When dealing with a new medium for a sensitive field such as teaching, it is important to break away from preconceived ideas about it. Like any new media, video games have been the target of many criticisms, now validated or rejected by science. One of the most common preconceived ideas is that of game addiction, which has never been scientifically proven. Rather, we talk about excessive practices resulting from an external cause: family problems, harassment, depression, psychotic disorders, etc. (Leroux, 2012). Another controversy is that of gambling-related violence: this is a complex subject, with studies analyzing this theme giving contradictory results.
Nevertheless, the practice of violent video games is not correlated with an increase in crime (Cunningham, Engelstätter, & Ward, 2011). This medium also has the reputation of having a numbing effect on gamers. However, French 15-24-year-old video game lovers are more interested than others in cultural activities: museums, cinema, etc. (Pellerin, 2015). Video games would also have a positive impact on the creativity of players in tasks such as drawing or writing history (Jackson et al., 2012). Finally, contrary to popular belief, gamers have a more positive view of their lives than non-gamers (LifeCourse Associates, 2014). Thus, contrary to the image one may have of it, video games can be used in contexts other than entertainment, and notably as support in learning. Games are at the heart of natural learning in humans and animals alike. It allows individuals to experiment with situations, discover objects, explore their environment, or develop social relationships (Geary, 2008).
In the fields of pedagogy and learning
Some pedagogues have tried to integrate play into teaching in order to motivate students, encourage their involvement, and thus their learning performance. With the multiplication and democratization of computers in the 2000s, the use of video games as learning support has been of great interest, which continues today. For Yvan Hochet (Hochet, 2012), the evolution towards the integration of video games in a learning context would be due to a triple convergence: a change in the school public, less familiar with school culture and high consumption of video games; a renewal of teachers (arrival of young colleagues who are themselves gamers, concern for diversifying and adapting teaching to students, etc.). (Le Roux, 2005); a massive irruption of ex “new technologies” in our daily lives (internet, video games, becoming a massive cultural practice, …) and at school (ENT).
According to Van Eck (Van Eck, 2016), research on the use of video games in learning can be divided into three categories: The first concerns the integration of serious games (or “serious games”) in pedagogical sequences. In his thesis, Julian Alvarez defines serious games in the following way: “A computer application whose objective is to combine both serious aspects (Serious), such as, in a non-exhaustive way, teaching, learning, communication, or information, with playful springs from the video game (Game). Such an association thus aims to move away from simple entertainment. “(Alvarez, 2007). For its part, CERIMES sees it this way: “A real tool for training, communication, simulation, [serious games are] in a way a useful variation of video games for professionals. Serious Games (or serious games) are developed applications based on the latest video game technologies, employing the same design techniques and the same expertise as the traditional games. but beyond the pure entertainment dimension. ».
Finally, Karen Chabriac concludes, based on the two previous definitions: “Finally, what distinguishes serious gaming from classic video games seems to be the very purpose of the game: understanding, information, learning, education, skill enhancement on the one hand; fun on the other. “(Chabriac, 2013). There are, for example, many games in the medical field to train hospital staff. For example, the game Staying Alive allows testing first aid gestures while waiting for emergencies. The game Ventisim proposes to work on the rules of a virtual respirator, or the game UrgSim which aims to train hospital staff in emergency medicine. Similarly, there are a significant number of studies on the application of video games in the educational field (Kasbi, 2012; Wouters et al., 2013).
Games originally designed for educational purposes
The second category is to include games originally designed for entertainment for educational purposes (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2007; Megan Miller & Volker Hegelheimer, 2006; Rufat & Ter Minassian, 2012; Sandford, Mary, Keri, & Tim, 2006; Squire, 2004). Probably one of the subjects where the issue of integrating video games into educational content is most prevalent is the teaching of history and geography. Different teachers thus experiment with the use of video games in their practice of this subject, such as the reconstruction of a Roman forum in History class using the Minecraft video game (Ministry of National Education, Higher Education, and Research, 2015).
Another example is the use in history class of the video game Assassin’s Creed Unity, a game set during the French Revolution, to work on 18th century Paris (Meriaux, 2016). Finally, the third category concerns the development of video games by students, where the practice of development will serve the learning process. It fits perfectly into the new school curricula, which include an introduction to algorithms and programming. The freeware Scratch allows developing in a simple but also very advanced way the programming of a video game. Training courses in the Canopé Workshops sometimes offer initiations to the use of this software for primary and secondary school teachers. Many books also exist to facilitate the use of this tool. There are therefore various ways to approach video games in a pedagogical context. However, it is essential when preparing a pedagogical sequence using the video game to ask oneself the question of its effectiveness and relevance.