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The Role of Video Games in the English Classroom | Edutopia

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In any classroom, a video game can provide a sure-footed entry point into content. Interested in teaching tone? The video game Limbo makes toys to perfection with this classic literary tool, using a subdued color palette, minimal character dialogue and macabre settings as a boy works his way through digital, black-and-white badlands. Contrast it quickly with a 60-second video of Little Big Planet 2, and tone will be on full display. From here you can move on to speeches from Martin Luther King, where tone is overt, then short stories from Wendell Berry and Franz Kafka, where it may not be.

2) Student Voice

Video games are engaging, gamified, full of light and sound, and often (though not always) widely accessible. The fact that they're especially inviting to male learners, who may struggle to find much of anything in academia immediately inviting, makes them a compelling tool for any progressive ELA educator. They also provide students a voice. Allowing a student to discuss video games that are meaningful to him is just like asking your bookworm students to discuss their favorite books. Watch them light up when you not only show interest, but allow them to brainstorm games that may "fit" an assignment or project, or to even bring in narrative nuggets of games like Fallout 3, which has plots and subplots that rival -- at least in quantity -- the most heralded classic literary texts.

3) Inspiration

Video games are strangely inspirational. The best examples from this growing medium are not play-and-forget affairs, but rather digital universes for players to enter and dwell. Games like Bethesda's Skyrim can enamor players for hundreds of hours, as they carefully construct avatars that act out their own desire for power, control, and diverse ability to construct and manipulate an environment that makes sense to them (something Minecraft does exceptionally well).

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