I have always been ambivalent about video games, mostly because I don’t “get” them. I always seem to get “killed” in short order and seldom experience success in terms of progress to subsequent levels, etc.
That said, I do see the value in video games as a participatory form of entertainment and some have the potential to teach transferable skills (flight simulations, strategy games. etc.). Video games also have the potential to coordinate the efforts of a huge number of people to accomplish amazing things. I think all teachers should watch the TED presentation by Jane McGonigal about how gaming can be used to make the world a better place. I think the observation on the virtuoso level of skills attained by many young video gamers is an interesting insight into the high level of skills that many gamers attain at playing video games. The hours of focused rehearsal time many gamers engage in during their free time creates a very high level of gaming skill that could be harnessed to do real work in the world.
A game that has exploded in popularity and provides a surprising array of opportunities to develop creativity and make logical connections is “Mine Craft.” Mine Craft is based on the use of building blocks to create structures and mechanisms in a virtual landscape. The appeal of Mine Craft lies in its simple primary task that can be used to create exceptionally complex designs. Teachers in a wide array of disciplines have discovered ways to use this game to reinforce learning. The article “Three Ways to Use Mine Craft Creatively in the Classroom” focuses on ways to use this game in the elementary classroom to teach mapping, Geometry, and Math principles. There is also a very interesting screen capture “tour” of Destination Amazing which demonstrates the potential of the student projects.