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Research Spotlight: Video Games and Literacy Engagement

The video games industry is booming – with more than 214 million players in the U.S. alone, and billions more around the globe

Arthur traversing the globe

(Image source: Giphy)

As COVID-19 lockdowns continue to further accelerate the growth of our industry, the UK’s National Literacy Trust has teamed up with the Association of UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) and Penguin Random House Children’s to conduct a study exploring the relationship between video games and literacy engagement among young learners.

The culmination of two separate surveys – the first administered to 4,626 young people ages 11-16 across the UK in late 2019, the second conducted with 3,817 young people ages 11-18 and 826 parents in summer 2020 – the research initiative shines a spotlight on young people’s literacy-related interactions both within, and in relation to, digital games. Here are a few highlights from their full research report:

Games inspire confidence in reading and writing

It’s no secret that video games can be a excellent way to engage individuals in subjects like history, math, and more – and it appears reading and writing are no exception! 

According to survey results, 79.4% of young people who play video games also read related materials at least once a month, including in-game communications (39.9%), game reviews and blogs (30.5%), books (21.8%), and fan fiction (19.4%). The study also found that video games can promote positive writing habits as well, with 62.5% of respondents indicating that they write something related to video games at least once per month, including video game scripts, advice to help other players, fan fiction, and blog/review articles.

Games support communication with friends and family

Survey results also found that the shared cultural experience of playing video games helped support positive communication with friends and family – lending further credence to the idea that video games are a powerful tool for socializing while social distancing

Approximately 76.3% of young people surveyed reported that they frequently talk to their friends about video games, compared to only 29.4% who reported discussing books in a similar fashion. Survey respondents also noted that video game play helps them build social connections both in real life and online – a transferable skill that will surely benefit young people in other contexts beyond video games.

Games improve mental wellbeing

We’ve previously highlighted the growing intersection of video games and mental health here on our blog – and the results of this research lend further evidence to the argument that video games can be a meaningful medium for self-care.

According to survey results, many respondents found that gaming helped them either deal with, or escape from, stress and difficult emotions. Approximately 55.6% of surveyed parents reported that their child had spent time chatting with family and friends as part of playing video games during COVID-19 lockdowns, and 59.6% of parents felt that this had been helpful for their child’s mental wellbeing during this time. 

The relationship between video games and literacy is well-studied, and these new findings further support the power of games to engage, inspire, and support young learners – even amidst lockdowns and social distancing. For even more insights, be sure to check out the National Literacy Trust’s full research report!

At Filament Games, we’re passionate about harnessing the power of digital games to improve people’s lives – for over 15 years, we’ve helped organizations around the globe use games to spark imagination and foster deep learning through exploration and discovery. If you or your organization is interested in creating your own custom game for learning or impact, be sure to reach out to our team for a free consultation!

More educational gaming resources from the Filament Games blog:
How Educational Video Games Can Help Foster Social and Emotional Learning
The Value of Working with an Educational Game Developer
Video Games and Mental Health

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