Sandbox video games and their potential educational use

Sandbox video games like the well-known ones Minecraft Not only have they been a real phenomenon in the world of YouTubers, but they also contain significant educational potential.

In this article, we’ll explore the wide range of educational possibilities they present.

The previous ones: games in real environments

It is proven that the game has been part of human civilization from its most remote origins and in all cultures and societies (Gertrúdix Barri and Gertrúdix Barri, 2013), forming an element of interactivity between young people and adults, through which they were educated and learned.

Through the centuries, the game has changed at the same time as all the different cultures and societies have, Adapt to the material and cultural characteristics of these and adopt modalities and types that are very heterogeneous between them.

To give an illustrative example, a few decades ago a large portion of the elderly grew up in a rural environment where games involved grazing animals, such as cows or sheep, as they often did not have. objects, animals and imagination. Over the years and with the advent of industrialization and mass production, young people have moved from playing with common objects to playing with dolls and toys, which they then introduced small electronic elements producing sounds or small movements.

Today, thanks to the strong development of new information and communication technologies (hereinafter referred to as ICT), game methods and tools have evolved to adapt to this new era, as they have done in previous centuries. That means the human being evolves and all the elements that surround him too; therefore, we have to understand that young people in this new era are used to living together and growing up using ICT regularly.

The arrival of educational video games

Video games are a fundamental part of the game of today’s youth. As was the case in traditional game modes, we can also educate thanks to this new tool (which is more and more followed and used), in addition to encouraging independent teaching with a wide variety of content and sometimes, Of considerable complexity.

The sandbox type video game

In the wide range of video game genres, all of which can offer us different ways to learn and improve cognitive skills, there is one genre that stands out among all of them for the countless possibilities it can offer: the sandbox type. of video games.

This genre of video games is known to offer its players an open world with great possibilities for modification and creation of the environment, as well as for following a non-linear argument, where often the goals are set by the player himself. , thus allowing the opportunity to enhance their creativity, encouraging self-narration and the construction of stories and experiences. If the social part they usually include is added to this cocktail, these types of video games are becoming a great tool to encourage learning, Creativity and, of course, fun.

You set the limits yourself

Under this new perspective that brings us this kind of video game where the limits are set by the imagination of the user, possible new applications of these in education and emerging teaching both outside and inside classrooms, giving rise to experiments conducted by communities of educators who use a sandbox-like video game, called Minecraft, in schools, to perform and demonstrate the benefits generated by the use of these applications.

The impact of this sandbox video game is of such magnitude that there is a vast community, in Spain and abroad, that is dedicated to the study and implementation of Minecraft in classrooms encourage the involvement of students in the learning of certain content and encourage creativity and independent learning.

Education and entertainment go hand in hand

Following the study of the use of video games for these purposes, the term edutainment was born (Gertrúdix Barri and Gertrúdix Barri, 2013), the result of the union of the words “education” and “entertainment”, on which several researches emerged. who have demonstrated the excellent results obtained with the educational use of digital immersive environments, that is to say sandbox-type video games, which, in the words of Sorathia and Servidio (2012): “offer a place to the empirical application of constructivist theory ”.

Among the results of this research is the quality of the learning process, Because it allows students to acquire different perspectives on phenomena and to experience multiple situations in which they acquire knowledge easily transferable to real life (Aldrich, 2009), (Dede, 2009), (Kapp and O ‘ Driscoll, 2010). These educational applications are made possible by the non-linearity of this genre of video games, making it easier for the teacher or trainer to customize and shape the objectives of the game to produce a learning and playful experience for students.

Beyond the Classrooms

Despite the possible uses that teachers can and do in many parts of the world, educational applications of sandbox-type video games such as Minecraft are not limited solely and exclusively to a classroom environment under adult supervision. . In fact, the simple and apparent playful use of these video games has a strong educational potential among young peopleBecause in most cases the content of these video games, and the possibilities they offer, are generally very applicable to real life, so what at first glance may seem like a simple game, can turn out to be a surprisingly educational experience.

In addition, directly and indirectly, the player will be obliged to make use of the imagination and therefore to train his capacity for creativity, Which should be a priority element of compulsory education.

Another great advantage of using sandbox genre video games is that the vast majority of them are usually accompanied by a large community of online gamers who promote, through complex codes of conduct, activity and the prosocial feeling. of inclusion regardless of the socio-economic differences of the players; so that they end up being, worth the expression: “simulators of the good citizen”, adding additional value to the educational experience resulting from its use.

Bibliographical references:

  • Aldrich, C. (2009). Learn Online with Games, Simulations and Virtual Worlds: Strategies for Online Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009.
  • Dede, chap. (2009). “Immersive interfaces for engagement and learning.” Science, vol. 323, pages 66-69.
  • Gertrúdix Barri, M. and Gertrúdix Barri, F. (2013). Learn by playing. Immersive worlds open up as learning spaces for young people. Journal of Youth Studies, 101, p. 123-137.
  • Kapp, K. M and O’Driscoll, T. (2010). 3D Learning: Adding a New Dimension to Learning and Collaboration in Business. sl: Pfeiffer.
  • Caviar, S. (2013). Use of Minecraft in the classroom. National Progressive Education Network Conference: Los Angeles.
  • Sorathia, K. and Servidio, R. (2012). “Learning and Experience: Teaching Tangible Interaction and Education”. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 64, pages 265-274.

Leave a Comment