Application of MMORPG in Education


It is no secret that Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) is one of the most rapidly advancing segments of the gaming industry. As a matter of fact, World of Warcraft, one of the most popular MMOs, started out with about 1.5 million subscribers around 2005, while during the same year worldwide MMO revenues were just about half a billion dollars. Since then quite a few MMO games have been launched. In 2013, the number of worldwide MMO subscribers jumped to 628 million who accounted for 14.9 billion dollars in global annual revenue of the MMO industry.

Through their increasing popularity and their social nature, online games have become a major mechanism of socialization among a wide sector of the population. Certain games have become spaces where users of all ages can engage in various forms of social interaction (Suh et al., 2010). And these interactions mostly take place in the form of language and language skills, which implies that such mechanisms can also be used for educational purposes.

MMORPGs provide an ideal environment for users to improve their language skills for several reasons. One of the most important is that they provide motivation to the learners (users). First, by triggering the user’s participation in learning tasks and enhancing his/her engagement level to these tasks. Second, by giving the user the opportunity to interact using an avatar, which permits him/her to create a second life and be whoever he/she pleases (Suh et al., 2010). Apart from that, the games improve the learners’ critical thinking and problem solving skills. Last but not least, MMORPGs highlight the importance of guilds and groups and they trigger the creation of online communities, through which learners can engage into further interactions and information sharing, creating a new learning environment that was previously available only face-to-face.

These implications can greatly enhance the learning experience for English learners, especially in countries where the language is very separate from their real lives. In fact, study results show that students who study English utilizing online games scored higher in the areas of listening, reading and writing than students who attended face-to-face class sessions (Suh et al., 2010). These results allow for further research and perhaps the creation of a new educational model.

Since the theoretical background behind interactive learning environments involves students interacting with information, socializing and collaborating among them (Susaeta et al., 2010), we can assume that MMORPGs provide an ideal tool that allows students to perform these actions collectively. Thus, perhaps these online games could be adapted for use in the classroom to provide a unique interface through which students can learn various concepts and share further information (Susaeta et al., 2010). It would certainly be interesting to examine such educational models, ones that can combine the elements of entertainment with learning. They certainly provide further motivation to the learners and can enhance the whole “classroom experience”.

To sum up, gaming is definitely one of the most popular forms of entertainment these days. The increasing number of subscriptions of online games leads to the creation of a large number of online communities that provide an ideal environment for interaction due to their various characteristics. Therefore, more and more research is turning towards using such games for educational purposes and it should probably continue to do so.

References:

Suh, S., Kim, S.W. and Kim, N.J. (2010), “Effectiveness of MMORPG-based Instruction in Elementary English Education in Korea”, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00353.x/pdf

Susaeta, H., Jimenez, F., Nussbaum, M., Gajardo, I., Andreu, J.J. and Villalta, M. (2010), “From MMORPG to a Classroom Multiplayer Presential Role Playing Game”, http://www.ifets.info/journals/13_3/23.pdf

http://www.statista.com/statistics/276601/number-of-world-of-warcraft-subscribers-by-quarter/

http://www.iesherpa.com/?p=1177

http://www.newzoo.com/infographics/the-global-mmo-market-sizing-and-seizing-opportunities/

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