Part 2: Gaming, Gamification and Education: What if I'm not a Gamer? How do I keep up?

*Note:  This is part 2 of a series on why I think educators need to pay attention to Gaming and Gamification.  There are resources provided to help!

Let's face it, most active classroom teachers, administrators, and parents are busy!  After our school day ends, we are cooks, cleaners, chauffers, coaches, puppeteers, and volunteers,  (ok, so I snuck that puppeteer one in to make sure you were still with me.)

Our children are growing up in a video game rich environment.  From Angry Birds to Pokemon Go to World of Warcraft, most of our students are exposed to some sort of gaming environment.  So most educators and parents should be aware of these games for two important reasons:

1.  Relevant Content:  Many video games have amazing content that could correspond to school based topics and curriculum.   Many video games have historic themes and narratives that could be harnessed for a history class or literature class.  Most of us have watched Hollywood movies in our classrooms that can help with the content we are trying to get across.  Video games have this potential too.
2.  Harmful Content:  Parents and educators certainly should be aware that many games have violent and sexual themes and content.  The Gaming industry has a ratings system called the ESRB.  This is very similar to the movie ratings system.  Many parents may not be aware of this system and unwittingly purchase games that are not age appropriate for their children.  Stores that sell video games are required to not sell to minor's based on the content ratings.  From what I have seen, retailers have been following these guidelines.  I think parents often purchase games based on what their children ask for and don't do the due diligence to look at the ratings.  Please don't misunderstand, I'm not trying to come down on parents too harshly.  We live in an entertainment saturated world and preventing our children from accessing inappropriate content is incredibly challenging.   However, with a little more vigilance and some tough love parenting, (namely saying no to R-Rated movies and gaming content).

With that said, I have some assistance for you.  There are some awesome websites out there that will give you content analysis and maturity level analysis, so you can do some quick and easy research before you empty your wallet for a game your child has asked for.  Also for the teachers looking for writing prompts or content specific conversations that they can engage their students on, some of these resources will help give you some guidance about content.  

My top 3 Resources from this list?
1.  Common Sense Education- Ratings and Content Review  Awesome Site!!!
2.  Pixelkin- Game Reviews for Families.  Can filter by age level!
3.  Wikipedia- Yes Wikipedia.  I know many look down upon Wikipedia for various reasons. But Wikipedia has content reviews of many of the popular game programs.  Its valuable because it will give you the historical background as a teacher or parent so you can make sure that the game based content is accurate and appropriate.  Here is an example:  Assassins Creed
I hope these resources will give you some guidance and peace of mind when you go to purchase or talk to students about their gaming experiences. 

The key takeaway:  Be Not Afraid!  Be Informed!