Video games are going beyond entertainment.
They also have the power of improving the process of learning.

Around the 1980s, engineers, teachers, and designers created the first games for education. They were known as Edutainment Games, combining education and entertainment in the same product. Nowadays, game design academics don’t like this term because it conveys only two concepts of education and entertainment. There are papers, essays, and other academic documentations to explain why a game can go beyond entertainment and education, and even have a social impact.

Since my time in college, I was excited about the idea of subconscious learning which, to me, makes the learning process less boring and more effective.At the time, I had an assignment by which I had to help kids to understand how a radio station works. My team and I thought that a fun story would be more helpful than preparing a full lesson. The result was astounding in a way that the kids not only got more information, but they also enjoyed the lesson much more than the traditional lesson planning. That was a turning point for me which inspired me to apply this style to my future projects.

To elaborate more on this, you can ask a kid how to play Final Fantasy, for example. This child will ask you which Final Fantasy game from the saga you want to play. He or she also can tell you all the story details behind this imaginary world and its characters. If you ask this kid about the Civil War, or about the first president of the United States, maybe he or she can’t answer the question with all the details. This proves the power of video games that can go beyond pleasure and be a teaching tool at the same time. Today, there are numerous game classifications such as games for social impact, physical and mental health, training, and education: STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics).

Having learned about the significant impact that video gaming can have on the learning process at schools and how kids can benefit from these entertaining tools, I took the chance to dig more into this relatively new academic area. At American University GameLab, I got focused on education through playing. That put me in the direction of one big social problem among children, bullying.  

I started to do some research by contacting an organization in Colombia with vast information about scholarly aggression and conflict resolution. With their help, I interviewed teachers talking about  some cases of bullying that gave me the foundation to create the mechanics of a game to address this issue and promote the feeling of empathy. 

I also designed another educational game to teach kids a second language. The idea came up after I got my Master’s and had the opportunity to audit the course called “ learning language playing video games” in American University. During the class, I learned about research that applied the Task Based Learning method to games and other interactive tools. Through the assigned homework, I acquired the basic elements to work with. I finished the course with the essential concept to build my game. 

In short, my goal of making video games is clearly to provide the users with a fun and teachable experience. To achieve this goal, I made simple game mechanics where  players can easily play and learn something useful, not just to waste and kill their time.

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