Book Review: Playing Video Games To Learn

Playing Video Games To Learn:  A Parent’s Guide To Educational Gaming For Kids, by Dr. Jan Kopia

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Reedsy Discovery for the purposes of review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Since my own childhood I have been playing video games fairly avidly and the same is true of many people I know both young as well as middle aged.  The subject of video games as it relates to children (and adults) is full of a great deal of controversy and the author, while clearly in favor of certain video gaming for young people, is willing to engage various aspects that have drawn controversy.  That said, there are clearly going to be quite a few readers who are both more loose and more strict than the author is, and he makes a point of trying not to micromanage the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children are using games in a way that is permitted to them.  It should be noted as well that those parents who object to the use of magic in games or who do not want their children to trow up to be little hackers will also want to be picky about which recommended games to allow and encourage for children.

This particular book is divided into two parts and fifteen chapteres.  The first part of the book consists of an introduction (1), a discussion of contemporary gadgets (2), some notes on the internet (3), and the status of scientific research on gaming (4).  The second part of the book encourages gaming for a variety of reasons (5), talks about the role of parents in game-based learning (6), evaluating gaming content (7), a parent’s guide to educational gaming (8), educational games for preschoolers (9), young kids (10), tweens (11), and teenagers (12), as well as an encouragement in learning programming skills for kids (13), gamification strategies to increase the motivation to learn (14), and getting everything together (15).  While I read the ebook version of this particular book, the paperback is a bit more than 150 pages, about 50 of which are spent giving specific discussions and recommendations concerning a wide variety of games, focused especially on games that help students in STEM subjects.

In this particular book we have a mixture of information which is likely to become very obsolete very quickly and that which has a good and lasting value.  The author’s discussion about gaming systems and recommendations on specific games, whether they are cell phone apps or browser games or (more rarely) console games, are likely not to be very lasting at all given the rate of change within the world of gaming.  On the other hand, the author’s discussion of the scientific research as well as the importance of gamification when it comes to learning (as used by Khan Academy, for example) is an example of much more timeless and lasting material.  I am uncertain of how often the author is going to wish to revise his material, as it may be necessary to have an annual (if not more frequent) update on what educational gaming apps are still available and which ones are new.  This may be best served online if the author is willing to host or encourage such a dynamic list, which would greatly increase the value of this book over the long haul, unless the author wishes to write a lot of updated editions to this book as technology and the educational games available change.  For the moment, though, this book is certainly well worth reading and certainly should prompt some thinking about parents when it comes to video games and educational games as far as their children are concerned.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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