Games have been used in education for centuries. Chess was used to teach strategic thinking as early as the Middle Ages and the game Kriegsspiel was created in the 19th century in order to teach combat tactics to the officers of the Prussian army. There is a rising trend to work with games such as Minecraft, Dreams, Portal or Civilization in schools. These and many other games can be used in pedagogical practice as a support tool that complements traditional teaching methods. If the game is implemented in the educational setting correctly, it can bring several benefits to students and educators/youth workers.
Besides the massive popularity of the games (not only) among the youth, game-based learning as an educational approach is also in line with the changes in modern society as well as the developments in the labor market as it responds to the increased demand for digital skills and critical thinking. Today’s students will hold a large number of positions which have not yet been invented. However, it is safe to say that living and working in the 21st century will be largely linked to the use of technology, the need to solve complex problems, resilience to change, tolerance to stress and the ability to respond effectively to rapid developments in our society. The form of the education will be just as important as its content.
Games are a perfect tool to help us build the skills and competencies needed for the 21st century. Overcoming obstacles, solving tasks or evaluating information are all common features of most of the games. They teach us to think in context, to think analytically and critically, to solve problems. Critical thinking is essential for building media literacy skills since it helps the student to acquire the ability to understand not only the superficial, but also the underlying media messages. Games are also a highly experiential medium. Their ability to immerse a person deep into ‘action’ is extremely useful for the purpose of education. Ensuring such a level of immersion in the school environment is not easy at all.