It is no secret that I am against gamification of learning so if you want to argue about it that is not what I intend to here. What I wanted to focus on is one aspect of gamification that seriously undermines education: games related to the world’s most serious issues – hunger, poverty, war, gender and others.
I tweeted these this morning upon coming across a website that listed 26 Learning Games to Change the World

“Online games that deal with the world’s toughest issues. Scoring points will change the world?

This gamification of pain and misery is so unnatural. Literally playing with them. What kind of children do we nurture?”

gamification

You might be pro- games. I do not want to convince you otherwise. But I do want you to ponder on the ethical aspect of games in relation to topics such as the ones enumerated above.

Will our children become more empathetic if they score points in a simulation?

Will our children become more sensitive to the real world if they play with hunger and war?

Will our children understand the real world if they “game”?

I think the opposite is true. We desensitize them completely. We make them immune to how it feels to be hungry. To be a war victim. To be in pain.

This is literally gamification of human misery. If you think your children become better by playing it, do it. But I truly think there are other ways. More powerful, more authentic, with long-lasting effects.

Take them to a hospital to read to patients. Skype with or invite war veterans to tell their stories. Take them on a walk in the neighborhood. Set up a connection with a class and help them build a library across the world like Laurie Renton’s class did. Plant a tree with them.

These will change hearts. Not a silly game where you shoot to get points and “save” the world.

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