With our society changing and technology evolving, digital games played by children and young people, too, are evolving into modern and complex systems that reflect societal development and practices. These activities are very similar to those needed in today’s society and world of work, the learning of which constitutes part of the national core curriculum for basic education as areas of broad competence. A new study concludes that digital games, and especially the related metagaming, often require skills similar to those needed to be successful in modern society.
In addition to actual gaming, digital games also involve plenty of other activities. Nowadays, games are seen as more than just a piece of programming: they are complete game systems that include not only the actual game but also the metagame. Metagaming refers to social interaction within or outside the game, such as watching YouTube videos related to the game, engaging in conversations on forums related to the game, or reading strategy guides for the game.
The new study explored children’s metagaming activities, focusing on them from the perspectives of broad-based competence. The results show that metagaming is a very broad entity: there is great variation in people’s ways of metagaming, requiring different levels of commitment and participation.
“Overall, the results show that metagaming often puts children and young people in situations where they are expected and offered opportunities to use the broad competence referred to in the national core curriculum,” Project Researcher Juho Kahila explains.
Examples of these skills include coming up with gaming strategies and assessing gaming performance either alone or together with other players. Children and young people look for games-related information from different sources, and they also create and share gaming-related content.
“This is how children build their competence related to the game. They are also open to collaborating with other players and they establish online networks without being hindered by less-than-perfect language skills,” Professor Teemu Valtonen points out.
Technology is creatively used for communicating and creating gaming-related content. In addition, children and young people take responsibility for their in-game purchases, and they often take care of the equipment needed for gaming, and for games themselves.
“As the national core curriculum nowadays emphasises pupil orientation and the use of pupils' own experiences and leisure technologies in education, it would be appropriate to examine metagaming more extensively as part of formal school education,” Valtonen says.