Stop Cleaning Your Room....and Go Play Your Video Games!

This is a TEDtalks Review of  - Gabe Zicherman: How Games Make Kids Smarter

Video gaming is a very integral part of children's lives these days. Adapting this fascination with education is nothing new and has been around since the mid 1980's. If you are old enough, you may remember games like Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego and Oregon Trail. These were the earlier examples of Educational Games that attempted to combine what a child should be learning with a media that a child "wants" to learn. In this TED Talks Gabe Zicherman attempts to explain that through his work and studies, he has learned that games are actually making our future generations smarter. A very strong argument made here is that learning through video games actually greatly increases our fluid intelligence vs. our crystallized intelligence.

Fluid intelligence is our ability to problem solve or learn on the fly. This is as apposed to crystallized intelligence which is a more structured learning where one simply solves problems through knowledge that has been memorized. His case actually suggests that games have helped children problem solve faster and faster. The level of multitasking in today's video games require players to do an astronomic amount of functions compared to the early days of games. This type of environments increases motor skills and "on the fly" thinking that previous generations where never exposed to. Zicherman suggests that maybe what we perceive as a sort of A.D.D. (that children can't seem to focus in today's world) is actual just a product of our world now being far too slow for today's children. I am inclined to completely agree.    He states that the rate of fluid intelligence has been rapidly increasing since the 1990's.  He then asks "Coincidence?" This Brings up an intriguing point. Video games started becoming very complex and wide spread around that time and I personally think it is no coincidence that this shift towards fluid intelligence has started becoming apparent starting with generations from that era.

The pacing of this TED talks was great. He covers a multitude of examples to convince us that games can in fact be used to educate our future generations. This is also known as Gamification, or the combining of learning with video games. Personally I have seen attempts at Gamification come and go, but I have always felt that it is a very under utilized resource that we could be using in education.  What I believe Zicherman does a great job of is convincing parents that it's okay to allow your children to play video games. This is something I believe many parents have been fighting for years. This aversion to children playing games I think stems from a misunderstanding of what video games really do to a child's brain. Zicherman does an excellent job of pointing out, through the use of slides and story examples, the positive effects that "Gamification" has on all of our brains. In the end the path that I think Gabe is trying to direct us is that we should embrace the power of what games can do for our education and get involved in them with future generations rather than fight against it. I am completely inspired by this, being a gamer since childhood myself. Today education seems to be at a struggle with being in sync with our children and how they want to learn. Why not combine something that they already love to do with things that will help them as they grow? The answer to solving some of today's educational struggles? Gamification! Let's bring the world up to speed. In Gabe's own words (in reference to today's generation) , "The world that we live in right now, the world of Sunday afternoons, drinking a cup of herbal tea, reading some old book, chilling out by the window....is over." Let's not fight the games that children love so much, but embrace the things that engage them.

If you are interested in learning more about Gabe Zicherman's ideas on gamification visit The Gamification Corportaion



  1. I have experienced some of this first hand. The interface of software can rewrite brain processing and make the interaction more fluid with increased interaction. As far as education is concerned, it is very expensive to bring current technology into the classroom and to upgrade it constantly to keep up. That is why there is such a lack of it.

  2. Very well written article. I agree with a lot of the points about the benefits of most of video games. Hopefully game developers keep challenging the mind of today's kids so that can bring some real changes tomorrow.

  3. Very well written and really well thought out. This is a perfect example of the benefits of gamification like we talk about in class.