To the Editor:
In response to your article “Digital Games Bring Entertainment Into Learning Realm” (Aug. 11, 2004):
I have a 13-year-old nephew who greatly prefers digital-simulation games to those that might be characterized as “shoot’em-ups,” and he insists that they help him learn. To my nephew’s credit, he is often able to equate real-life events to the simulated incidents included in the games.
Some simulation games are better than others. An early one, Oregon Trail, was a forerunner in helping children learn about the history of America’s westward expansion. Games can oversimplify historical realities, but this is no reason to reject their use in schools, as most instruction tends to oversimplify historical events.
What is most compelling about simulation games is that students interact with the digital content, including, facts, history, events, and people, and then experiment with many outcomes. Such interaction results in subject-learning increases because students are forced to apply critical-thinking skills to course material, a task that is easily avoided when they are only asked to read about a topic.
As simulation games and the technology to create them continue to develop, I suspect that we will find these games reflect reality to a greater extent, and that there will be more ways for students to interact with these digital worlds.