When one thinks of online games, images come to mind of adolescents hunkered behind their computers for hours on end, neglecting homework and other responsibilities for the mindless thrill of warfare or fantasy games.
In reality, however, the potential applications of these games are vast and quickly expanding.
Cutting-edge game developers are finding new educational applications to games and revolutionizing the way people learn.
In hindsight, the intersection between computer games and education was natural. Young people are forced to go to school, and young people naturally take an interest in online games.
Therefore, in order to make the learning experience more enjoyable, new games have cropped up to make the learning process more fun.
These games can inject a sense of fun into classes and help students overcome learning abilities.
Such games have proved particularly useful in the field of English as a Second Language (ESL), and online games are gradually replacing ESL worksheets and textbooks.
For example, whereas learning ESL (English as a Second Language) used to mean students would slowly turn the pages of their dusty textbooks as a teacher slowly explained to them the conjugation of verbs, students can now log on to a website and practice conjugating verbs using an online memory game, for example.
Similarly, a simple matching game can help students learn new ESL phrasal verbs, which they can then begin incorporating into their vocabulary.
By using cartoon characters and lively graphics, young learners are drawn to these games, and before they know it, their English skills will have improved dramatically.
Entire online curricula have been created for teaching ESL, as well as math, science, and other subjects, and although it is unlikely that these will completely replace teachers or traditional classrooms, it is certainly true that these games are changing the educational landscape.
What’s more, these changes are occurring on an international scale. When game developers make educational games for learning English, these games can be accessed by learners from China to Uganda to Honduras to Russia.
Much in the same way that globalization and the internet created a more unified world culture, online learning games are creating a more monolithic learning environment.
This is very important and very useful for students of English who are hoping to become a true citizen of the world.
In short, the potential applications of video games are expanding rapidly, and online games are now more than simply mindless diversions. They can be used to teach skills, to overcome learning disabilities, and even to learn a new language!