Video Games and Career Pathways

By Brett Pawlowski

Years ago, I read a book by Dr. Jim Gee called “What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy.” The introductory premise was fascinating: Why is it that we keep trying to make learning easier and easier, and so many students continue to struggle or remain disengaged; when in contrast, the harder we make video games, the more engaged kids become?

In his book, he outlines the principles of successful video games, such as the frequent rewards, the proof of mastery, and the building block process (master a few basic moves, those can combine into more powerful moves, and the like), all of which work to provide repeated successes and a sense of accomplishment in players as they become proficient and prepared for increased challenges. And it occurs to me now that so many of the principles he names can be found in good CTE and pathways.

While it’s no substitute for the book (which I would highly recommend), you can find a list of his learning principles here. And ask yourself: What principles from the world of highly engaging video games can you apply to draw students into your program or pathway, and instill in them a deep desire to master your content?