There is a growing body of research around the links between video games and literacy and learning.
One noted scholar is Dr. James Paul Gee, from Arizona State University, who maintains that for students to be successful they have to be able to do more than read and write. They have to be able to make the transition to more complex thinking and language. He has studied what is referred to as the ‘new literacies’ and how this transition can be more easily made by using digital literacy. He has studied, among other things, the learning principles found in video gaming and how they can be applied to the classroom setting. He has written two books on the subject, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy and Good Video Games and Good Learning as well as numerous articles. His website includes thought-provoking essays and publications. You may also enjoy this video clip.
More recently Dr. Jane McGonigal, a video game developer and Director of Game Research and Development at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, CA has argued that if the level of engagement and commitment found with gamers can be harnessed, it can be used to make the work a better place to live in. She has written a book, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. Her website is a good first start to learn more as well as this recent article in the Toronto Star.
A fun video on Video Games and Learning makes the case for a melding of educational video games with fun video games to further curiosity and learning by capitalizing on tangential learning that can easily take place through gaming.
Another interesting article titled The Literacy of Gaming: What Kids Learn from Playing published in Aug 2011 provides more info about video games and learning which emphasizes the importance of parents and educators engaging kids with games in thoughful ways. While there is powerful learning potential from gaming there is no guarantee it will occur; this article examines the potential and provides recommendations.
These are just a few of the many exciting research findings that show us that there is much more to video gaming than meets the eye and encourages educators to remain open minded and creative.