Today, our Educator and Assistant Curriculum Team Lead, Hovan Tan, will be sharing with us his insights and personal experiences with video games. He’ll also talk about understanding your child’s games, what you should be wary of and how video games are stepping stones to success for your child. Let’s hear from Teacher Hovan! 👇
Video Games. Many of us love and enjoy playing them as a hobby (even as adults), though by default, we try to have our kids spend less time on them despite their pleas to play on. Well, for as long as I can remember, I have always loved and enjoyed playing video games. My father (like all typical dads), felt that video games would distract me and result in poor grades – but this did not deter me from playing and still achieving at school.
Being an avid gamer taught me many skills and lessons. It was the spark that spurred me to take up Computer Engineering at University, and I now get to experience and inspire the joy of coding when I teach my students the code behind some of the games they play, such as Minecraft, Brawl Stars and Zooba.
Indeed, I learned a lot from playing Video Games. Let’s start by taking a look at some of the popular categories of games:
1. Types of Video Games (and what we can learn from them)
- Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games: League of Legends, Dota2, Mobile Legends, and Pokemon Unite, are examples of strategy role-playing games where two teams compete against each other.
- First-Person Shooter (FPS) games: Typically use weapons and feature a first-person perspective. Examples include Call of Duty, Valorant, Counter-Strike, and Fortnite.
- Strategy games: Include Age of Empires, the Total War series, Civilization, and any simulation games even on mobile.
There are many more types of video games out there, but the skills and benefits of each type will differ. MOBA and FPS games challenge the player’s situational awareness (where positions matter a lot), reaction speed to visual and auditory cues, and requires accuracy and multitasking. It also trains one’s visuomotor control and attention skills, so players of such games are more mindful of their surroundings, adaptable and great problem-solvers. When it comes to academia, students will be better equipped to face tougher problems and figure out solutions in stressful scenarios.
One example of an MOBA game is Pokemon Unite 👉
Strategy games allow players to work on their critical thinking skills, as they manage teams, units or buildings. This can easily be viewed as a leadership role, where the players delegate and plan for the best outcomes.
Children will be able to improve their decision-making thought processes and learn to become better leaders in the future, with management experience under their belt. They will also be able to multitask effectively, which is a good skill as they juggle different curriculum in school and different challenges in their daily lives.
There are so many other skills and lessons that your children can learn from playing video games. We’ve also picked out the main lessons from gaming in a previous blog here.
Video games also provide you with opportunities to bond and interact with your children. This will help you to identify learning points in their gaming experiences, such as how to interact with other online users or how to win humbly and lose graciously. You could also get ideas for alternative activities that could interest them!
2. What dangers are present in online games?
That being said, we must tread the online domain with great care, especially when it comes to protecting our littles.
With the internet and online games today, one can easily communicate with almost anyone in the world from anywhere and at any time, opening up a world of possibilities and dangers too. For example, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) have large communities and social interactions within the game. Having the ability to find people from around the world and chat with them allows friendships to be born and gives players a sense of belonging.
At the same time, we have to be concerned about safety, cyberbullying, security and privacy threats from online predators. For example, Roblox, one of the most popular children’s games in the world right now, is struggling to moderate content and create parental controls to protect children from being maliciously exposed to inappropriate content.
Online fraud and scams are rampant in our technological world too, and there is also the allure of freemium and gambling games. These instant gratification games are addictive and younger children may not understand the nature of these purchases.
To keep up with this ever-changing fast-paced online world, we will have to learn how to protect ourselves and our loved ones from online dangers.
3. How can you keep your children safe and protected as they play video games?
Video games can provide you with opportunities to bond and interact with your children. This will help you to identify learning points in their gaming experiences, such as how to interact with other online users or how to win humbly and lose graciously. You could also get ideas for alternative activities that could interest them!
I highly recommend for you to do research into the games, and check on their available parental controls before allowing your child access to them. (There’s a reason we do not teach Roblox coding here at Coding Lab, despite the multitude of requests that come in!) You must be able to identify potential risks involved and work with your child to educate, learn, and mitigate any online threats (Yes, we approve of Minecraft!).
Here’s a good checklist to use to keep our children safe on the Internet 👇 (Source)
Video Games – A Stepping Stones to Success?
As gamers, we should take the effort to understand how games are crafted. Behind each game lies a developer, a studio, perhaps even a multi-million dollar company leading the development of that successful game. Through blood, sweat, tears, and lots of time, these games were painstakingly created. This is a lesson by itself that I incorporate into my teaching and instill in the younger generation.
Creative learning utilises our vivid imagination and critical thinking skills to come up with ideas and solutions. This is especially evident in our classes when we have Hackathon sessions – based on the games they love to play, students are able to think about different aspects required for the program they want to create. I’ve had students program mini games ranging from themes like Minecraft to Zooba.
Just like our mini coding hackathons, a tremendous amount of thinking and planning has gone into creating the games we love to play, and I am heartened to see my students incorporate such extensive thinking and hard work when creating their own projects!
In hindsight, being an avid gamer taught me many skills and lessons. It was the spark that spurred me to take up Computer Engineering, and I now get to experience and inspire the joy of gaming when I teach my students to code.
Whether my students decide to do computer science or not in the future, learning to code in itself feels like a game with its own benefits, skills and lessons too. With colourful, drag-and-drop programming blocks like Scratch and MIT App Inventor platforms, the learning experience is now gamified. Each lesson feels like a game for my students and I, and I always think about how my journey with video games has come full circle.
As people’s perceptions of gaming change and our online world grows, playing video games is both a boon and a bane. It is up to us to be there to guide our children and keep them safe when they step into the digital age.
Do your children enjoy playing games? Give our award-winning, MIT-inspired coding classes a shot! Your children will get to dive into the world behind games and technology as they learn computational thinking and more core skills of the 21st century.
(Written by Hovan Tan, Edited by Cheryl Tang)
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