Can Video Games Help You Learn?

Apr. 29, 2014 - by Katy Ward

Can Video Games Help You Learn?

By Katy Ward
April 29, 2014
Can Video Games Help You Learn?

Video games: are they just for fun or are they important tools for learning? How do video games relate to religion? While most people would say video games are simply for fun, Dr. Mark Hayse, professor of Christian education and MNU Honors Program director, says they are important tools for learning. He’s currently researching ways video games can be viewed from a religious perspective.

“Video games have been a lifelong fascination of mine; I played them as a child and I continue to be curious about video games and their design,” Hayse commented.

Hayse explained that there are very few scholars who have studied video games from a religious perspective. Most who have conducted studies on video games have analyzed the media effects of video games, education and games, and cultural studies. They look at what video games say about race, gender, politics and power.

“I think this is a great opportunity to merge my passion and interests with my teaching,” said Hayse. “When I’m teaching my classes, I want to find out if there are people who are as interested in video games as I am.”

Hayse currently teaches “Understanding Video Games” and “Games as Learning Systems.”

“I wish that there was an interdisciplinary program about video game design,” adds Hayse. “I feel value that can be added through video game related classes and I think that there would be a lot of students who would be interested.”

Hayse says his Understanding Video Games course is set up exactly like a video game, such as World of Warcraft. While his course is modeled after a game like World of Warcraft, he created his own game for the coursework.

“All the students began the class with an avatar and specific roles,” he said. “The students played the game forming guilds, as well as exploring the class content. The students were able to be as successful as they wanted; they could earn experience points and were able to level-up after achieving a specific number of points. Many students had way more points than they needed for an A+.”

Can Video Games Help You Learn?Students testing their board games during class.

Hayse’s “Games as Learning Systems” explores two questions: how do games teach and how do gamers learn?

“Gaming is built into life. They teach you how to create short and long-term goals; they are essentially motivation machines,” Hayse explained.

When one thinks about it, games are designed to help people learn through failing rather than achieving.

“When you play video games, you constantly fail but continue to play anyway,” he said. “You want to get to the next level so you play and fail, all while learning how to improve the next time you try.”

Hayse says educators should take advantage of the way video games teach people. Video games are designed so that everyone starts out at a level with zero points. The player can then work as hard as they want to go as far as they want.

“Classes are the opposite of video games,” said Hayse. “Once you get a bad grade, students can’t really make up the points. Video games, on the other hand, allow you succeed even if you fail multiple times.”

“Games as Learning Systems” is set up to allow students to learn how to design board games. The students spend the entire semester writing an extended paper on how they put together their board game with a theory related to education.

“This class is unique because the students don’t learn how to improve until they play their board game and then find all the problems with it,” Hayse said. “The class is related to a term called ‘iterative.’ This means to go through revision after revision. Once the student tests their game and finds all the problems, they are able to gather the correct data to create a better game.”

Can Video Games Help You Learn?Dr. Mark Hayse playing games with his students.“It’s a very fun class. It’s not just all fun and games; there is a lot of learning how to take games and use them as education,” commented Blake Owings, freshman youth and family ministry major. “We learned a lot about how games can teach us different skills.”

Creating a culture within his classroom where failure is fun is his goal because he says failure breeds strength and improvement.

“Making a board game is not easy! This class taught me that as long as you keep trying, you can be successful. Even if you mess up multiple times, you learn more from those mistakes than if you were to make it perfect the first time,” said junior ministry major, Ian Perry.

Hayse constantly finds ways to relate video games to a religious perspective.

There have been many religious video games such as Adam’s Venture, Super Noah’s Ark 3D, The Axys Adventures: Truth Seeker and many more. Hayse added that many of the games do not seem to capture a wide audience and the current religious games have only adapted the design of current secular games.

“My question is whether there is anything is unique to faith that has not been introduced to video games and could that aspect be an added aspect of video games,” Hayse said.

A game about ethical reflection or creating a mystery for player to experience are a few ideas he has tossed around.

“The heart of religion is not only a relationship with God, but seeking after what has yet to be revealed,” explained Hayse. “I would like to see a religious video game that has a ‘concealed mystery,’ which would keep people interested in playing the game in order to find out the mystery.”

 

MNU News

Tuesday, March 3
Recent News
List
Grid
Archives
Taylor Cowan
MNU Athlete Chosen for New NAIA Council

MNU Athlete Chosen for New NAIA Council

New group would provide a voice for NAIA student-athletes OLATHE, KANSAS—MNU student Taylor Cowan has been named to the NAIA’s proposed Association of Student-Athletes (ASA), a new group to be…

Read More
Steve and Ryan
Pioneers’ Biggest Fans

Pioneers’ Biggest Fans

They’re the Pioneers’ biggest fans. Attending as many home and away games as they can, Ryan Robinson and his dad, Steve, have made MNU athletic events their priority for the last four years. The…

Read More
KAHPERD022915
MNU Hosts PE Teachers

MNU Hosts PE Teachers

MNU hosted 140 K-12 and college physical education teachers from across the state of Kansas for the Kansas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance (KAHPERD ) winter workshop…

Read More
Robyn Essex
Alum Puts Experience and Civic Duty to the Test

Alum Puts Experience and Civic Duty to the Test

She’s the mom of three boys, an educator experienced with pre-school age children to corporate training, a volunteer youth leader, and now she’s…

Read More
M15Booth
M15 Conference Sets Vision

M15 Conference Sets Vision

This week's M15 (Mission 2015) Conference at the Kansas City Convention Center brought together nearly 3500 Nazarenes from across North America together. MNU faculty, staff and students served in…

Read More
Mabee
MNU Among Universities Recognized Feb. 9-16

MNU Among Universities Recognized Feb. 9-16

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has proclaimed Feb. 9-16 as Kansas Private College Week in the state of Kansas. The Governor's proclamation brings…

Read More
Grace Wallace 022015
MNU Senior Wins Prestigious Vocal Awards

MNU Senior Wins Prestigious Vocal Awards

MNU senior music major Grace Wallace won first place in Upper Women's College Division and College Musical Theatre Division competitions at the Kansas City Chapter of the National Association of…

Read More
Browards
Making Connections is Alum’s Passion

Making Connections is Alum’s Passion

Josh Broward is a well-rounded guy. Graduating in 2000 with a double major in religion and business administration he spent the next 15 years serving abroad as a pastor, a professor, a writer and a…

Read More
Adrien1 outcomes-61-3566513780-O
Success Is Balance of Work, Personal and Spiritual Life

Success Is Balance of Work, Personal and Spiritual Life

Adrien Piercy is an attorney with Bever Dye, LC, in Wichita, Kansas. But before that she was a marketing major at MNU. In 2007, she was even named…

Read More
Sports
Cheer Headed to Nationals

Cheer Headed to Nationals

The MNU Cheerleaders received an at large bid for the 2015 NAIA National Invitational which takes place March 12-14 at Midland University...(click title for more)

 
Pioneers Handle Yellowjackets

Pioneers Handle Yellowjackets

Gabriel Jordan topped 20 points for the first time in his MNU career as the Pioneers beat Graceland 101-86 on Saturday...(click title for more)

 
Sprew's Career-High Highlights Senior Day

Sprew's Career-High Highlights Senior Day

Daria Sprew capped her stellar career with a 30-point 12-rebound performance in a 32-point victory over Graceland on Saturday...(click title for more)

 
Latest Photos
MLK_2015-31
MLK_2015-33 Bob Shands (left) accepts Martin Luther King Living Legacy award on behalf of his late father, Rev. O. Norman Shands, Jr. Dr. David Spittal, MNU president (right).
MLK_2015-27
MLK_2015-23
MLK_2015-18
MLK_2015-8