Gaming and Learning: A Family Adventure

Spectrobes for the Nintendo DS has eaten up most of my gaming time since I first blogged about it. But my video game time has turned into father son time. As I've discussed earlier, my interest in Spectrobes (2007) was based on middle schoolers who choose the game over Pokemon. While the reviews were mixed, 7.5 from 1 Up & 6.5 from Game Informer, I've somehow leveled my creatures up to around 114 of the 128 level cap.

Now before you snicker, go back and look at how Spectrobes is an exercise in patience and persistence. I've used this to connect and help teach my 4 year-old son. My son, like many 4 year-olds, has issues with control and patience. Digging for fossils in the game has helped my son understand the benefits of approaching something carefully and not trying to rush through. It's working in the game. Most weekday mornings we spent some time before work/school digging up some fossils and while he initially struggled he continued to improve. While this patience and control doesn't always carry over into daily life, I've used his video game experience to help remind him during difficult situations.

I bring this up because I do not believe my son's experience is unique. Learning through video games is a useful tool in the larger discussion of kids and video games. Tracey John over at MTV's Multiplayer spent this week and last talking with parents about when kids are old enough for video games. The discussion generated a good number of comments from parents and gamers alike.

As video games are criticized and challenged in the press and government it is important to keep discussing the positive learning experiences children can have through games. Some of my son's positive behavior stems from what he's learning in Spectrobes. Video games can be good teachers at all age levels.