Video Games, Education, and Motivation

I think it is fair to say motivation among high school teens in America is lacking. Where does that lack of motivation stem from? Where does the motivation teens foster up to spend hours playing a video game stem from?

Video Games

Nowadays teens will spend hours playing Call of Duty, Madden, FIFA or other video games that involve learning, research, and strategy. They will fight with fellow players on “leaderboards” to be known as the one with the best win percentage, the most touchdowns or the the most goals. This fight for the top spot leads them to YouTube or other online resources to research and learn about current strategies to mold their own.


I wish I could tell you teens were bragging about getting an A+ in Advanced Physics, but it is just not happening. Teens don’t, generally, fight for the top spot in high schools anymore and those that do are not glorified by their peers but often put down or bullied for being different.

The question becomes how do we change this?

What if the answer is making education more like a video game (Gamification) or adding leaderboards to motivate students to get to the top. The fight for the top mentality that drive teens to spend hours playing video games could potentially work in schools.

Negative Consequences

This seems like a good idea on the surface but we must consider the fact that students could be put down by not being on top and this could have the opposite effect. We also must consider those non-competitive students, will they be left behind? Lastly, would it even work?

The correlation between the motivation to play video games and the motivation to learn could be present, but is it what could help fix schools in America? What do you think?

Sean P. Kern
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
Department of Instructional Technology


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MSIT student at Bloomsburg University

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