In order to add more arguments in favor of the beneficial neurocognitive effects that video games have on players, it is worth mentioning that a more specific line of research has, in the past decade, been relating the use of video games to the improvement of the soft skills mentioned at the beginning of the article. Though some of these skills have already been mentioned in previous categories, the ones that stand out are: the relation of video game playing to a better communication, cognitive adaptability or flexibility, creativity, complex problem solving and organization, leadership, etc.
Video games in the classroom: does it make sense?
As may be observed, video games have become a tool of cognitive stimulation in many senses. This sounds logical, since there is also a great amount of types of video games closely related to every cognitive area we normally use. In this way, research has been unraveling the truth behind the influence of video games. Even certain educational figures have applied video games in the classroom, taking into account the previous information and other studies that showed an improvement of learning skills thanks to the use of video games.
For example, video games have been used in different educational institutions to support the learning of STEMcourses, taking advantage of the effects of Flow created in the students or increasing their motivation for learning and improving classroom interaction.
To be precise and more down to earth, and to portray the scenario of the video games’ role in the classroom, they have been applied to different courses such as Mathematics, using the algorithmic-numerical system that underlies the design and programing of each video game, as well as Language, using above all games with a high narrative load. Furthermore, video games have been used to teach History to foster the learning of mythology or historical events, and of course, for Science courses, though all the studies highlight the importance of the teacher as a moderator in class.
VERSA Project. Video games and soft skills for PhD students.
With this bibliographic information and the research projects, our foundation, Gecon.es, began an international project of educational innovation in 2021. The project, called VERSA (Video games for Skills training), financed by the program Horizon 2020 Science with & for Society Call (SwafS-2020 Topic 8), has the goal of fostering entrepreneurship-related soft skills in PhD students from the AURORA European universities network.
In order to do this, we designed a specific module structure for each soft skill related to the use of a particular video game, supported by the use of certain standard tests so as to be able to have a procedure of external measurement. The project’s main hypothesis is that, as stated before, the use of video games will improve the level of soft skills in students participating in the project.
With more than 80 students per module, all the results aim at a significant relation to the improvement of the first five soft skills that have already been trained (there are still as many to be started). The skills are: Cognitive Flexibility, Creativity, Critical Thinking, and Teamwork. Therefore, and once more, the evidence suggests that video games may mean a very valuable support in educational contexts, not only to improve specific skills but also to improve commitment, motivation, and students’ participation in the development of such skills.
The next step, once the project is finished, is to develop the model in order to continue its practice in the educational context and even extend it to the working context, so as to get into the field of professional training in working environments – what is called re-skilling. Thanks to this know-how, we have become increasingly more capable of creating specific programs to develop key soft skills in educational, training, and professional contexts, which allows us more and more to build bridges to close the competence gap between the academic and working fields, by specializing professional profiles thanks to, among other things, video games and also by using the motivating power of playful contexts that such video games create.