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Debunking the Resistance to Video Games in Education

February 20, 2024

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Written by Alan Sitomer

It’s always entertaining to be on the front lines of watching educational innovation fight its way through the naysayers. I recall when hip-hop in the class was viewed as an atrocity; now, it’s fabric to many lesson plans. I know the calculator was banned when it first popped on the scene; now, it’s a “must have” on many back-to-school supply lists. As many of us know, using video games as a vehicle to amplify educational outcomes has met with a ton of resistance and in recent years, the debate surrounding the integration of video games into educational settings has intensified.

Despite the growing evidence supporting the educational benefits of video games, many schools remain hesitant to embrace this innovative learning tool. Here are a few common reasons behind this resistance as well as a counterpoint that challenges these assumptions that shows why video games can be a valuable addition to classroom learning.

Resistance Point: Video Games are a Distraction from Traditional Learning

General Argument: Schools often view video games as a distraction that detracts “real” learning (whatever that may be).

Counterpoint: Video games can actually enhance learning by engaging students in a manner that traditional methods (like reading deflavorized textbooks or listening to “sage-on-the-stage” lectures) sometimes fail to achieve. The fact is, video games offer interactive experiences that can make learning engaging and exciting while fostering a deeper understanding of complex subjects through simulation and practice.

Resistance Point: Video Games Lack Educational Value

General Argument: There's a prevalent belief that video games lack substantive educational content or meritorious curricular value, with many people still seeing esports and gaming exclusively as vehicles for entertainment.

Counterpoint: The landscape of video gaming has evolved dramatically, with a significant shift towards games that not only entertain but also educate. This evolution reflects in the design and intent behind numerous modern video games, which are now being used as effective educational tools. These games span a wide range of subjects, including but not limited to history, mathematics, science, and language arts, offering a dynamic platform for learning that engages students in a way traditional methods might not.

Resistance Point: Difficulty in Assessing Educational Outcomes

General Argument: Schools often resist integrating video games due to the perceived difficulty in assessing their educational outcomes through traditional grading systems.

Counterpoint: Video games can provide real-time feedback and detailed progress tracking, which can be more informative than conventional testing methods. This immediate feedback can help teachers identify areas where students may need additional support, facilitating a more tailored educational approach.

Resistance Point: Equity and Accessibility

Resistance: There's a valid concern that reliance on video games could exacerbate educational inequalities, as not all students have equal access to the necessary technology at home.

Counterpoint: Schools can play a critical role in leveling the playing field by providing access to educational video games within the classroom. This approach ensures that all students benefit from these resources, regardless of their background.

Resistance Point: Cultural and Parental Opposition

Resistance: Cultural perceptions of video games as merely recreational can lead to resistance from both parents and educators, who may not view them as legitimate educational tools.

Counterpoint: Education around the benefits of educational video games is key to overcoming this hurdle. By showcasing successful case studies and providing opportunities for parents and educators to experience the educational value of games firsthand, schools can change perceptions and build support for their integration into the curriculum.

The resistance to integrating video games into educational settings often stems from misconceptions about their value, potential for distraction, and the logistical challenges of assessment and implementation. However, when examined closely, each of these concerns can be addressed with evidence supporting the educational benefits of video games. By leveraging video games as complementary tools within a broader educational strategy, schools can provide students with engaging, interactive learning experiences that not only supplement traditional education but also prepare them for a future in which technology plays an increasingly pivotal role. As educators, our goal should be to explore all avenues that can enhance learning and student engagement, including the thoughtful integration of video games into the classroom.

All in all, the benefits are well documented. Perhaps it’s time to consider gaming as a gateway to engender student success?


Alan Sitomer

Alan is Mastery Coding's CEO and a California Teacher of the year award winner who has written 22 books. He left the classroom and started this company because he sees the opportunity for students to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty through obtaining jobs in emerging technologies.

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