Vanguard Teaching

Front and center of tomorrow's society – learn smarter, teach harder

Teachers! Step Yo’ Game Up!

“You can’t make a living by playing video games all damn day!” – Anonymous Bewildered Educator…

Game over for you teachers and parents who have blindly preached the Gospel of “Video games are bad.” Wildly popular websites such as and have blatantly shattered the myth espoused by countless teachers and parents.  Gamers ARE making a living by playing video games all day just by showing the world what they are playing.

The video game industry is (and has been…and for a long time will be) BIG MONEY! Multi-multi-billion dollar industry that creates jobs spanning from computer engineering to marketing to idea creation. This week’s Electronic Entertainment Exposition (E3) should convince any skeptic understand that video games are here to stay.  It is imperative for the education system learn how to flow with it and find ways to incorporate video games into school curricula to establish positive educational and behavioral results – whether using games as positive reinforcement, or to explain/test a point/theory, or use to increase cognitive learning skills.

Bottom line educators: Video games CAN add value to the classroom.  In the innovation driven schools of Norwegian, competitive video gaming, eSports, has been added as an elective in their curriculum.  More and more research is discovering and uncovering how video/computer games can be highly beneficial to the classroom environment.  Here are my top 3 games that I successfully used in my English and History classes.


Classic Games for the Classroom

Oregon Trail – 8-bit Old, but still analog gold

Oregon Trail

After 20 years, this 8-bit game is still a hot commodity for a classroom – whether you have students playing it individually or as a class. Social studies teachers can easily pair up with English and Science teachers to journal about their experiences on the Oregon Trail in a diary or research the medical conditions and illnesses that plagued travelers (e.g. yellow fever, small pox, measles, etc.). Playing the game as a class will spark much debate, discussion and other team building activities if you have the students choose an executive decision maker for the class and chronicle how the class went about progressing in the game.


Age of Empires 2 – Real-time strategic edutainment

Age of Empires

Real time strategy (RTS) games such as Age of Empires are golden educational gems for history, economics, psychology, and science classes. There are many RTS games like AoE 2 (Civilization, Clash of Clans, etc.) that are gamer hits – my students and I were stuck on stupid with this particular game. So many academic lessons can be incorporated into this game: civil engineering, military history and strategies, game theory based ideas, teamwork, economics, etc. This game requires participants to think critically, communicate effectively and be attentive to detail.


Rock Band/Guitar Hero – The fun kids/adult factor

Guitar Hero

Tell the professional development leader that next time put this game on the big screen (instead of another redundant PowerPoint slide show) and teachers will definitely pay attention. Instrumentation games such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero are able to get a large amount of people involved. Wouldn’t you love to see your principal get up and sing “Hungry as a Wolf” with the head of the math department on the drums?


The Possibilities are Endless

If you don’t know what would be a great game to incorporate into the classroom – ASK THE STUDENTS! It would be a perfect way to get the students involved in their learning (you can have them write a persuasive paper with research on why the game they like should be included into a lesson or class reward). Video games are an American pastime like playing cards were in the past: they can be great learning and social experiences.


One comment on “Teachers! Step Yo’ Game Up!

  1. nycteacherabroad
    June 13, 2016

    PBS learning media has one called Mission US as well as others that are interactive social studies games. Great for English building skills as well!

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on June 13, 2016 by in Tips For Teachers and tagged , , , , , .
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