Effective Teaching Aids

Playing video games has transitioned from being a trivial pastime activity, amongst antisocial teenagers, to becoming an EdTech tool to help students develop 21st-century skills. These games represent some of the aspects that characterize the digital age. That’s why many educators today are reshaping their teaching practice to align with the demands of the rapidly changing world with greater emphasis on skills like creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, all of which can be leveraged by video games.

Even though educational video games have been in classrooms for over 50 years — and even though research shows educational games can be effective — they are not that common in classrooms today. Consequently, many people (educators and non-educators) still question how video games help students develop 21st-century skills. Hence, this article; briefly elucidates the topic.

Video Games and 21st-Century Skills

Teaching students 21st-century skills, such as problem-solving, is important to prepare them for the digitized workforce. Video games have interactive experiences that align with the top principles of inquiry-based learning. They emphasize active learning, creativity, high-level thinking and give real-world problems for learners to identify and decipher. Thus, increasing motivation, problem-solving skills, and autonomy. Games such as DragonBox Algebra — where students solve math problems in a fantasy environment — can also help students master critical thinking skills.

Video games help students in STEM

There are over a thousand video games centered on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These games help students identify and learn about several STEM components and their application in the real world. Many students drop out of STEM programs because of the complex nature of the introductory courses. But when these courses take the form of video games, they find it less complicated, more entertaining, and easier to grasp.

Video Games and 21st Century skills
Different types of video games

Players learn from failure

Games are a natural way to allow students to fail, learn from failures, and try again until they succeed before moving to the next level. It is one of the easiest ways to boost engagement in students, as it provides them with more tasks related to the topic or subject. In many games, there are scenarios where players are obliged to take an instant decision and face the consequence of their choice, and there are options to take another decision if the former was wrong.

The trial-and-error method of learning encourages the player to reach a solution where they learn a new behavior, a valuable skill. This technique also helps students understand the art of mastery, allowing them to build on previously learned concepts to construct higher-level and more complex knowledge to make it their own.

Video games encourage collaboration and teamwork

Collaboration is a 21st-century skill every individual must possess to thrive in a world like ours, as no one is an island. Games that require players to interact, plan, strategize, and work in groups of two or more help students learn how to achieve a defined goal together. In other words, video games reflect the essence of sportsmanship, where every player contributes to the team’s success irrespective of age, race, gender, or religion.

Video games boost literacy

Videogames based on stories can help students improve their literacy and vocabulary, as learning new words/languages or culture-specific phrases becomes easy. Students also learn how to adapt to a new environment as they advance to new levels without prior knowledge, making them proficient in one of the necessary skills for the 21st-century workspace – adaptability.


Video games are popular learning mediums. One estimate shows that by 2025, the global gaming market will amount to US$268.8 billion annually – significantly higher than the $178 billion estimated in 2021. This shows the value embedded in game-based learning: it is beneficial to students and the global economy. We have also gone past the era where education revolved around remembering facts and figures.

To survive and thrive in the future, educators must begin to adopt innovative approaches to ensure students acquire the necessary 21st-century skills. Fortunately, these games can allow students to interact with their peers within the virtual game space and learn from each other without prejudice. By including video games in lessons, teachers can also sustain students’ attention, boost engagement, and maintain excellence in the classroom.



How Video Games Help Students Develop 21st-Century Skills

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.