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Michelle's corner

Michelle Knight. Writer, photographer, programmer, truck driver and general, all round nut case. Life is a journey and that's what this blog will probably end up being. Let's see where we go, eh? ;-)

Review - The Game Believes In You - 5 out of 5 stars

The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter - Greg Toppo

Where do I begin? This book took me some time to read because.. well... life. But I'm a gamer, and I was determined to make it through this one, and I'm glad that I did. You don't have to be a computer gamer to be able to read this book. It's very accessible and covers non-computer gaming as well, because it discusses the whole learning and creative process.


In many respects there are a number of conflicting elements. One is that people learn better when at a machine (and machines were being used to teach before computers as we know them) because a machine goes at the pace of the student; whereas learning in a class everyone goes at the same pace (some get bored while others drop behind) but the class teaching is social whereas the game teaching is not social.... except in the cases where it is.... and in game world there isn't the restriction of who's wearing the latest branded trainers... but in the real world, talking with a child about what they're seeing on screen can deepen learning and having real consequences to actions can make things more thrilling and engaging...


You see... this can be sliced and diced so many ways, and I've read a good chunk of wisdom about learning... or more appropriately HOW we learn... in this book.


If you're interested in children and learning then I believe that this book is well worth reading, even if you're not a gamer. As well as discussing the learning and exploratory process, it has a section that deals with the long argued issue of violence and games as well as the topic of addiction, and it offers some sensible viewpoints that I believe are very much worth considering.


For parents, there is definitely a strong message to get involved with your child's game play and discuss it.


What most adults fail to realise, he said, is that as safe as they are, kids today are dealing with anxieties that previous generations didn't. 'We're exposed to things going on all over the world,' Schleifer said, 'A hundred years ago, children were only exposed to what was on the block, what was around the corner. Maybe something bad would happen in the neighbourhood, but if it wasn't in the neighbourhood, then nothing happened.' Now, he said, they've got access to news of the world, to bad things happening everywhere. 'How does a child get their head around something like a tsunami? How would you deal with that? For adults there's no way to deal with it.'


There's no getting away from the fact that playing games affects the mind and can actually be more effective than medications.


"So for the past few years, a small group of psychiatrists, researchers, educators and game designers have run a quiet but intense footrace to become the first to earn FDA approval for a medically sound, prescription-strength video game for ADHD. That's not a metaphor. They are seeking approval for a game that a doctor can actually prescribe.
The problem with drugs like Ritalin or Adderall , researchers say, isn't just that they have side effects. It's that they're almost entirely hit or miss. They activate 'your entire brain, in a very blunt way,' said Dr. Adam Gazzaley, a psychiatrist and founding director of the Neuroscience Imaging Centre and the University of California, San Francisco."
"Gazzaley began wondering if he could develop a game to enhance this switching in older adults. At the time, a few of his friends were working for the game developer LucasArts, so he asked if they'd be interested in helping him out. They said they'd be delighted. 'Their perspective was that they'd been teaching teenagers how to kill aliens for fifteen years now - most of their professional life - and they were looking forward to the opportunity to work on games that might have a different kind of impact.' "


I learned so much from this book, that it gave me some new perspectives on learning and game processes. Some might find that this book needs to be read in multiple sittings, but in my humble opinion, it is well worth it.