Common Objections and Misconceptions


Return to Educational Gaming

Return to Unit 1: Introduction to Educational Gaming

Unit 2 Objectives

At the end of the unit, learners will be able to:

- Evaluate common objections to using games in educational settings

- Refute objections using facts and examples


Take a few minutes to reflect on the common objections you hear about video games. Who makes these objections? Are they adults who grew up without the use of any technology? Are they teachers? Are they parents? Do you agree with these objections? Why or why not?

Objections and Misconceptions

1) The problem of content

Many adults can often be heard saying things along the lines of "While it may be good for his hand-eye coordination, it's a waste of time, because there isn't any content he's learning." Many adults believe that if something is entertaining nothing is being learned from it. This simply is not true. Many games are being developed that are directly related to content that is learned in schools. In the game Cradle of Rome [1] players build the ancient city of Rome. In each level the complete they reconstruct Roman masterpieces such as the Coliseum and the Pantheon. In Timez Attack [2] players use their multiplication skills to attack and defeat their opponents in a real video game setup. There are many games like these that have direct content relation; you need to know where to find them.

2) Violent video games cause children to be violent

This is a theory that has been continuously broadcast through the media and through some politicians. Anahad O'Connor from the NY Times has this to say, "Studies generally show that violent video games can have short-term or momentary effects on children, but there is little evidence of long-term changes." There are studies that show that playing violent video games can have adverse effects on children but playing non-electronic contact sports such as rugby and football could have the same effects. There are few newsmedia screaming to get rid of those. One would expect that a child who does nothing but watch violent movies or play violent games all day every day would act in a violent manner. The point is that no one, child or adult, should be spending all their time on one activity. Counter-balancing activities should be taking place.

Most children know the difference between life and fantasy/games. They know that the violence in their games is not real and would tell you that the violence in games is not something they should or would consider doing in real life. Video games can actually be a way that children can get their agression out without actually being agressive or violent. Video games are a way of expressing their emotions without taking them out into real actions.

Many reject the following, but the facts remain. Violent crime in the US has gone down dramatically during the same period that game playing dramatically increased. The overwhelming majority of normal kids who see some violent movies and play some violent games, but receive the usual, societal counter-messages, do not and will not act violently in public or in private (Prensky, 2006).

3) Video games are addictive

Remember, playing video games 'a lot' is not an addiction any more than reading 'a lot' is. No one can feasibly say what effect complex factors will have a child's life, but the key to having a balanced child is to have balance in the child's life. They should not be spending all their time playing video games just like they should not be spending all their time watching tv or doing homework. Children should lead balanced lives. There should be limits not bans. Therefore it is an important role of parents and educators to be involved in the lives of children and students. Know what they are doing and what games they are playing. Make sure that they have balance in their lives.

The Naysayers

There are many people who have negative things to say about video games. The majority of these people are those who grew up in a different generation where the idea of 'games' was a trivial form of entertainment. Gaming has come a long long way since the time of card games and simple board games whose purpose was nothing more than passing time on a rainy day.

Reporters and news anchors also hold a significant role in the pessimistic views of video games. They lead the way with headlines designed to scare; saying things such as "Games Gone Wild" or "Computer Games Stunt Teenagers' Brains." Just remember, they are paid to sell their stories and they usually only present one side of the story.

Another significant number of naysayers are politicians; again many of whom have never and will never play a video game in their life. Games are an easy target for politicians looking for the easy vote. They use inflammatory phrases such as "killing simulators" to scare, not inform, parents. Politicians blame the manufacturing and retail companies for the games rather than looking at other influences in the lives of children.

Unit 2 Activity

Use the additional references located at the end of the units to research other objections you may have heard about video games. What evidence can you find to support the objection? What evidence refutes it? What would you say to people who object to gaming without having actually tried it?

Go to Unit 3: Using Games in Your Classroom

Go to Educational Gaming Resources