Yesterday at the Training 2006 conference (sorry for the break, but Disney’s internet plan is too silly, and Sprint’s new upgrade is too restrictive) I heard Stephen Johnson (author of “Everything Bad is Good For You”) make a compelling case for the thinking skills required to successfully play computer games. His argument is that playing such games develops new and necessary skills like systems-thinking and systematicity (both of which I support as curricular items).
I agree that such games require them, but not that they develop them. I cited two data points in a question to him: that there’s much evidence that kids ask around for solutions rather than solving the problems, and normally reflective kids will turn ‘twitch’ in the presence of a computer game. He responded well that they’ll only ask about the tough questions, and (I hope I’m recalling correctly) that there are some concerns about twitch but you can’t succeed well in the complexity of modern games without reflection.
Both true, but they sort of avoid the point. I’m willing to wear that (some) kids will develop such skills, but I also want to suggest that they won’t develop and transfer without support. Parents/mentors have to be involved until we build problem-solving coaching into the games (and we can, but that’s another story).