Warning, TL;DR incoming.
I don't expect you to. :P Although I challenge you to cite some sources. Shouldn't be too hard considering you have had some schooling in the teaching fields.
I could cite sources, but you'd have to Google Translate them since they're in Danish. It's something called "Edutainment" here (spell checker didn't complain, so I guess you use that name as well), which is when you mix education and entertainment, which can be done with games. Video games are no different from other games and thus fall into the edutainment category. http://design.emu.dk/artikler/0040-edutainment.html http://www.emu.dk/brugit/co/laeringsspil/index.html
EMU.dk is an internet portal/gateway for teachers and students. It's maintained by the Danish Ministry of Education and UNI-C, which is a Danish IT-research and educational center. The two links lead to sites where you can read about and download video games for educational purposes.
Now, I could cite some theory as well, but all I have are four books in Danish, written by Danish theorists. The key point is that kids, or people in general, learn through stimuli and those stimuli can come from anything, be it a musical instrument, a book, another person or a game. Anything that influences a person also teaches that person something.
Like I said, video games aren't the ultimate tools for learning, but they're used heavily in the school system. And they're used more than musical instruments because they appeal to a wider audience. It also helps make students more familiar with the electronic media, which is something they'll use way more than a musical instrument, unless they become professional musicians, of course.
I find it hard to believe that me beating Sly 2 is going to teach me the same thing as getting an award for having your orchestra group wining first place at state.
Overcoming an obstacle is the same, regardless of how you do it. Winning an award is a victory, just like beating Sly 2 (no idea who that is) is. The educational value of overcoming an obstacle is minimal, unless it's your first time (in which case there's some stuff about reaching goals and such), but the physical and psychological value is pretty significant.
Winning, in general, is awesome. This is because beating an obstacle gives us a sense of self-worth, which is the psychological value. We want to be good at what we do, even if we don't know it. Physically, winning gives us a rush because chemicals are released into our blood stream before, during and/or after "the fight" and we get the so-called "runner's high" that I mentioned earlier. It's a mix of adrenaline, endorphin and other painkillers. Our brains are sloshing around in a chemical soup that would make most junkies drool. This effect is highly addictive, which is why some people who start exercising tend to go overboard for no apparent reason. It's also why we enjoy sex, chocolate and winning epic loot.
You can get these physical and psychological rewards from pretty much anything that requires you to make an effort. We use a lot in teaching where we reward/penalize students for their actions. It's also why using games (not necessarily video games) is such a great educational tool. The kids get a high and associate that high with learning, which, over the course of their time in school, might modify them into thinking that studying is awesome.
Yeah, it's a dirty trick, but with so many kids being dianosed with ADHD and ADD these days due to overstimulation (OMG, gotta check Facebook before I go to bed. OMG, Facebook app allows me to check Facebook while I'm in bed. OMG, Facebook push messaging allows me to wake up and check Facebook when someone writes something), we'll take whatever we can get.
We didn't push my son into playing the piano. Friends gave us a piano and he wanted to play it.
I may have given the impression earlier that I was accusing you of something, which was never my intention. I think it's awesome that you obviously care about your son and his upbringing. If I had a dime for every time I've seen parents ignore their children completely, I'd... well, I'd probably have two dollars or something, but it happens a lot! I only responded because I disagree with some of the posters who claim that musical instruments and exercising gives a person more than they could ever get from a (video) game.
Music and exercising can give your kid some things that video games can't, and vice versa, but neither is better than the other. My English, for instance, is only this good because I play a lot of video games and watch a lot of television and movies. Video games indirectly also taught me how to use computers and digital media in general, which are skills I've found to be far more useful in my adult life, not to mention my career, than being able to read notes and run really fast/far (I can still run, but I'd need a beer and a cigarette at the finish line).
It's an interesting discussion, though. It's kind of fun to see how one's own upbringing influences one's choices in later life, especially when it comes to the next generation's upbringing.
Edit: Sorry about the wall of text. I decided that one post instead of two was okay. Edited, Sep 23rd 2012 12:22pm by Mazra