Video Games for Education

It’s pretty much every college student’s dream – video games at school. The University of Calgary has a new area equipped with video games, but it doesn’t look too modern. Instead, it resembles something straight out of a 1970s basement and that’s the way it is supposed to look. The Taylor Family Digital Library is part of a new $175 million dollar building that is slated to open this summer, according to an article posted in the Chronicle of Higher Eduction. It is supposed to give students ideas about how and where earlier model video games, such as Nintendo and Atari, were used.

Plenty of other schools have already moved students from their dorm rooms and into libraries for video game purposes. The University of Michigan has a Computer & Video Game Archive, the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater also has a gaming selection in its library, and the University of New York at Stony Brook will open a gaming lab this fall. But why, you ask? Because games are actually used in different courses to study a number of different concepts, including: in English courses, as material to study interactive narratives; in media classes, to study the cultural impacts of violent video games; and in game design, which is offered in over 300 colleges.  Due to the fact that classes are using video games for studying learning materials, the library needs to be doing something to support the material and the research for those concepts.

Even so, there are critics who wonder if cash-strapped schools and libraries should be investing in video games, which cost thousands of dollars, rather than investing in traditional learning materials. While the University of Michigan opened its gaming area with no problems, some schools are experiencing negative backlash and less than positive press. The Miami University in Ohio received some bad press that may have been related to bad timing. Students and staff had approved using funds from student technology fees to purchase equipment for their facility, but the monies weren’t received until 2009, when the campus was hit hard by budget cuts and 15 positions were slashed in the library. The library was rolling out video game systems and flat-screen televisions at the same time and received some backlash for those expenditures.

Even though some schools have put more money than others into starting video game learning, it really boils down to what type of equipment will be used and how many are purchased. Obviously, older games and systems would cost less than those that are newer and it just depends on the amount of money that will be put into schools that wish to add video game instruction to their libraries. Some schools and universities take old systems and games on donation to ease the costs associated with stocking libraries with gaming consoles and accessories.

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