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My 11th Grade Essay About Video Games: Hidden Learning

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Hidden Learning~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If a student were to inquire a teacher about their thoughts on playing video games rather than reading, it’ll seemingly be an obvious answer. This is exactly what I did once jokingly, resulting in expected disapproval. Listening to a teacher lecture on how one is smarter off reading academic books rather than playing video games, and then seeing them proceed to taunt with thumbs pretending to press on an imaginary gaming controller, was disheartening. Their reasoning including, “The smart students develop their learning through books instead of wasting time playing games,” is how I remember it was described by one in particular if not many teachers in a similar manner. Society neglects video games being able to inspire learning through fostering one’s intellectual growth. This is not to say one should avoid school and rely on games for a college degree, but rather notice video games are also supplemental to learning just like reading books. Instead of being a waste of time, video games condition our problem solving, collaborative teamwork, and competitiveness. Although I was first exposed to video games at a young age, they still affect my daily life and it creates a way to establish a community plus friendships. Additionally, they hone my work ethic as well as my determination.

To begin with, I was introduced to video games during preschool by my older cousins. I quickly realized that similar to board games as chess or even physical sports like basketball, a video game is just like any other game in terms of requiring problem-solving in order to win. It is a competitive contest decided by skill, and sometimes luck, played according to set rules. I knew this early on as a young child since I kept losing to my older relatives and friends. Despite the several losses in matches, I gained connections and friendships in nostalgic nights that I still yearn for, where the neighborhood kids would spend the evenings together playing Super Smash Bros. Those times were beloved and cherished, however, as soon as I picked up my love for video games, I was discouraged by my mother continuously about how terrible video games apparently are for my education. Video-games aren’t the stereotypical image that adults fear nor an unnecessary, detrimental activity teaching children actions that are brainless and violent, such as blasting guns and harming computer-generated people. In point of fact, the most popular games are able to maintain peak amounts of players daily because of one thing in common, problem-solving.

There is endless opportunity for complex games to teach problem-solving. Whether my popular game of choice is Rocket League, Counter-Strike, or Minecraft, they all encompass problem-solving that is very rewarding and fun, such as overcoming obstacles or defeating an opponent. Notice that just as a game of chess can be played physically, it can be played digitally as if it was a video game. This means there can be video games with the amount of complexity and problem-solving of chess, played by players who are just as analytic as chess players. I find it surprising that the encouragement from adults for learning chess isn’t transferred equally when it comes to learning video games. However, I don’t find it surprising that mainstream games can be in fact as complex in problem-solving, but also substantially more so since a video game’s graphics and imagination enables increasing possibilities whereas a board game like chess is played in real life. Chess is in fact a popular video-game I play daily, and it is a prime example of how problem-solving is a bulk of the gameplay. I am constantly trying to set up my pieces in order to strive for the goal of winning and checkmate. When I am being pressured, I must counter the opponent by planning ahead. On the computer, I love developing my thinking skills playing chess against other people, which isn’t any different in terms of methodically playing any other game.

On the other hand, the most popular video games also all require collaboration which develops another important aspect that people also need to learn, teamwork. With advancing technology, there is ample opportunity to connect with others, so people are eager to play games together rather than individually. There is a significant amount of communication and teamwork required, as each team devises and executes plans privately over voice calls. Teamwork is especially needed in a shooting type game like Counter-Strike, as you need to coordinate with your teammates to carry out strategy and tactics effectively. This is contrary to the common belief that shooting games are about brainless violence. My teammates and I constantly talk it out and go over the steps we mean to execute to have success in our matches. Even simple communication and planning such as, “I will scout the area for enemies as someone else behind me watches for enemy flanks,” ensures that everyone is on the same page and no one is caught off guard. Against experienced and crafty opponents, my team is often pressured and feels stressed during grueling, intense matches that consistently demands a strong connection between our teamwork and planning. Cooperation as a result is surprisingly easy for everything else, including school work and projects, since I have the opportunity to exercise it daily in video games.

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Finally, the last skill that I love to grow in video games is the ability to be competitive. A story I like to tell is that naturally, whether it be a physical game of basketball or a shooting game like Counter-Strike, I usually start out being terrible in skill compared to everyone else. Within a group of children, I was always picked last by captains each time for a team due to my skill. Soon grew a determination that was the same whether it be in real life or a video game, motivating me each time to start from scratch and tone each technique and mechanic of my gameplay. I would have sessions where I’d practice alone so that when I am in a team, I appear more competitive than anyone else. It wasn’t about training my thumbs, nor my ability to click buttons, but rather my mind to understand different scenarios and the tactics in response to them. Eventually, I began to be chosen first each time I played anything. A lesson I learned from this was enjoying a game at an advanced level requires training. Mechanics and techniques need to be trained in order to achieve mastery, whether it be an academic contest like a math competition or a physical sports tournament. This has furthered my understanding of the old saying, “Practice makes perfect,” which is extremely useful for school and my studies to becoming a scholar.

A common saying from a lot of people, society, and especially adults, is that spending time playing video games isn’t beneficial at all for learning. Seeing video games as inhibitory to learning is a perspective I have observed most evident in adults who are unfamiliar with what video games actually are. The games that are the most popular and are able to stay so is due to their competitive nature and learning curves being so steep. Video games are often disregarded when it comes to learning valuable intellectual and analysis skills when ironically masterful understanding is the focus of competitive play and where the enthusiasm stems from for mainstream video games that children and adults alike in the community enjoy.

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Thank you for reading! Sorry for any spelling/grammar mistakes, I rarely ever write nor like to to be honest 🙂 This essay has been turned in a while ago already but thank you if you want to correct any mistakes

I had an essay I needed to write for an English summer class as an 11th grader. The prompt required me to explain and back up an example of Gerald Graff's idea: Hidden Intellectualism

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The prompt:

"In 'Hidden Intellectualism,' Gerald Graff deconstructs the binary opposition of book smarts and street smarts, arguing that both academic and non-academic interests can foster one’s intellectual growth. Graff claims that non-academic interests—like sports, movies, or cars—can be the source of one’s “hidden intellectualism.” He realizes that reading and arguing about sports with his friends was, in fact, 'practicing being an intellectual before knew that was what wanted to be.'

Assignment: Write a 3-4 page thesis-driven and MLA-formatted essay (that means at least 3 full pages) in which you describe, discuss, and analyze one non-academic interest that is the source of your hidden intellectualism, and explain how it affects your larger identity/life and prepares you for college and beyond."

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So I chose to talk about playing video games, since one of my favorite things to do. I posted this essay because this was the only essay I really put my best effort into (other essays I would quickly try to get it over with). Admittedly, I still rushed this one due to deadline and procrastination, so it may not be fully fleshed out.

I was inspired to post this today especially upon seeing this post, which is also similar and you might like: https://www.reddit.com/r/truegaming/comments/hzlmam/simplistic_view_of_video_games_in_popular_culture/

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