A highschool in Norway is using Telltale’s acclaimed “The Walking Dead” series to teach their students about ethics. Will these kids learn actual ethical insight, or will they only learn that Zombies = bad news?
The school was brought to attention by NRK, a media outlet in Norway that reported on the class. A video of the report can be seen here (Warning, it’s in Norweigin, but you can hit the translate button if you don’t speak the language).
According to the report, the game is being used to give student ethical dilemmas that they may not otherwise be given. Before you assume these ethical decisions are “Be a zombie murder or not?”, bear in mind that the series has been acclaimed for making players actually feel for their characters and feel the weight of their decisions. Unfortunately I personally have not had a chance to play the series, but I’ve heard they’re very well respected and well developed in character design and progression.
The report also claims that students have had positive results using the game to teach students ethics, as the game has spawned lively discussion of many of the ethical dilemmas that are presented in the game. Likewise, the students are reported to be much more engaged in this form of teaching than in traditional forms of teaching ethics.
Such a report begs the question: should video games be incorporated into more classrooms? Certainly there has been evidence to suggest that video games help engage students in school, but are they more successful in teaching than traditional means? That remains to be seen, and anecdotal evidence like this can only be applied to the situation. Certainly The Walking Dead wouldn’t be appropriate outside ethics and philosophy classes, but perhaps other games can help bridge the gap between education and video games. Similarly, one must ask: are using video games in the classroom any different than using television or movies?