Gaming and Critical Thinking

Playing games is one of the best ways to develop critical thinking skills.

Last week I wrote about attending our first gaming convention. If you've never heard of or been to a gaming convention, I highly recommend it.

At the convention, I was busy playing my skip-counting card game Speed! in the vendor room while my husband and son tried out a variety of new games. Because a gaming convention is filled with people who like to play games, through demonstrating my game, I had the opportunity to see how playing games has enhanced the logic and critical thinking skills of the participants.

Most people have a hobby. For some, their hobby is a musical instrument, for others it's sewing, woodworking, politics, reading, running or camping. There are an unlimited number of hobbies, but I had never thought of playing games as a hobby until I attended a gaming convention.

Hobbies are interesting, because they are a pleasurable pastime for the participant. People tend to fill their free time exploring their hobby as much as possible, and over time become unofficial experts in their field as they continue to increase their knowledge.

Speed! is a relatively easy game to learn, but I was stunned by how much quicker veteran gamers learned to play. Most picked up on all the rules after only about 2 minutes of instruction and were onto strategizing how to win. At one time during the convention a five year old boy and his seven year old sister walked up to my table. They only played one round of Speed!, but before the round was done they were racing at top speed while predicting two to three moves ahead. I could see the five year old boy thinking 'if I play my 9, then my sister will play her 12, but if I play my 3 instead, then she won't have a card to play. Picking up on strategy during the first round of play was unbelievable, but it happened over and over throughout the weekend.

The question was why did the gamers pick it up so fast? Well the obvious answer was that they play games often. By continuously strategizing in different circumstances they have learned to recognize patterns at a rapid rate. In addition, they don't just follow the rules, but predict possible outcomes of various acceptable moves and select their best option. Based on the information available, they try to think several moves ahead when planning their moves.

My husband and son witnessed this same skill while playing games with other gamers. At the conference many game tables were set-up with a person available to teach others the game. Attendees could show up at scheduled times to try out new games. My husband and son tried games with others three times at the convention and lost every time. They said that the other gamers were strategizing at the very beginning of the game while it took them half way through the game to understand the rules. The game hobbiests were just that much quicker.

The skills being developed by playing games; critical thinking, logic, and decision making not to mention math, are applicable in many aspects of life from most careers, jobs and daily routines. There are many games on the market, so start thinking about games like books. Try one and see how it goes. If you like it teach friends and play again. Then try a new game. There are so many to choose from. Have fun!

Please visit Highhill Education again next week as I will begin writing about some of the games my husband and son played.

For more great educational activities check out these blog hops

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