George Lucas Educational Foundation

What Can Future Teachers Learn From A Video Game?

What Can Future Teachers Learn From A Video Game?

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The aim of this post is to simply tie in the challenges a new teacher (but not discounting experienced ones) may feel in their first year of teaching. Accordingly, the idea was simply to tie the games (in this instance, the game StarCraft) mechanics into a quirky analysis of the plethora of emotions a teacher may go through. If you're interested, take a look!

So you decided to go to Teachers College.


How about this. Here is a scenario for you….

I’m the Dean of the Faculty of Education. You, the student have requested to enter the program. Before I consider your application, I’ll require you to play a video game.

Ok… Wait a minute. You want me to play a video game to enter the program?

Easy! Right?

Not so fast. We’re only started.

Play Time

Games have a powerful way of making you think differently. They’re dynamic, focused, quirky, intelligent, stressful, hectic, scary, exciting, frustrating, rewarding and the list goes on. In fact, those very words describe the plethora of emotions you will go through as a first year teacher.


In South Korea, video games are serious business.

The country has major capital invested in the game! More importantly, major telecommunications company SK Telecom not only overseas one of StarCraft’s most elite level of professional gaming teams, but also broadcast’s game-play on national TV.

Wait, so you can watch people play games on TV in South Korea?


This is comparable to Westerners watching hockey or baseball.

Throughout the last 10 years, the rise of esports (electronic sports) has gained much movement within the Western and Foreign gaming scene. To put esports into context; StarCraft is seen by many as a competitive sport, not a game. In professional competitive settings, two opponents are matched against each other – the victor moves on (normally in a bracket setting like any other sport). Professional athletes, some as young as 14, are making well over 100,000$ a year. Major endorsements with large computer companies, fund professional gaming houses where athletes live and breath the game. They are put through rigorous training routines and are expected to win BIG.

Other major investments such as KeSPA (Korean e-sports Association), was founded by the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Tourism, governs the impact of esports within South Korea. KeSPA also acts as a body to ensure proper working conditions for progamers (professional gamers) in South Korea and manage all broadcasting power in sync with KS Telecom to bring coverage to South Korean TVs.

The impact and influence StarCraft has on South Korea has even made them adopt the game as their national sport (unofficially).

But What Can Teachers Learn?

1) Micro (teachers classroom management): StarCraft is a beautiful game. The game is fueled by competitive play yet gives not-so competitive players the opportunity to excel and better themselves. Accordingly the game offers depths no other game of its time can offer.

StarCraft offers a plethora of skills waiting to be learn’t. In fact, the core of its game relies solely on the player being able to micro effectively.

Huh? As a classroom teacher, you’re often wearing more than one hat. You’re helping Patrick figure out his math problem, while marking Rachel’s poem, while tinkering on Ericks LEGO build, while diffusing a rift between two students, while making sure students are on task, while keeping them engaged, while…

You get the picture. Micro is classroom management. In StarCraft, a player must manage their army and their economy, all while defending from multiple pronged attacks, constantly scouting, building units, mining resources…It's a lot to do in a game that happens so quickly.

Don’t Panic

As a first year teacher, you’re going to have to find a rhythm. The pace of the classroom changes on a minute to minute basis, just like in the game. You must be able to adapt to changes quickly and think on your feet without a moments hesitation. The game offers a certain level of stress and anxiety that surprisingly allows you to perform well as a player, however, you should expect to be able to juggle everything, as you would in the classroom, with professionalism and dexterity.

2) Teching “tech” (teachers professional development): Professional development is essential to a teacher's career. They offer various opportunities to better yourself professionally but also academically. A teacher may either take professional courses, obtain a graduate degree (Masters or PhD) or attend various conferences, events and conventions. These allow a teacher to network, acquire skills that will aid them in the classroom and allow for a teacher, just like in StarCraft, to have the upgraded tools (information), skills (strategies) and resources.

3) Units (Addressing Your Students & Multiple Learners): In most Real Time Strategy games, the player is in control of units. StarCraft is riddle with a variety of units. They differ in movements (air/ground), movement speed, attack speed, armor types, health and other abilities (such as cloak & burrow).

In the classroom, you’re going to have students of differing abilities, and this is what makes teaching so dynamic and enjoyable. Your students are your units. You must match them against their best suited ability and work to manage this accordingly. What works for one student may not work as efficiently for another - so, you must tailor your lessons and approach to meet the needs of your students. Each student is special and offers various strengths - you should embrace this and use their strengths to your advantage.

GG (Good Game)

Having played StarCraft since it’s release 1998 and StarCraft 2 in 2010 I’ve began to see the complexity and beauty of the game and how it correlates to teaching. I can’t imagine a better way to spend my day then to inspire and discover, with students who consistently inspire me.

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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