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Can not only digital games teach us something serious? Do games work as a tool of socialization or create a social gap, and what about edutainment?

We’ve all experienced it at least once. You play a game, the door to the room suddenly slams open, and an indignant parent begins to drive you away that after five hours you might be doing something useful, such as going to study. Please do not be surprised to parents and grandparents that they cannot look at the matter through the lens of their descendants, who can no longer imagine a world without multimedia technologies.

For many people today, learning is supremely connected with sitting at a book or at a school desk. It is a stereotype that society has become accustomed to and has adopted as a strict (and only) model for something to be seriously called “learning.”

The problem is that the matter has many other aspects that prove that learning does not necessarily take place at school level, that is, in reading a book, which is mostly just a medium, just like television, radio or a computer.

The game is also a medium, as it mediates some cognitive experience, ie. an experience through which we can know something and learn something. We have a variety of topics that we can call educational, but also fun.

The concept has taken hold of such edutainment, which was first used by The Walt Disney Company in 1948 to launch the entertaining documentary series True Life Adventures. Today, we understand edutainmnet as de facto as we did sixty years ago.

For example, some television stations, such as National Geographic, Discovery, Viasat History, Prima ZOOM, etc., work with it a lot.

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Learning through digital play

Now we look away from television, radio and the press, and we are left with (digital) games as a medium. Many gaming industry experts and critics are very skeptical about the combination of computer gaming and learning, and their arguments are mostly based on several recurring topics.

From those who basically condemn the very existence of the gaming industry and consider it a modern-day Satan, to the claim that virtual violence encourages habitualization, ie numbness, or that some individuals are unable to break away from overly complex titles or incite them to somehow. illegal activities.

I don’t want to downplay this issue, I just think that the hysteria surrounding the undesirable pathological consequences of games is quite exaggerated. Critics and skeptics think well of us as a society, but they often can’t see the sea through a drop of water.

Thanks to them, and partly because of the curiosity of the tabloid media, we look at the people who play mostly with contempt, without trying to find out what it really gave them.

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A study by Richard Van Eck from 2006, which described the concept of learning through digital games (Digital Game-Based Learning, zk. DGBL).

This is several years of empirical research based on three important factors, namely the study of publications, essays and articles by professional authors and the observation of the mainstream in the past few decades.

Furthermore, the involvement of the so-called Net Generation (or Generation Z) was important for the research, which is today’s young generation, which is familiar with the use of multimedia technologies at an early age.

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The third factor that DGBL works with is the growing popularity of computer games. Its main goal is to point out the effectiveness of digital games in the educational process. However, some people are still stigmatized by a bipolar view of this issue, where the game is always in opposition to learning (and therefore to work).

However, the majority of the population increasingly think that games are engaging and can therefore play an important role in education. In addition to efficiency, DGBL also offers comprehensive help on how to integrate games into the educational process to reach maximum potential.

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Meaningful throwing stones

Games are not so effective because of what they are in general, but what they embody, and that is the magic of DGBL. Although empirically proven to affect mainly lower intellectual abilities, they embody proven learning models and principles, eg they are effective in part because teaching takes place in a meaningful context and what can be “learned” depends on the game environment.

Researchers call such a teaching principle as situated cognition (situated cognition) and continue to point out that play is an aspect of primary socialization natural to all human beings, as well as an educational mechanism across all cultures and many animal species.

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For example, lions do not learn hunting through thorough instruction as in school, but through play. The game clearly uses the principle of the game itself as an instructional strategy and a nice example in this case can be the military simulator Arma 3 from the Czech studio Bohemia Interactive or Surgeon Simulator from the English Bossa Games, or Euro Truck Simulator.

In my opinion, the concept of assimilation and accommodation of Jean Piaget, who works with the theory of cognitive imbalances (cognitive disequilibrium).

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It also falls within the DGBL and consists in the fact that we either try to adapt the new information to the already existing internal schemes (assimilation) or we have to modify the existing one, or create a new one (accommodation). Not only digital games embody this process of cognitive imbalance, which largely determines whether they will be engaging.

Edutainment therefore consists mainly in training what Piaget calls cognitive imbalance, and thanks to playing games we can significantly speed up and improve the process of assimilation and accommodation.

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In everyday life, we use this model in a number of common activities from solving daily tasks, assignments at work to creating a personal project, etc. People who play games, and now I do not just think digital, have these two components much better developed than in non-players.

However, they are able to achieve a similar result, but much slower and more difficult. Games teach us to solve tasks step by step.

However, many AAA titles often operate with gaming actions that are (logically) extremely accelerated compared to reality, where, for example, convincing an important character to take action is a matter of a few clicks, while in real life it does not work that way.

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Games that allow players to accelerate procedures in analogy with reality (eg making money, growing vegetables) often cause boredom and a lack of interest in the offline world, especially for the young generation, as it comes too slow.

In the end, it would be appropriate to highlight a few titles that belong to the edutainment, but in general I will recommend one thing only: Play!

And it doesn’t matter if it’s digital or out with friends, because with the game you increase curiosity and learn what really interests you, and then you are able to turn it into tangible values.

What educational games to take a look at?

SimCity, Civilization, Alpha Centauri, Kerbal Space Program, Nancy Drew, Assassin’s Creed, Surgeon Simulator, Car Mechanic Simulator, Euro Truck Simulator, Arma 3, Europa IV Universalis, Take On Mars, Universe Sandbox, Human Resource Machine, Minecraft

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