Students and Video Game Players

, by Magali Moisy


Abstract : Some studies show that video games are used in teaching (Foreman 2004) and others report on players learning through their leisure activities online (Perriault 1987; Berry 2007), as formerly was the case through ordinary games. Even though the latter have been recognized by many researchers as leisure activities (Natkin 2003; Lafrance 2006), they were already used as learning tools (Brougère 1995, 2004).

However, since the beginning of time, play has been more or less directly opposed to work (Caillois 1967; Henriot 1989). The term “work” can be related to the notion of school work for children and adolescents, and to academic work for young adults. But, if for the former, parental and teacher supervision proves to be sufficient so that game playing does not encroach too much upon school work, what are the effects when institutional and parental frameworks are less evident?

Such is the situation in which most university students who play video games find themselves. In fact, recent studies mention the risk that these young adults who play on the Internet could potentially put less effort into their studies to spend more time playing on-line games (Valleur 2003; Griffiths 2004).

This paper presents part of the results of a study being done for a doctoral degree in Education, using a psychoanalytically-oriented clinical approach (Blanchard-Laville, Chaussecourte, Hatchuel et Pechberty, 2005). My research analyzes students’ psychological investment in video games and their game-study relationship. The objective is to show, through the in-depth analysis of three non-directive interviews done with student gamers, how video games are experienced as leisure tools, but also as learning tools at the same time. For the first two students, their intensive use of video games, which became their object of study for a time, was transformed into what we can call addictive. However, in the end this particular experience of video games permitted them to better come to know themselves. As regards the third student, video games are for her as for her mother informal tools for leisure and learning which do not conflict with her studies.

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