Research shows that difficult co-op games can create better relationships between students

The author of this article is Andreas Binggeli, Pedagogical Consultant, Future Classroom Lab

Gaming is more than just entertainment. With the right motivation and preparation, it can be a great tool for learning, as well as for developing social skills and relations within the classroom. 

This is the conclusion reached by the collaborative research carried out by the Aalborg University in Copenhagen and Future Classroom Lab, a Danish research facility experimenting with new ways of using technology in educational environments. 

Acer is working alongside the Future Classroom Lab to help develop and understand how technology can be used in education and has supplied a range of powerful Predator and Nitro desktops and monitors.

The research has investigated how gaming can be used in classrooms, and more specifically, how co-op games can affect relationships between students

Teamwork is the key to success

Our goal was to delve into the benefits of gaming and specifically highly co-op-based gaming within the classrooms,” explains professor Thorkild Hanghøj. “The kids know and love highly competitive games like CS: GO and Fortnite, but we introduced them to a more cooperation-based game, in which they need to collaborate to even have a chance of winning,” Thorkild adds. 

The choice of the title fell on Torchlight 2, a fantasy, cartoonish co-op game in which players fight against computer-controlled enemies to advance through the levels. It’s a simple game, yet deep, and the goal is to get through waves of enemies and defeat bosses.

And to make things even more competitive, the teachers asked their students to turn the difficulty level to maximum.

If the enemy simply glances at you, you instantly die. Unless you work together as a team. That might sound like a big challenge, but it created the need for cooperation. It forced students to communicate and play together” says Thorkild Hanghøj. 

It was not just boys who loved the game: girls were often more analytical and better at preparing. They experienced the same benefits from gaming as the boys. On the other hand, the boys were often rushing into the fights, and only by working together, they found a way to win. 

“Normally, quiet students can hide behind others in group tasks. But here, they all had to work together to even beat the first level, which is quite rare at school” adds Thorkild Hanghøj. 

The findings of the research

Torchlight 2 is not an educational-oriented game, but the didactic elements were layered on top in the research project. 

The experience showed an improvement in communication skills, better well-being and higher motivation to learn in the respective subject fields. On top of that, new friendships were born across the classes – and the assignments were both exotic and exciting. 

For example, one of the given tasks was to write or create a guide on how to beat specific and very difficult bosses in the students’ main language – in this case, Danish. The kids loved to write down the guides and illustrated them to other students. Even dyslexic pupils were excited about writing. They developed specific expertise, and now they can share what they have learned with others.

We didn’t evaluate whether the kids got better at math, English or their main languages – this was purely focused on their well-being and boosted their motivation, which we clearly saw. Fewer conflicts in the recess periods and friendships outside of school were registered and we also saw students enjoying the tasks given by their teachers.”

Torchlight 2 works on most computers with a dedicated graphic card, which is where Acer’s Predator lineup excels. Great, powerful laptops and desktops designed for any modern game, of which you can learn much more about here.

Future Classroom Lab is working side by side with Acer to create a better understanding of how technology can be used in the classroom. For example, FCL has helped develop a new subject with the tentative name “Technology Comprehension” to help teachers educate pupils and students in coding, understanding technology as well as digital culture and manners in Denmark. 

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