such as user interface design, graphic design, level design, sound design, script programming, and animation. These concepts can be applied to a wide variety of real world industries, from education and teaching, to advertising, film production, television, video games, and the manufacturing industry. Computer games also have the added advantage of having a wider appeal than most literature, film and television programs, as well as the traditional educational tools. Computer games can be used for recreathing history, as well as solving problems, allowing students to view history in an entirely new way.
Chris Crawford’s detailed descriptions of how to plan and develop computer games will captivate readers as they struggle to solve a series of problems in single games between the two teams at the edge of a cliff. Single games are a great way to introduce students to the basics of basic concepts, while simultaneously developing problem solving skills that will benefit them throughout their academic career. Single games between teams of identical students can provide an excellent opportunity for students to work as part of a group and build critical problem solving skills while gaining a valuable experience in a fun setting.
Chris Crawford uses the example of computer games to illustrate some of the difficulties faced by teachers planning to teach their students the social aspects of culture and society. In one single game, students must work as a visiting team at an exhibit. The teacher wants to ensure that no guest gets “upside down,” meaning that no member of the visiting team deliberately touches another student. Without any type of communication or interaction, no one will ever be able to figure out whether the player intentionally “upsets” another student.
This is just one example of how computer games can help students learn important concepts and improve their social awareness. In reality, teachers use computer games in a more concrete manner. In classrooms around the country, teachers use a variety of teaching tools, including teacher led PowerPoint presentations, CDs or DVDs, whiteboards, individual interactive games, and field trips to interesting places. These tools allow students to explore new interests and create new learning connections that they may not have been able to make otherwise. Computer games are a great way to add visual aids to this curriculum.
Computers are excellent tools for teaching and learning. This includes how they can help you plan lessons, create unique learning experiences, prepare students for school and college, and give students hands on practice for long hours. Chris Crawford’s “The Teacher’s Guide to Computer Games” provides educators with a clear and concise guide for teaching students how to develop all types of computer games. Computer games are a great addition to any classroom and will bring lasting benefits to students.