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 0
Features 0

5 coolest educational VR apps for Google Cardboard

By on
Virtual reality is an exciting new technology with huge potential for student education, but it’s not always clear how best to leverage VR in the classroom. One easy entry point is Google’s do-it-yourself virtual reality device, but which educational VR apps for Google Cardboard are worth your time and energy? How to use Google Cardboard in the classroom Using Google Cardboard is straightforward. All you need i
Features 1
Features 1

Quiet a noisy classroom with these 5 simple tricks

By on
Even experienced teachers can sometimes find it difficult to quiet a noisy classroom. But having a few tricks at the ready can help you take back control and achieve a silent classroom. 1) Stand near the noisy students This one’s a classic that most teachers learn early in their career. If the class is being too rowdy, standing near the loudest students can get them to settle down, especially if you stay silent while doing it. Keep in mind that how a tea
Features 0
Features 0

3 free classroom noise level monitors

By on
A room full of quiet students … now that’s the perfect classroom. While that might seem like more dream than reality, thankfully lots of classroom noise monitor apps are out there to help you manage. We’ve chosen three classroom noise monitor tools that teachers can use for free. Bouncy Balls How it works: The free browser app Bouncy Balls is a fun tool where students are challenged to balance a bun
Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter
An error as occured, please try again later
Latest game review, teaching tips and more!