The common language of games

Taken from our Playful Learning: Computer Games in Education eBook by Ollie Bray (available to view and download below)

I’ve seen lots of badly dubbed films but I have never seen a badly dubbed computer game. Yet children play the same games in different languages all over the world.

In 2010 I took a group of young people from my school to Alaska and, amongst other things, we spent over two weeks canoeing above the Arctic Circle. We finished our canoe trip at the small Inuit village of Noatak.

The people who lived at Noatak were the first people we had seen in weeks and naturally our young people talked and socialised with their young people. What did they talk about… computer games! The games talk established a common interest and the feeling of security followed by all sorts of wonderful conversations about culture, lifestyle and the environment. Xbox LIVE® ID’s were exchanged and relationships around this internet of games continue to be developed online between young people who live thousands of miles apart on different continents.


Games bring people together and they always have. That is why the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup are so important. Used in the right way, computer games can achieve a similar objective and I believe that global online games to the current generation of young people will be as important as large sporting events are to mine. Most importantly, online gaming encourages conversation between young people across cultures and I strongly believe conversation in the long term can reduce conflict.

How can games be used in schools?

There are a number of ways that games can be used in schools including supporting existing educational outcomes, as a stimulus for thematic learning and also to get young people creating content rather than just consuming it through computer games design.

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