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Classrooms Across Europe Are Integrating Video Games To Improve Education – Should Malta Follow?

Imagine this: you are seated in history class, learning about the Acropolis of Athens. Yet for this lesson, your teacher uses video games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey to suddenly transport you to Ancient Greece for a virtual tour of what these sites were like.

This seems all but set to become reality in both Poland and Belgium’s Flanders after recognition by their Education Ministries in the value of integrating video games into the classroom. Should Malta become the third?

Last week, Belgium’s Flanders became the second government in Europe – after Poland – to have its Education Ministry announce their commitment to integrating video games into the classroom after noting the value their research has found it to have upon the education curriculum.

“We’re delighted with the Game.Learn.Grow toolbox and want to thank the Flemish Department of Education and Training, Arteveldehogeschool, and Mediawijs for making this possible.” Said David Verbruggen, the spokesman for the Flemish/Belgian video game sector. “Here’s hoping the tools lead to an ever-expanding database of quality, game-driven content that prove that games in the classroom are here to stay.”

This announcement comes days after the University of Oxford published a study suggesting that playing video games can be good for one’s mental health.

Based off of experiences of 3,000 adult gamers who play Animal Crossing: New Horizons and/or Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, the study is considered small in scope yet ground-breaking in being the first of its kind.

Key findings within the study include that a player’s subjective experience with a game plays a bigger factor for well-being than how much their play time is. It also found that players that experience genuine enjoyment from playing video games were more likely to have a positive well-being reported.

Regarding the small scope of the study’s results Director of Research at the Oxford Institute, Professor Andrew Przybylski, stated that “without research, you cannot know if this is a real thing or just your own ‘facts’. You can have your own opinion, but you cannot have your own facts.”

The question remains however, about whether Malta should perhaps adopt a similar stance as Belgium’s Flanders and Poland have. Research has also suggested that video games can provide learning benefits in children – such as improving critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Among the potential games out there in the world, three stand out as perhaps the more well-known candidates; Assassin’s Creed, Minecraft and Classcraft. All of three present various methods towards making classroom settings more engaging and interactive.

In latest historical trilogy of Assassin’s Creed Games; Origins, Odyssey and Valhalla, players have been given access to the Discovery Mode (Valhalla’s Discovery Mode is set to launch in 2021). In this special mode, all combat and quests are disabled in the game in favour of guided audio tours of various historical locations within the games.

Through Classcraft, teachers are able to create customised quests and adventures for their students to embark upon. Students must then move through each step of the questline – partaking in discussions, quizzes, and even strategic boss fights.

Additionally, Minecraft has built-in education curriculum modes each with lessons, customised worlds and tutorials that cover a range of subjects covering everything from science to language arts.

As the world changes, the video game industry continues to grow and capture more people. As COVID-19 lockdowns across the world have proven, video games are becoming a more regular pass time for people.

As other countries move towards a new future of education, the question remains as to whether Malta should take a similar strategy or remain far away from it.

Do you think Video Games should become more integrated with education? Comment below!

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