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Learn as You Play: Brunel Study Shows Positive Role of Computer Games

Brunel academics today unveil the results of a three-year study into online gaming communities, which defies the traditional educationalists' negative perception of gaming. The academics believe that computer games have a central role to play in the education and development of young people, contributing to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's strategy of work related learning , which helps children make an effective transition from school to work.

The study, which took the form of qualitative research into a community of players of the online game Runescape shows that gaming is far from being a frivolous diversion from homework. The research shows how the online worlds created by the gamers mirror many aspects of material society helping teenage gamers to make the transition from school to work. For example, gamers are invited to join 'Klans' - highly disciplined co-operatives in which they share a common set of goals, they adopt identities such as merchant or warrior and they divide their time online between work and leisure. Most importantly, skills are learnt which are highly valued, with experienced players tailoring their 'training' to acquire the 'desirable' skills - a clear example of 'work related learning'.

Comments Nic Crowe from the Centre for Youth Work Studies in the School of Sport and Education at West London's Brunel University, who carried out the research in conjunction with Dr Simon Bradford: