As an avid gamer I have been immersed in some great stories through video games. I have played on nearly every console since the first nintendo console was released in the mid-eighties. While back then the games were pretty basic, they told good stories and I would like to believe I learned something from them even if it was improving my hand eye co-ordination. You will not get something educational out of every game but the further technology advances video games are getting more multi-layered. The games being produced today are less one dimensional and can be played or experienced in many different ways.
I think the first Video game that amazed me on every level was Final Fantasy 7, It had an engrossing story, great characters, an amazing open world and brilliant mini games. You could visit a place call the golden saucer and just have some fun doing a range of different mini games. Mini games or side quests are a part of gaming that has gotten very popular and are a great way of adding more fun and educational dimensions into mainstream video games. The range of skills games can teach you to improve are reaction speeds, critical thinking, memory and perception to name a few (“7 Ways Video Games Will Help Your Kids in School,” n.d.).
Many games have mini games or side quests so you can take a break from the main narrative and do something different, it could be solving puzzles or collecting hidden maps that lead to a chest, joining a poker game or just doing fun quests that that boost your characters points. This helps the player engage with the games for longer and they don’t get boring as much with the multi-layered format.
I got really into the Assassin’s Creed franchise a few years back and after the first game the franchise really took off. Ubisoft’s uses of historical backdrops like the Third Crusade, the Italian Renaissance and the American Revolution gives the game such a rich atmosphere (Stuart, 2010). The use of actual characters and historical facts in the story line gives the player a great historical lesson whether they know it or not. The game gives the feel of being back in these historical places and it takes you to famous buildings and people of the era throughout the cities. While you pass a building of historical importance when exploring the city an option will pop up to read the background of the building and learn about its historical importance. It is a nice touch and gives the player the option to learn more if they choose; I certainly learned a lot of interesting history from playing those games while not taking anything away from the game itself.
There is a lot more that can be done within mainstream games to add more educational context. With these open world type games where you can come and go as you like or take a break from the main arch of the story and play a game within the game, you could add a variety of games that promote different learning skills presented in a fun way. Assassins Creed have done this with their games and it is a wonder why other games haven’t followed suit by adding a real historical background that will engage with the players. As Stuart states in his article, “Assassin’s Creed has proven that historical games don’t need to be literary or intellectually worthy. The games are smart and engaging, they pique your curiosity about the Templars and the nobles of the Renaissance, but they don’t shove it down your throat”(Stuart, 2010).
- 7 Ways Video Games Will Help Your Kids in School [WWW Document], n.d. . The Huffington Post. URL http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kara-loo/7-ways-video-games-help_b_6084990.html (accessed 10.28.15).
- Stuart, K., 2010. Assassin’s Creed and the appropriation of history. The Guardian, URL http://www.theguardian.com/technology/gamesblog/2010/nov/19/assassin-s-creeed-brotherhood-history (accessed 10.19.15).