Kids, gaming, and academia on the sly

Just read an article summarizing some interesting research on how kids are practicing the scientific method on video games without realizing it–the same kids who are tuning out of science classes, according to the article. I’m not so sure I agree with that last point–often the kids attracted to gaming tend to be the kids who are more into academia… but then, there are a lot of kids who aren’t interested in anything except their PS3 or whatever. 

Intriguing and food for thought. Makes me especially glad that many librarians are seeing this kind of thing and working on how to get kids into the library via video and tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons. YALSA is really big on promoting that to librarians and helping them find resources, and has held a gaming seminar at many (all? I’m not sure) Midwinter conferences lately.

One thing I lea
rned while working at Wizards that I hadn’t known before–because I didn’t know how to play the game before that–is how much math, creative storytelling, strategy, and research skills goes into each D&D game. Players have to be able to calculate their own statistics to create a character, and the game itself is like a group storytelling hour with battle thrown in (hence the strategy, leading to creative and independent thinking). I loved that we had the D&D in the Library program that showed librarians how to play the game and gave them resources like book lists that could encourage players to use the stacks to improve their game play or character (Castle by David MacCauley, for example, is a great book for helping players to see just what a castle might look like in their game).

So I’m not at all surprised by Steinkuehler’s findings. It’s just nice to see academic support of this idea that the way to help kids get excited about science and math and English is to meet them where they are.