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Video Games and Learning

- February 12, 2016
Do games help students in the classroom?
  • Overview
  • Current Situation
  • Chronology
  • Pro/Con
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Featured Report

From “Candy Crush” to “Call of Duty,” some 150 million Americans play video games, including all but a small fraction of children. The global spread of technology and migration of video games to mobile devices have helped propel the industry to record sales — $61 billion worldwide in 2015. Among the biggest converts to video games are educators, who are using them to teach such subjects as history, geography, science and math and to hone students' critical-thinking abilities. Meanwhile, developers are creating games to improve attention skills in children with ADHD, delay cognitive decline in adults, help recovering stroke victims and improve corporate customer service. But questions remain about video games' effectiveness at enhancing learning and cognition and whether games promote addiction or shorten attention spans. And while half of players are women, critics say gaming culture discourages female participation, a problem that could have ramifications for education as games become more prominent in schools.

Going Mobile

Mobile games could capture one-third of global video game sales by 2018.

Game Changers

A New York charter school has improved student performance using video games.

Policy Challenges

Federal agencies do not require the gaming industry to conduct scientific studies on the effects of their products.

1940s–1960sVideo games, home-gaming console invented.
1970sArcade video games, home-video consoles, educational video games and Apple computers debut.
1980sVideo games blossom after setback.
1990sAction games, violent content, multiplayer and online games become popular.
2000–PresentConcerns about game violence and addiction grow.

Does video gaming have a gender gap?


Rabindra Ratan
Assistant Professor, Department of Media and Information, Michigan State University.


Kishonna Gray
Director, Critical Gaming Lab and Assistant Professor, School of Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University.
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