Play Hard, Learn Harder

Posted by KK on Apr 5, 2016

It is true that becoming hooked to a video game depends on how the game challenges one’s mind and stimulates their desire to get to the next level. Apart from the theme of the game itself, some of the main selling aspects of a video game is its graphics and motion abilities. If the graphics depict real life environment and challenges the gamer with a mission that has intuitively tangible outcomes, he becomes well engrossed in it, sailing from one level to another till he completes all levels, which is his ultimate reward. This is just one of the attractions to gaming. Depicting this to teaching and hoping to stimulate the same kind of interest in say, mathematics, is a tough call. But then involving students in doing the mathematics involved in the development of such games could be of much interest to students and hopefully inspire them to take the subject seriously. By exposing them to mathematics at work, may encourage them to explore the subject much further till they are able to affect the development of the video game with regard to its graphical and motional side.

A vital difference between video games and education is that, from its infancy, a video game is based on ‘playing’, per se, while the basis of education has always been on enhancing learning. The gamer knows that the reward for completing a level is imminent, while with education the learner has no clue as to how and when he/she would positively use the knowledge currently being acquired in the real world, which is his form of a reward. So, ensuring that lessons are presented in a way that is mentally intuitive and emotionally rewarding to a student could go a long way towards achieving the kind of reward-effect that video gamers get when playing. Demonstrating how mathematics is applied in real life projects that otherwise could not have taken place without the mathematical in use may encourage students to investigate the subject further.

Some progress in making mathematics as intuitive and challenging has been adopted by several online sites like, These sites allow the learner to tackle more challenging problems depending on progress from previous attempts. And it is how game developers entice the player to keep on playing till they reach the next level.

By adopting the video game approach in teaching may be seen as reverting to a system of student grouping based on their abilities (Jo Boaler in Mindset in Mathematics) some students do progress much faster than others and they are given more challenging problems as they progress further, e.g. This way of thinking could be countered by the fact that every student has a personal account which allows them to work on their own pace. It may even encourage students that are lagging behind to pull up their socks when they realise how far their friends have gone.


While video games provide students with opportunities to take risks, the way our education system is designed does not provide such opportunities. This, among other things, is a what makes games addictive, a feature that is lacking in every education system.



  1. rajchopra
    8 April 2016

    I liked your mention of real life environment and its importance. And you raise the topic of addiction to video games.

  2. pepsmccrea
    8 April 2016

    Great thinking as always KK. You look at both sides of the strong in trying to figure it out. I’m not convinced the distinction between education and games is quite as clear cut as you suggest > it is possible NOT to learn playing games? And to what extent is school a game?

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