Taking Elder’s mobile gaming problem to the next “Level”


At any given time the average Elder student has a smart phone, his tablet, or even a portable game console, and you can bet that he has played a game at one point or another with one of these gadgets over the course of the day. Whether you like to admit it or not, the students at Elder High School do not spend 100% the time they have in the classroom taking notes or doing schoolwork. I bet that at one time or another, you have seen a fellow student, if not you yourself, play a game during class.

It’s a fact of life here at Elder that it is only going to become more and more commonplace in the classroom, despite the warnings and punishments that the facility and staff give out to those who break this rule. So how did this problem even come about and why has it such a problem?

As video games have evolved over the course of their 40 plus year history, from being simple blips on a screen hitting a glowing ball to being multi-million dollar productions that push what technology is capable of. The most recent (and arguably the most important development yet) is the popularity and ease of access of the mobile game market.

The first mobile games were small LCD games called Game & Watch (the games that Mr. Game & Watch from the Smash Bros. series hails from), which were simple devices with pre-installed games that were roughly the same shape and size of a Nintendo DS. However you could only play the pre-installed game that came with it.

The next step in portable gaming evolution was the Nintendo Gameboy, which was an eight-bit handheld console that would go on to sell over 100 million units worldwide and become the third best-selling game console in history. The console introduced the now commonplace addition of changeable games.

The Gameboy had many upgrades and inspire the creation of the Nintendo DS and 3DS, Sony PSP and Vita, but the next and most important step in the distribution of games into the classroom was the creation of the easily available internet and the smartphone. These are the devices that you will see wasting the expensive class time of hypnotized panthers. Websites like Newstudyhall, Steam, and Kongregate are easily accessible during the class time using the internet, and in the case of Steam, you may not even need an internet connection to play pre-downloaded games.

These websites are good and safe ways to kill a little free time, but often they are used irresponsibly in the classroom by students who don’t feel the need to take notes or participate in class.

One student, who plays video games like Minecraft in class often, was kind enough to share his thoughts on the matter, wishing to remain anonymous. “It’s really not because of games.” He states frankly in response to my question about games and lack of attention, “If they are not going to pay attention then they aren’t going to, without games they would more likely stare at a wall than pay attention.”

The anonymous student went on to say that he wouldn’t be surprised if one in three Elder students played online or mobile games, checking their social networks, or otherwise preoccupied with other non-educational websites. Though he does admit that this number varies on the class and teacher.

Are time here at Elder is valuable, literally! And it is not an experience that is without sacrifice by ourselves and our parents, so, with that in mind, to some wasting time on games seems like throwing cash down the drain. So why are so many playing them throughout lectures, tweeting during notes, and texting under the table? Because they are not invested in the class.

It is not the fault of the teacher or even the school that they are losing more and more students to the internet and games, classes just cannot compete with other distractions. It’s always been that way with students wasting time day-dreaming and doodling instead of gaming and tweeting. But with that said and out of the way, it does not excuse the actions of the students, we here at Elder have worked hard to be here and it is our choice how we spend our class time. Simply put, video games at Elder are not going to be gone anytime soon, and it doesn’t matter what website are blocked, because as the anonymous interviewee stated before, “If they are not going to pay attention then they aren’t going to”