Video games as a source of motivation in special education

Students aged 12 to 14 in special education had the chance to participate last year in an introductory video game design project.

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The class of Ms. Nancy Lizotte, special education teacher for 12 to 14 year olds in a continuing education class at Polyvalente Robert-Ouimet in Acton Vale, had the chance to participate in an innovative initiation project to video game design.

Thanks to the collaboration of an external resource, Mr. Gilles Gauthier, IT director, Ms. Lizotte's class had a motivating learning experience. His students participated in 13 classroom meetings that took place in the spring of 2017.

Objectives of the workshops

The main objective of these meetings was to introduce young people to the world of video games and all its facets, but also to allow them to develop new computer skills, to give them the desire to learn, to awaken their passion, to prevent dropping out of school while promoting their self-esteem.

More specifically, the workshops allowed students to learn while creating a basic video game. The students were able to learn about the main stages of creating a video game (technical sheet, research and multimedia creation).

Content of workshops

The 13 workshops offered focused on different aspects of the video game world:

  • Statistics on video games in order to debunk certain false beliefs (eg: the age of video game enthusiasts).
  • History of video games.
  • Discovery of the types of jobs in this field (programmer, designer, computer graphics designer, screenwriter, tester, etc.).
  • Familiarization with different IT platforms.
  • Learning terminology related to the field.
  • Creation of a video game: game sheet, script writing, character creation, image search, music, pixelation, visual design, visual programming with icons, etc.
  • Multiple related learning: writing and structuring a story, working in a team, becoming familiar with the English-speaking computer lexicon, making choices, exercising their critical sense, debating and asserting their point of view.


Positive impacts

Ms. Lizotte was able to observe the many positive effects on her students. They were impatiently anticipating the next workshops, their motivation was great to do the tasks, and this, in the fun. They were able to persevere, despite the challenges they encountered. They were able to debate subjects, put forward their ideas, work in a team and develop their critical sense. The pride in completing this project was also palpable and the students want to continue the experience.

The positive effects of this initiative also reverberated throughout the school as students in other classes were very interested in the project. A gala was held to leave room for young people to present their creations. They then showed their game sheet and were able to demonstrate their learning. Each student received a certificate for their participation.

All in all, learning while having fun by actually creating a game, at a time when young people are in search of their identity and their passion, is a good way to engage students in school. For the 2017-2018 school year, two other classes have expressed interest in doing the project. This is a project that could very well be repeated in this school or elsewhere.

M. Gauthier and students in action.
Photo credit: Nancy Lizotte

Two students designing the technical sheet for the video game.
Photo credit: Nancy Lizotte

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About the Author

Josée Tardif
Josée Tardif
Josée is a reviser, translator and blogger. She holds a bachelor's degree in French studies, a master's degree in information science and a certificate in translation. She is interested in the world of books, education, family and social issues. She also contributes to the blog of the web magazine Planet F and has his own blog Life Etc.

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