Games motivate students to read beyond their grade level

Kids spend a lot of time playing video games, and it’s paying off for their education.

Hannah Gerber, a literacy researcher at Sam Houston State University, observed 10th grade students and found while they only read about 10 minutes a day in English class—they spent 70 minutes reading at home. They’re not devouring novels but instead websites and guides devoted to their favorite video games, like Minecraft or World of Warcraft.

Many of these sites are written at grades 8-11 or higher on the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease scale, with 2-6 percent “academic” jargon.

“It’s situated knowledge,” Constance Steinkuehler, a games researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Wired. “They see a piece of language, a turn of phrase, and they figure it out.”

Steinkuehler asked middle and high school students who struggled with reading to examine texts (some containing language on a college level) from sites about their favorite games. They read them with no help and high accuracy.

Alfonso Gonzalez, a middle school teacher from Washington, told Classcraft this year in an interview, “The Lexile level of some of the wikis that people have created are actually really high. So kids have to have pretty decent reading skills to advance in [World of Warcraft]. Because when they get stuck, I tell them look it up.”

This motivation is carrying over to writing as well, with kids contributing to game sites and discussions online.

“They have an audience that knows their stuff, and they expect you to be knowledgeable,” Steinkuehler said.

Photo credit: Uber Images /
Stephanie Carmichael Stephanie is the editor-in-chief of the Classcraft Blog and the Head of Content for Classcraft ( She's a proud advocate of games for social good and loves talking with teachers about their amazing experiences in the classroom. Email her at [email protected]
+ Leave a comment + 0 Reply

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.
game-based learning, literacy, Minecraft, reading, video games, World of Warcraft, writing
Make Learning an Adventure, Gamify your classroom today! Start Now, It's Free!
Features 1
Features 1

Teaching with technology: How, when, and how much?

By on
Technology is to the classroom as a costume is to a superhero. Superhero in this context will be defined as someone with abnormal quirks that allow them advantages over the typical human. Many superheroes use their powers without any sort of accessory, but their suit often serves as a modifier, enhancing or structuring abilities so that they can take down villains with ease. It is important to remember that the suit is unique to the superhero. Like a suit, technology should be unique t
Features 0
Features 0

How to measure social emotional learning

By on
Social emotional learning (SEL) is a key factor in ensuring students are prepared for future success. It’s one of the top determinants of their performance in the workplace, where they’re expected to be team players who can communicate effectively, manage their emotions, and adapt to changes easily. But if there’s no set curriculum to teach social emotional learning, how do we know our kids are acquiring the skills they need? Where do
Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter
An error as occured, please try again later
Latest game review, teaching tips and more!