EduGame : Gaming and eSports at school
Keywords:gaming, video games, eSports, secondary schools, gamification
The main purpose of this pilot project was two-fold: first, to provide an overview of the topics and trends in research on pedagogical use of video games and eSports and, second, to explore user experiences among different stakeholders at one lower secondary school, which had initiated collaboration with a local eSports community. Video games, while not new (Malek, et al., 2019), have rapidly become very popular along with the digital transformation and entered also into the world of school and education, besides entertainment and professional sports.
Gamification has both an upside and downside, with both positive and negative effects, consequences, and implications (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2006; Malek, et al., 2019). Typical to video games is a dual purpose: education and entertainment, “edutainment” (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2006). On the positive side, gaming can expand students’ learning opportunities at school with new tools, which are engaging, motivating and fun (Plass et al., 2020; Schmitz, Klemke & Specht, 2013; Tkotzyk & Hebben, 2019), potentially making learning more effective. For example, positive learning effects were related with English language, oral and written, in a Norwegian study (Aaboen Sletten, Strandbu & Gilje, 2015). However, not even all “educational” games are good learning games, encouraging learning that “sparks intrinsic motivation and genuine engagement” rather than only stimulating content and procedural skills (Boudreau, 2021).
A major downside with video games is that it can have social impact and do the exact opposite to the above, especially when used intensively over long periods of time: distract the students from purposeful learning experiences and engagement (Adelantado-Renau, et al., 2019), even if each game does develop skills within its range of functions. However, the research is inconclusive whether “gaming activities result in poorer academic achievement, or, rather, are academic underperformers more likely to play computer and video games” (Gnambs, et al., 2020, 70). Nevertheless, at its most, serious excessive gaming has been related to increased school absence and refusal.
In this pilot study, we have explored both the positive and negative effects of the gaming phenomenon in the context of school research. The research review aims to provide insights into the topics and trends, not an exhaustive overview. Together with the interview study, the findings confirm that the use of video games in a classroom has significant pedagogical and social potential. Furthermore, the outcomes from gaming at school are conditional to various issues, such as the social and physical context, digital competence of teachers and how the gaming activity is being organized in schools.
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